A Shift from Fortnite to Fitness Education: Smartphones in PE

Managing a weight room full of high school students can present challenges for any teacher or coach. The challenges range from having varied experience levels in one class, working on a tight schedule, and trying to stay organized with countless sheets of paper. Diego Matorras, strength coach at the Gilman School in Maryland, knew these challenges all too well.  As the only teacher in the weight room, he was growing frustrated with how inefficient workouts were becoming during class. Training sessions often came to a screeching halt with students frequently asking questions, unsure about what their training cards were telling them to do next. Diego knew there must be a better way. With the rising successes of technology use in education, his first instinct was to consider integration within his own classroom. He worried, though, the inclusion of cell phones or computers in class would lead to a greater distraction. Would trying an app based education tool help streamline his classroom, or would it lead to more frequent Fortnite play and Instagram scrolling from his students?
Taking the Chance with Technology
Diego decided he cared more about student engagement and progress than the potential for irresponsible technology use. He decided to implement PLT4M, an online tool that let him deliver his lessons directly to student’s phones.  At first, some students struggled to use their phones appropriately, and required a little more guidance. However, with Matorras leading the class, it did not take long for workouts and class time to become more productive. Students understood the technology was intended to be a resource, and that they would be held accountable to complete their assigned workouts. Now, students enter class having watched the instructional videos prior to the start of their workout. With this shift, class time is now more effective and phones are used as a personalized delivery tool to get their workouts. Each student accesses their individualized workout on their phone and is motivated by the reinvigorated weight room culture at Gilman. Maximizing class time with the smartphone app is also freeing up time for the teacher leading this technological charge. Matorras can now move about the weight room, proactively coaching rather than answering question after question.  
Rewriting the Script on what Smartphones are Good for.
Not only can Matorras spend more meaningful time with his students, he says when you listen, there is more than just one teacher in the room. “You hear it in the way they talk. With the app and the videos at their disposable, students now teach and guide each other with a deeper understanding of each movement.” The guided instruction, paired with the partnership of PLT4M, has changed the class and the weight room for the better. The culture of hard work and dedication has the school buzzing. Matorras and his fellow teachers and coaches are thrilled to see Gilman students accessing their PLT4M app for training insights, instead of tapping away at Fortnite.

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