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Research into the use of technology in Physical Education

The dominant discourse in physical education over the last three decades has been focused on the staid pedagogical foundation of the subject. The teaching of physical education seems to have been set and generations of teachers have been content to replicate the practices of their teachers and their teachers' teachers. This traditional, teacher-led embodiment of physical education has been described as 'not fit for purpose' by numerous academics (see Kirk, 2010; Lawson, 2009; Siedentop, 2002 as examples in the last decade alone). In his recent book physical education futures Kirk (2010) described the current and very dominant pedagogy that thrives in the gymnasium and on the sports field around the world as "physical-education-as-sport-techniques." This approach foregrounds the teaching of the isolated techniques of games and activities ahead of understanding and game appreciation. Furthermore, Kirk (2010) believed that the ability to compartmentalise physical education as a technique-based subject into the rigorous time demands of the timetable has further exacerbated the dominance of this approach to teaching. In proffering other approaches, or models of instruction (hereby called models-based practices) Metzler (2005) argued that current instructor-led approaches to teaching in physical education placed content (i.e. the area of activity i.e basketball, athletics, gymnastics etc) at the operating centre of physical education rather than aligning teaching, learning and content. Matters are further confused when considering Lawson's (2009) argument that physical education is not capable of educating in a post-industrial age.

The demands of the 'digital age' prompted Richard Riley, the former United States of America's Secretary for Education, to suggest that we are currently preparing students for jobs that don't yet exist, using technologies that haven't been invented in order to solve problems we don't even know are problems yet. The disparity between this message and the current use of technology in physical education is stark. Up to now, using technology in physical education may have actually reinforced the "physical-education-as-sport-techniques" concept by often focusing on the micro analysis of skill learning, giving the impression that this is the only valid application of technology in physical education. However, the use of technology in schools is expanding at an exponential rate and yet its beneficial use in physical education is barely known. A number of innovative practitioners from around the world have started to incorporate interactive web 2.0 applications (e.g. blogs, wikis, iPads and iPods, flip cameras, online documents and surveys) into their teaching of physical education but do these work? In some reasons technology is seen more than an add on:

In New South Wales we have a multi faceted syllabus designed to explore the individual and their interaction with the world holistically - relationships, sound decision making, individual and community health to name a few. Using technology to complement and enhance our work as teachers seems to be an imperative, not a choice. (Jones, 2010)

In other global discourses mandatory physical education classes have been identified as the key opportunity to 'encourage' school-age children to be involved daily in 60 minutes or more of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (Chow, McKenzie, & Louie, 2009; Strong et al., 2005). Indeed such physical activity engagement is seen as an primary goal of physical education (National Association for Sport and Physical Education, 2004; Puhse & Gerber, 2005; World Health Organization, 2004) in light of growing obesity and type II diabetes epidemics (Chow, McKenzie, & Louie, 2009). In light of the changing health climate is there is a strong increase in technology in schools who are seeking to use technology tools that promote activity engagement.

Despite considerable funding to allow information and communication technology (ICT) to make "a significant contribution to teaching and learning across all subjects" (Department for Education and Skills, 2003, p. 7) physical education was, until the recent national curriculum revamp in 2007, the only subject without a statutory requirement for its use (Tearle & Golder, 2008). Unfortunately, and despite the explicit need for ICT to be used in physical education at Key Stage 3 (11-14 years old), the extent to which it is recommended is for recording and reviewing performance and tracking personal progress (Tearle & Golder, 2008). It must be acknowledged that ICT hardware and software cost money which in terms limits the ability of schools to purchase and maintain up-to-date equipment. Furthermore some physical education teachers see the use of any technology or innovation as detracting from the core purpose of the subject i.e. to get people moving to learning (Casey, 2010). Finally there is as yet little evidence that shows that a) students engage with technology in its many forms and b) how the use of technology in physical education might impact on their i) dispositions to be physically active and ii) their embodied self-identities. Indeed, does such micro-analysis and assessment technology lead to greater involvement in physical activity and does it enhance – or merely reinforce – the staid pedagogies of physical education?

This PhD will critically explore the impact of technology on teaching and learning in physical education in enhancing student understanding and disposition towards the subject. It will be about exploring and discovering what works, what doesn't and what works best. This "will certainly be a question on many PE teachers' lips as they strive to introduce technology into their classroom in a meaningful and valid way. Is it worth it? Should I do it? Will it help?" (Jones, 2010).

References

Casey, A. (2010). Practitioner research in physical education: Teacher transformation through pedagogical and curricular change. Unpublished PhD thesis, Leeds Metropolitan University.

Chow, B.C., McKenzie, T.L., & Louie, L. (2009). Physical activity and environmental influences during secondary school physical education. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 28, 21-37.

Jones, B. (2010, July 21). [Comment to blogpost: research into use of technology in physical education]. Physical education practitioner research network. Retrieved July 21, 2010, from http://www.peprn.com/2010/07/research-into-use-of-technology-in.html#comments

Kirk, D. (2010). Physical education futures. London: Routledge.

Lawson, H. A. (2009.) Paradigms, exemplars and social change. Sport, Education & Society, 14(1), 97-119.

Metzler, M.W. (2005). Instructional models for physical education. Scottsdale, AZ: Holcomb Hathway.

National Association for Sport and Physical Education (2004). Moving into the future: National standards for physical education (2nd ed). Boston: McGraw Hill.

Puhse, U., & Gerber, M. (Eds.). (2005). International comparison of physical education: Concepts, problems, prospects. Oxford, UK: Meyer & Meyer Sport.

Siedentop, D. (2002). Content knowledge for physical education. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 21(4), 368.

Strong, W.D., Malina, R.M., Blimkie, C.J., Daniels, S., Dishman, R., Gutin, B., et al. (2005). Evidence based physical activity for school-age children. The Journal of Pediatrics, 146, 732–737.

Tearle, P., & Golder, G. (2008). The use of ICT in the teaching and learning of physical education in compulsory education: how do we prepare the workforce of the future? European Journal of Teacher Education, 31 (

World Health Organization (2004). Global strategy on diet, physical activity and health. Geneva: World Health Organization, The Fifty-seventh World Health Assembly.

Comments From The Previous Blog...

On 21 July 2010 03:55 jonesytheteacher said...
An admirable focus for your work, Ashley. It will certainly be a question on many PE teachers lips as they strive to introduce technology into their classroom in an meaningful and valid way. Is it worth it? Should I do it? Will it help?

Up to now, using technology in PE may have actually reinforced the "physical education -as-sport" concept by often focusing on the micro analysis of skill learning, giving the impression that this was it's only valid application in the subject. In a Sport Medicine/Exercise Physiology course, perhaps so. But the world is much more complex than that, and so is the subject known as Physical Education. In New South Wales we have a multi faceted syllabus designed to explore the individual and their interaction with the world holistically - relationships, sound decision making, individual and community health to name a few. Using technology to complement and enhance our work as teachers seems to be an imperative, not a choice. Exploring and discovering what works, what doesn't and what works best will be a very interesting journey. Good Luck!


On 25 July 2010 12:09 Joey Feith said...
I think there is such great potential for technology in Physical Education, but I feel as though so many people are narrow-minded about how it can/should be used. Pedometers, heart rate monitors, and video feedback materials are all fantastic tools, but they're not as groundbreaking as they once were in Physical Education.

Web 2.0 has provided us with tools that, more than ever before, make it easier to have students engaged in their learning inside and outside the school environment. All we need now is to shift our PE students' focus away from their skill-related performance in class to having them learning about and engaging in healthy lifestyle habits before, during, and after school hours.

I'm glad to see that someone who has proven to be capable of stepping outside of his comfort zone to learn and accept new challenges has decided to research how we can move PE from a few hours of sport engagement per week to continuous active learning and living via the application of modern technology tools to PE pedagogy.

Best of luck, Ash!


On 4 August 2010 07:59 Coach100k said...
This should be a valuable study. As educators we often think of technology in the classroom as the use of computers and the hard and software that goes with it.

In physical education it can also include the equipment used to develop strength and conditioning. For example, the website http://www.artofstrength.com (I have no association with them) uses kettle bells and heavy ropes in their strength training programs. That is using technology as they use those instead of dumb bells or machines.

It seems to me that physical education hasn't yet clarified its mission. In most school districts I know of they have separated health and physical education with physical education still focusing on sports and games and health education focusing on everything else.

In physical education classes the technology being used is sports equipment that has been around for ages.

PE teachers have a challenging job with a mission of both getting children to be physically active, teaching fitness, and teaching sports skills.

There is so much for PE and health teachers to cover and technology most definitely could have a tremendous role far beyond the use of computers.

As you develop your work more you may want to share it at http://www.physical-education-institute.com, which seems to be a new site that allows you to create your own page. Just click on their submissions link.

Best of Luck

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On Tuesday 17 June at 08:11 Frank Wilson said
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