When it comes to PE and IT, one of the comments Phys Ed teachers often hear is - it must be hard transferring this technology into Physical Education. The reality is, it comes down to the PhysEd culture within your school. Before implementing any technology, you must have a strong culture that the tech can support. When creating this culture, it is important to make a distinction between physical activity and physical education. Each has an important place in the school but often they are compressed together and restricted within the PE subject. When this occurs the strength of a whole school approach is lost.
Physical activity programs have an important place during break times. Physical activity not only prepares the brain for learning, it also helps students learn problem solving skills and interpersonal skills. So by using tech to promote and support a whole school physical activity program we are providing students with valuable learning moments outside of the classroom and in turn increasing their chance for success inside of the classroom. Movement helps kids achieve more by keeping them engaged and motivated throughout the day.
#1 – The Daily Mile
The Daily Mile is a social platform that allows users to create and complete physical activity challenges. Although this app is an amazing way to keep track of your physical activity levels, the feature that makes this app stand out from the rest is it provides users with the ability to encourage and inspire one another as they work to achieve their goals. An example of how this app may be used within a physical activity program is to enhance school lunchtime walking clubs.
#2 - Zombies Run
Zombies Run is an ultra-immersive running game and audio adventure. Every run becomes a mission where the student becomes the hero. With immersive audio drama putting the student in the middle of their very own zombie adventure, this app is a bridge between physical activity and video gaming. Recent developments of this app have improved the gaming experience. While students run to the perfect mix of heart-pumping audio drama and pulse-pounding songs from their own playlist, they collect supplies to grow their base back home. This app could be used as a quick recess activity that gets students moving.
#3 – GoNoodle
Although this is not an iOS app, GoNoodle must get a mention. GoNoodle helps teachers get kids moving with short interactive activities that range from dancing to athletics challenges. GoNoodle is designed with K-5 classrooms in mind however there are a range of activities that may be used by year 7-8 students. GoNoodle can be used to support student leaders who run before or after school physical activity programs.
#4 - ReachOut Breathe
ReachOut Breathe helps students reduce the physical symptoms of stress and anxiety by slowing down their breathing and their heart rate with an iOS device. Research shows that slowing your heart rate can increase feelings of calmness in your body. Using simple visuals, ReachOut Breathe helps students to control their breath and measures their heart rate in real-time using the camera in their phone. With the increasing amount of stress in young people’s lives, this is an essential app to include in any physical activity program.
When making the distinction between physical education and physical activity, it is important to recognise PE as a unique and essential learning area focused on educative purposes. The aim of PE is to provide ongoing, developmentally appropriate and explicit learning about health and movement. Teachers are required to teach movement skills, tactics and strategy, and have students develop numerous social skills that often require periods of time where students need to be sedentary for thinking and learning to occur. Essential apps that support this include:
#1 - Google Drive (Organisation and collaboration of learning content)
Google Drive is a file storage and synchronization service created by Google. It allows users to store files in the cloud, share files, and edit documents, spreadsheets, and presentations with collaborators. Collaboration moves student learning from cognition to metacognition. When you are asked to make learning visible, the apps within Google Drive are one way to do this.
#2 - Bam Video Delay (Skill analysis tool)
With this app, you can simultaneously record and display delayed video. This means that a PE Teacher can have the app pointed towards any sort of discrete skill and after the skill has been completed the performer has adequate time to return to the screen to see their skill in action. This increases the quality of feedback that is provided and improves the clarity of the feedback loop being used. This is one of the most difficult challenges for PE teachers.
#3 - PingPong (Low risk formative assessment)
PingPong is a tool that enables teachers to pose a question and quickly check for understanding during class, discussion, etc. It can also be useful for sharing materials easily and selecting winners in draws without a complicated registration process.
#4 - Adobe Slate (Presentations)
Adobe Slate enables any user to present visually rich stories on the internet with little or no knowledge of programming or creative design. It is simple to use, yet the end results can have scrolling pictures and text effects and look professional no matter the subject. The best thing about adobe slate is it allows students to focus on unpacking and presenting their understanding of the topic being studied rather than wasting learning time playing with transitions and effects for their presentation.
In addition to the aforementioned apps, I am extremely excited by the new opportunities virtual reality platforms such as Google Cardboard and Google expeditions will provide for Physical Education. This again will certainly raise the comment; “it must be hard transferring this technology into physical education”, however it helps to see that physical education is a learning area with the same challenges and opportunities as other subjects. If you develop a deep understanding of your subject area and work to create a positive learning culture, you will find it easy to select appropriate technology to support learning.