Technology is a natural education fit in everything from math to Spanish to literacy. The one corner of K-12 learning that is not so obvious is PE — Physical Education. In that class, we think of physical stuff — not digital — like running and exercising.
But kids love technology’s apps and software. Is there a way to use these to encourage physical fitness? After all, the tie-in between physical conditioning and learning is well-accepted. Here’s what the NY Times reports:
Better fitness proved to be linked to significantly higher achievement scores — a 2013 study reported in PubMed.org.
But, how can teachers use the technology students love to encourage physical education? Here are my favorite websites and apps:
This is a stunningly visual app that takes students right into the human body via virtual reality. Viewers travel down the gastrointestinal tract, the small intestine, the circulatory system, and three other systems. With 360-degree navigation, it is fully interactive, including even tags for important parts. Students can stop and observe while exploring the hotspots. Watch this video—you really won’t believe it.
This is a quick app for making tournament brackets for anything from friendly PE-class rivalry to an official competition. Once all participants (between four and thirty-two) are entered, it’s easy to advance the winner to the next level. Contestants can be paired manually or Bracketmaker will do it for you. The completed brackets can be emailed or printed. Nice that it requires no WiFi or Internet — just works off the app.
Coach’s Eye is one of the top apps I heard about from lots of PE teachers. It is one of the leading video platforms to record an athlete’s performance for playback and review. It records the action and then shows the athlete how to improve, for example, refine a fastball, analyze a golf swing, break down a volleyball serve, improve soccer skills, or demonstrate proper weightlifting form. Videos are available instantly and can easily be compared with earlier videos of the student’s action. The video can be zoomed and panned to analyze details. Users can draw lines, arrows, or any freehand mark right on the video, as well as add audio commentary and slo-mo. Videos can be shared via SMS, YT, and FB.
This app simulates the tense moments of soccer penalty shots as if you were in a final making spectacular goals. The realistic graphics and special effects make you feel as if you are in the match. Controls are intuitive and easy to learn.
With the addition of Google Cardboard, you feel like you’re kicking that final soccer kick.
LifeSaver is an online simulation of a life-threatening occurrence where you (as the viewer) become the only one around who can help. You are asked questions, prompting you to take the next step. Your answers play out on the simulation so you can see what happens based on your choices.
The video is powerful, professional, and pulls the viewer in as a critical part of the emergency.
Website free This simulates the experience of helping a person having a heart attack (or a similar life-threatening experience) at the gym. The student or inexperienced person, once they agree to help (virtually) is walked through the steps that s/he must perform. The next step is based on their earlier choices.
Fee (after free trial)
Sworkit provides over one hundred guided five-sixty-minute workouts built from over 300 exercises that can be customized to personal needs. It incorporates exercise intervals (H.I.I.T + Tabata) and provides access to a real trainer for advice. While it’s an app, there is also access through desktops, Web App and Apple TV.
Technology is changing every part of education, including PE. What are your favorite tools?
Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, contributor to NEA Today, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.