Core subjects like math, english, and science have often turned to educational technology to improve student learning. But a quality physical education program can also utilize technological tools to help learners with physical activity. From elementary school through high school, programs are integrating technology in physical education.
The importance of technology in physical education
In just about every aspect of our lives, we have seen the importance of technology. The use of technology has allowed us to tap into things we could have never dreamed of.
For years now, physical education teachers have turned to different apps and websites to help monitor physical activity levels and fitness testing. The insights and data that technology has provided are crucial for student growth.
Then the pandemic came, and even more schools had to take physical education classes digital. While this was a crash course in technology integration for some, using ed tech to adapt was essential. Now, schools are embracing the long-term benefits of technology in the classroom.
The benefits of PE technology
The benefits of PE technology are not limited to data tracking or pandemic response. Physical education teachers have seen the benefits of technology in creating more interactive and dynamic lesson plans.
As many schools have aimed to transition from a games to a fitness-based approach, integrating technology in physical education has been crucial. PE lesson plans have shifted so students can get personalized instructional materials right to any digital device.
In a recent survey, one PE teacher from Massachusetts said this about the benefits of technology,
“It helps to level the playing field for all students in PE. Students are already digital citizens and know how to use technology so well. As PE teachers, using smartphones and other technology is a no-brainer in PE!”
Challenges of using technology in physical education
And while it is worth celebrating the importance and benefits of technology in physical education, it does not go without addressing some of the ‘challenges’ associated to using tech with students.
As a subject grounded in physical activity, don’t we want to avoid having students staring down at their mobile devices? We hear it all the time, “PE is the one time of the day students get to disconnect.”
The last thing you want is students’ limited physical activity time to get derailed by social media distractions and screen scrolling. Sure, there will always be a few students who might get off track, but that would happen with or without technology.
Physical education can tap into educational technology and enhance the learning experience just like any other subject. It just takes the right tech plan that will support student learning!
Types of technology in PE
When looking at the different types of technology in PE, you might be eager to jump right to the wearables, trackers, and heart rate monitors that have become popular. And while those can be effective and engaging for students, it is typically helpful to start with technological tools you already have at your disposal.
At most schools now, teachers and students are likely to access to some combination of:
- Video Projectors/TV Monitors
- Smartphones/Mobile Devices
For all these examples of technology use in physical education, let’s look at how actual students and schools make it work inside the classroom.
Video Projectors/TV Monitors
There is typically only one teacher for a large group of upwards of 50 students in a PE class. If a teacher is stuck at the front of the classroom leading any fitness skill or activity, they cannot provide one-to-one feedback and instruction.
Tapping into some sort of video display can be the easiest way for a teacher to go from lecturer to facilitator. By displaying a follow-along video, now the teacher can move about the classroom and provide hands-on guidance to students.
Through this use of technology, you can still limit the number of classroom devices while still benefiting from the powerful impact of technology. In many of these examples, it helps to answer the question ‘how do videos help students learn?”
Examples from in the class – Check out the projector approach!
Mobility Day is @PLT4M Yoga in Advanced PE today. @BR_Schools pic.twitter.com/oiWa3Un0cX— Josh Thompson (@coachthompson44) January 12, 2022
@PLT4M Introduction to #fitnessanywhere today for our Regular Physical education classes. Great Job students. Went extremely well! #SHS @StreatorHigh #MrsWilliams #MrAlbert pic.twitter.com/iG1yfuj1Nx— Brian Hassett (@coachHassett15) January 8, 2021
As one-to-one technology in schools becomes more popular, tools like laptops, ipads, and tablets can be used in physical education. In physical education classes, this can allow for more personalized learning and even more differentiation within large groups.
This can allow students to be doing different assignments and physical activities all in one class. In addition, through an interactive app or system, students can log and track progress throughout a class period. This provides an added bonus for teacher insights.
And even if true one-to-one isn’t a possibility, apps like PLT4M have features that allow students to share devices without losing personalization.
Examples from in the class – Check out the tablet and laptop approach!
School year is underway & the new iPads are in! Each & every one of our 9 racks are equipped with @PLT4M to service our freshmen fitness classes & all of our sports teams! @DSHA_Strength #dasherstrength pic.twitter.com/TgksIu0IqN— BCal✊🏽 (@brian_calhoun2) August 24, 2021
Ts and Ss are in full swing @HoraceGreeleyPE with a strong program consisting of @Project_Adv1971 and @GoGeocaching for in-person instruction, while remote Ss choose from @PLT4M workouts or LIVE yoga classes using @zoom_us! #WeReChappaqua @GreeleySports #PhysEd #hybridlearning pic.twitter.com/fZcSoeMk1V— Chappaqua CSD_Physical Education and Health (@CCSD_HPE) September 16, 2020
Almost every student has one! And if not, similar features for sharing devices are always an option!
Having students tap into their smartphones is a no-brainer when this generation is already so familiar with navigating different apps all day. In addition, the use case is very similar to laptops and other personal devices.
With apps and smartphones, students can log activities, tap into instructional resources, and work at their own pace. Instead of phones only being used for social media, students are empowered to use technology as a tool.
Examples from in the class – check out the personal device approach!
@EHSHuskies we bring in the weight room everyday with @PLT4M ❗️❗️@S2ASystem @txhsfbchat @tnhsfb @KYHighFootball @michiganhsfca @wifca @CACoachesAssoc @CoachMckieJr @SETCA_Coaches @TheLHSCA @gahsfbchat @flhsfbchat @IFBCA pic.twitter.com/mue0a0x0s7— Coach Hargitt (@coachhargitt) March 16, 2021
Bethel Softball Doing. The. Work. today and using their fitness app @PLT4M to track their progress and training program!— Bethel Athletic Department (@BethelBeesAD) October 14, 2021
If you are not in the weight room getting stronger and improving:
#2 @bethelbeessc would like to get to know you 🔥💪🏼 pic.twitter.com/senl1wC6Y1
What about teacher technology use in physical education?
With the addition of technology for students, PE teachers also have opportunities to take advantage of what ed tech can bring. For example, with apps like PLT4M, teachers can monitor progress with a click of a button to see who is making progress and who needs some additional attention.
On top of that, data can easily be communicated to administrators and other stakeholders that want to see what is going on in physical education classes. By incorporating technology in physical education, teachers have an easier time ‘making a case for PE.’
Put Technology in PE Class with PLT4M
Physical education technology doesn’t have to be complicated! Phys ed teachers already have a ton on their plates, so trying to get creative with apps and technology can be intimidating. Not only does PLT4M help with technology integration, but it also aligns with Shape America standards and supports the entire health and physical education curriculum.
Key Takeaways on Technology and Physical Education
The goal of physical education is to address the entire well-being of your students. Therefore, technology does not need to add stress or detract from the overall physical education class.
Incorporating technology in physical education supports students through interactive resources and materials. In addition, it provides a data and feedback loop for students, teachers, administrators, and other key stakeholders.
Physical education programs that seek to introduce educational technology can do so in various ways because there is no ‘one right way’ to go about starting or trying. Ed-tech offers a spectrum of opportunities to provide quality physical education programming that aligns with your school’s mission and goals.
Still not convinced? Check out the Top 5 Benefits of Technology in the Classroom For PE!
What type of lesson plans does PLT4M have?
PLT4M has hundreds of PE lesson plans for middle and high school. Our team of instructors created all of PLT4M’s PE lesson plans that include fitness, nutrition, yoga, pilates, dance, mindfulness, and more.
Does PLT4M align to state and national standards?
Yes, PLT4M programs and lesson plans are aligned to state and national standards.
On top of that, Shape America now has standards aligned to technology use that pairs perfectly with PLT4M. SHAPE America’s National Standards & Grade-Level Outcomes for K-12 Physical Education define what a student should know and be able to do as a result of a highly effective physical education program. This guide demonstrates how the PLT4M programs align with grade-level standards, helping you achieve and accomplish a standards-based curriculum.
How many schools currently use technology in their PE class?
Thousands of schools use technology in their classrooms, and over 1,500 schools are currently using PLT4M. Teachers have taken time and advocacy for schools to consider investing in technology for PE, but more and more schools are starting to see the long-term benefits.
PLT4M is here to help when it comes to advocacy! For example, when physical education teachers do a demo with PLT4M, they are equipped with countless resources to sell administrators and stakeholders.
Does PLT4M integrate with other ed tech?
Yes, PLT4M has connected and integrated with many LMS systems used throughout schools. This allows schools to align their health and physical education programs to the larger school technology and curriculum plan.
PLT4M does not currently connect to any wearables or heart rate monitors apps. However, we are exploring the potential to partner with companies like Polar.