Coach Logic’s founders Mark and Andy both come from a physical education background, so it is little wonder that they are keen to see Coach Logic technology being used to enhance students’ performances on the playing fields.
But the use of technology is far more than just a professional (some may say biased) interest from the Coach Logic team. Much research has been carried out that shows that using technology in appropriate situations can enhance learning and engage a wider audience.
What PE teacher would not like that as an outcome?
Evidence is overwhelming when it comes to the positive impact sport and physical activity can have on the health of secondary school children. Besides the obvious need for activity when it comes to the fight against obesity, there are so many other benefits to active teenage years. The development of healthy life habits, improved concentration, healthier bone development, improved classroom behaviour, even higher educational aspirations.
With a clear tie-in between physical activity and the ability to learn, most parents and students recognise the value of physical education; sometimes it is just a case of pushing the right buttons to get the student to put the theory into practice.
What physical educators are now realising is the value of digital tools when it comes to engaging with students, improving performance and enhancing understanding of a range of aspects related to physical education. Skill acquisition, biomechanics, anatomy and physiology are all areas where digital technology can bring a new dimension to learning.
In the general education scenario digital tools are having a very positive impact on the learning process.
A survey of 2,600 high school students showed that applying technology to education had helped reduce stress by 45 per cent, improved confidence by 57 per cent and helped prepare for lessons by 67 per cent. The conclusion of the report suggested that by integrating digital devices into the learning environment, schools improved learning and boosted good study habits.
Here are some ways that technology can be applied to the physical education learning process:
- Teachers themselves can use video technology for individual instruction and skill assessment. Feedback from a school in West Suffolk catering for students with autism found using video feedback was particularly effective when teaching new skills.
- Students can create videos of their peers, identifying and filming best practice or identifying and correcting errors in technique or performance. From a teaching perspective, videoing students who are performing a task well and then highlighting it is a strong means of reinforcing student behaviour.
- Reviewing sports videos featuring professional athletes allows students to identify and observe elite sport and best practice.
- Creating health video projects demonstrating proper diet and lifestyle for student-aged, healthy people is a great way of reinforcing messages about healthy eating and exercise.
- Using apps such as Muscle Pro helps students to identify muscles, joints and connective tissues in the body.
- Blogs and Vlogs that encourage students to document their physical education experiences are a great way of tapping into student creativity. These might be training-focused blogs, match reports or blogs focused on lifestyle/diet/exercise programmes that the students are following.
Fitness monitors and activity trackers are another popular and relatively cheap way in which technology can be introduced into physical education lessons. By measuring steps, calories or time spent active, students can become knowledgeable, involved and empowered to take control of their own health and exercise.
For a whole school strategy, the technology helps to create long-term plans for the health of the school community – maybe offering evidence that more time devoted to activities is needed.
Then of course, there is the technology available through platforms such as Coach Logic, where students can record and provide feedback on performance. Whether the student is taking the role of athlete, coach or official, these platforms can play a vital role in the learning process.
In what can only be music to the digital generation’s ears, there is overwhelming evidence that digital technology enhances the student learning experience in physical education.
For example, the use of video clips can be used to facilitate a more effective instruction in physical education.
In one case study, a physical education teacher at a school in Sydenham, south London, encourages her pupils to use i-Pads to record their gymnastic performances. They are able to receive immediate feedback on their skill development and to document their learning.
At another school, a parental and student initiative has led to all school sports fixtures being communicated via a Facebook page. Parents and students know when and where matches are being played. In addition, they can upload images and match reports and interact with each other through a closed, private group.
A school in Cambridge live streams action from school matches at the playing field to the dining room so pupils on a break can watch the action on the pitch.
While most students have access to digital devices for things such as fitness monitoring and any social media initiatives, there is obviously a cost to the widespread use of other technology. Like the technology itself, this calls for an innovative approach. Grants and funds may be available through either education or health bodies; parent associations may be persuaded to contribute to the purchase of technological equipment to support health projects. The school budget may have surplus, which calls for the PE dept to put forward a good case to receive money to further its adoption of technology on the playing field or in the gym.
Dr Dwayne Sheehan, a lecturer in Physical Education at Iowa University, USA said:
“The use of technology in PE provides a stimulus for engagement to those students who have started to lose interest in more traditional forms of physical activity.” - Dr. Dwayne Sheehan
Far from being the bad guy in the corner that prevents students from being active, digital tools, when used with imagination, can be a fantastic partner in getting more students active, interested and knowledgeable in their physical development.