I was asked this week to think about how technology could be used in whatever subject I was planning to teach. In my case that means physical education. At first, I will be honest, I was kind of stumped. How could technology be used in place of a soccer ball or volley ball? I know there are games out there such as the Wii that allows you to play simulation games but you do not improve or develop the motor skills required in those games. Another issue with the Wii idea was no school would likely have a class set of Wii Fits to use. I began to look at the different technology that I use with the varsity rowing program and came to the conclusion that I was looking at the wrong type of technology. Instead of looking at technology that replaced sport, I started looking at technology that enhanced sport and fitness. Tools that could be used well past graduation.
The first idea that I had was a heart rate monitor. The rowing team does certain workouts to target different heart rate zones which in turn trains different types of muscle fibres and improves aerobic and anaerobic fitness. Like the Wii idea I knew a lot of the high schools would probably not have a class set of heart rate monitors to use, but there are now apps that allow you to take your heart rate through a phone or tablet. Many kids have phones that are capable of supporting this technology, and the ones that do not would be able to borrow from their classmates or through a device a teacher has. In some cases students might actually have a heart rate monitor of their own that they could wear. Students could track their heart rates through out different units and activities to see if there is improvement in fitness throughout the year. This is a tool that is valuable to be used as you get older.
The next idea I had was to introduce the different running and fitness apps that can be used. Some apps such as Runkeeper save your workouts and allow you to track and compare different workouts. It allows you to see your time, your distance, the speed you were going, in turn, allowing you to set goals for yourself in future workouts. There are other apps that help you set up interval workouts while others track all different types of fitness activities. Not only would this technology allow my students to chart their progress throughout the year it would also give them tools that they could use as adults when in charge of their fitness.
To expand on the fitness apps you could look at nutrition apps as well. A healthy lifestyle requires more than just physical activity. It requires proper nutrition and sleep as well. There are currently many different apps and computer programs/websites out there that allow you to track and analyze your diet. In some you can input your physical activity and it will help you figure out how much you need to eat and what to eat to keep you healthy. With the continuing rise in obesity this is another tool the students could use to keep themselves healthy as they grow older.
With the three ideas that I have listed above my students would be able to personalize and watch as improvements are made in their fitness throughout the year. Over extended holidays such as Christmas or spring break students might even be able to see a decline in their fitness level. Seeing the decline as well as improvement might motivate my students to stay more active in general and in the years after high school PE is over. Even if there is no instant realization at least later in life they would have the tools and an idea on where to start to improve their health and fitness. With the right technology physical activity and sport can be enhanced for the better.
Photo source: https://www.verywell.com/polar-h7-heart-rate-monitor-3436013