Tennis Australia is the national governing body for the sport in Australia and conducts international and domestic tournaments, including the Australian Open. They also support the regional tennis bodies within Australia and officials, coaches, and players at all levels of the sport. Tennis Australia’s goal is to get more people participating in tennis as players, coaches, officials, and spectators. The Education and Professional Learning team looks after the digital platforms used for education and provides specialist support to the Coach Development and Officiating teams who are responsible for the education and training of coaches and officials respectively.
Tennis Australia had been searching for a new video solution that would plug into their LMS. With thousands of video clips of content, ranging from how to deliver a tennis coaching session for junior players to slow motion vision of elite tennis players’ strokes, they needed a way to organize and provide access to existing content. In the beginning, they were just looking for basic functionality, not realizing what the platform could do… or what the pandemic would cause them to need. Tennis Australia went from looking for a way to share video clips and broadcast live training events to needing to find a way to continue their mission to deliver accredited education and professional development to coaches and officials.
They chose Kaltura because there were many universities using the solution, and they knew it would work with their Moodle-based platform. Tennis Australia began by using Kaltura MediaSpace to organize their video content, but quickly moved into using Kaltura Townhalls for webcasting live events. For example, webcasting would allow them to have a guest speaker present to coaches both in the room and live online. Then Coronavirus put an end to in-person events entirely.
“We had to hit the ground running, because Australia went into a really tight lockdown,” says Andrea Buckeridge, Education and Professional Learning Manager at Tennis Australia. “We were rolling out coaching courses, which traditionally have always been face to face, and we had to pivot very quickly. Video is an essential component of coach education so the beauty of Kaltura is that you can play the videos natively which ensures a quality experience for viewers.”
And Tennis Australia didn’t stop there. Kaltura Virtual Classroom ultimately became a key part of their strategy to help tennis coaching professionals continue to develop their careers even in lockdown.
In the coach space alone, Tennis Australia has run 260 sessions using Kaltura Virtual Classroom since lockdown began. They’ve also offered over a dozen sessions for officials, and plan many more to come. Buckeridge says of the platform, “Once we got up to speed, it’s really easy to use and navigate.”
Using quizzes has also been a positive, Buckeridge says, noting that Tennis Australia has used quizzes at the beginning of events. “It really ups the engagement of the group and gets them switched on.”
Attendance at the virtual events has also been strong. For the first webinar for officials, 54 people joined to discuss the rules of tennis and duties of officials. “It was phenomenal turn out for our first effort!”
Tennis Australia has also been delivering sessions on biosecurity for officials to prepare them for the return to tennis events and the added responsibilities in a COVID-Safe environment. “It’s been a great way to get the information out to a large number of people across the country at the same time. You don’t have to fly speakers in to present. It’s easy for them to present from their homes.”
That sessions can be recorded and remain in the LMS and provide value on an ongoing basis has been just one benefit. “Our participants can go back and look at the content to refresh their knowledge and consolidate their learning,” Buckeridge says, adding that the notes function is also a fantastic way to send people recaps of events they have attended.
And these aren’t the only ways the tennis community has been staying connected during the pandemic. “The chat function is amazing in terms of engaging the group,” Buckeridge adds. She also notes the importance of breakout rooms for the type of learning Tennis Australia emphasizes.
“The challenge has been trying to provide opportunities for active learning where participants can share ideas and connect with others in the group, rather than sessions just being a download of information. Kaltura makes it easy to drag and drop people into rooms where they can discuss concepts and share experiences and knowledge,” she says.
Ultimately, Kaltura has changed the way Tennis Australia delivers courses. Normally, Buckeridge says, the majority of courses are run locally within the state, but now people from all over Australia can do electives related to the business of tennis coaching together. They’ve found that offering 1.5-hour virtual classroom sessions is really the sweet spot in terms of maximizing learning and maintaining attention. They’ve also found that breakout rooms for three people yield the most promising discussions. “It’s great to get all those different perspectives.”
“The bottom line is we couldn’t have run any of our training at all without these tools,” Buckeridge says. “That’s the game changer for us. We just would have been put on hold.”
Tennis Australia has also run some sessions focused specifically on social support for specific groups served by the organization, such as female coaches. The results of activities like these and Tennis Australia’s effort to drive people towards Bounce, its LMS, is that they’ve seen coaches engaging on the platform who have never engaged before. These coaches are then staying on to attend the webinars. The interest from officials has also been positive. “The turnout is huge and if I have my way I would do one a week,” says Martin Oosthuysen, Officiating Education Coordinator.
Tennis Australia is looking beyond the pandemic for ways Kaltura can help them reach their communities. “We’ll definitely continue with the webinars and with the elective business of coaching units being online,” Buckeridge says. “You can get access to the best presenters around the country” that way.
She also notes that they are looking to make their traditional three-day introductory coaching course, which is usually delivered face-to-face, into a course with two days in person and one day online, because that makes it easier for more people to attend and it can be delivered over a weekend.
“I think this is something officials will also keep using because it’s so easy for them to deliver training Australia-wide, reducing costs and being able to reach large numbers at one time,” adds Nicole Field, Digital Learning Lead at Tennis Australia.
For all the success Tennis Australia is already having with Kaltura virtual classrooms, Buckeridge is looking at how to improve their impact even further. “I think we’re going to continue to improve the way we create and deliver engaging content online. We are looking forward to continuing to innovate to maximise learning.”