There are many ways that teachers can incorporate technology in an elementary school physical education class. Some good examples include, pedometers, heart rate monitors, health tracking programs, and video resources. The first three examples are wonderful ways for elementary-age students to learn about the importance of exercise and good health, but with limited class time available (typically only 30 minutes) these are probably better suited for secondary-age students. Limited budget is also an issue for this type of technology, although teachers can find creative funding methods though options such as grants. Showing students short animated videos for warm-ups or You Tube videos of a specific sport or fitness skill are both effective visual learning aids. Keeping these videos short, however, is important due to the limited class time.
It will be difficult, however, to use technology that will help students express their creativity in an elementary school physical education class. One of the few ways that some physical education teachers are helping students express their creativity with technology is through “exergaming.” Exergaming is where students play movement video games, such as Wii Sports and Dance Dance Revolution. The teacher projects the video from the game on a wall or screen and has the students rotate the video game controllers while the rest of the class follows along with what activity they are doing (http://www.spark.com. 2016). Exergaming would provide a way for students to express their own creativity through individual body movements and which games they would choose to play. This addresses the second component of ISTE Standard 1: create original works as a means of personal or group expression.
There are many issues, however, around the use of exergaming in a physical education class. The biggest issue is that while it encourages movement (and at home decreases sedentary television watching), it can be a poor substitute for actual physical activity and sports play. The movements used for many of these types of games is not conducive to the actual psycho-motor skill needed for a particular sport or fitness activity. It also can create a negative, chaotic classroom environment where students are not fully participating and equal time at the video game controllers will be difficult to manage. In addition, many of the parents will probably dislike the fact that their children are playing video games at school. In short, the negatives of exergaming outweigh any perceived positives.
Physical education teachers need to be careful that they are not just doing “technology for technology sake.” It needs to have a practical application or benefit for their student’s learning. The noise of this digital information can be overwhelming. It can create a numbness to the outside world and limit the ability to retain and reflect on essential learning (Dillon, 2014). In an elementary school physical education setting a limited amount of technology has its place, but the majority of the class time should be focused on movement and the development of the student’s fundamental psycho-motor skills.
Dillon, B. (2014). The Age of the Digital Story, Edutopia.com. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/the-power-of-digital-story-bob-dillon.
www.spark.com (2016). Using Technology in Physical Education. Retrieved from http://www.sparkpe.org/blog/using-technology-in-physical-education/.