Technology in PE Class

Back in September I made a promise on this blog. Actually, I promised a number of things. One of those was to talk more about how to use technology in PE class. So here goes!

Obviously, with the nature of most PE classes, mobile technology is going to be the natural choice, so I am going to focus on tablets and phones. Based on what is most easily available (and somewhat dependent on age) I will narrow the focus even more to iPads and both teacher and student phones. And just so you know, I am going to ignore the whole “if you take the iPads out of the classroom, students might drop them” argument. iPads are meant to be used in all kinds of environments and limiting them to the safety of a classroom doesn’t make sense!

So, how can you use a mobile device in PE class? Well, the first, most obvious choice in my mind is to use the camera. Start by taking video of a student doing a skill, like a layup or a cartwheel. As a teacher, you can use the video for assessment or for showing other students what the ideal skill looks like. 

Even better, get out a set of iPads and have students use them for much the same purpose. They can record a fellow student doing a skill and then, using iMovie or another app, they can do a voiceover indicating whether or not the skill was well done or what could be improved. They could also use video to make tutorials for skills. These could then be shared with younger students or used to assess their understanding of the skills they were teaching. Note that video can be shot at regular speed or slowed motion to give an even better view of the skill.

The camera could also be used in burst mode (where the camera takes a series of pictures very quickly) to show a very specific part of a skill. A number of years ago my daughter wanted to know if her toes were pointed in her split jump so I took a burst photo of her and was able to catch her in motion. Her front foot was pointed but her bacK? Not so much. The picture helped her realize she needed to stretch that back foot out more!

Are you doing a fitness unit? Use an iPad at each station. The iPad could be loaded with a coaching video of what the students need to do there. Each time they move to a new station, they follow a new video. Students could record their results on a device and then use those results to create charts or graphs of their progress.

There are a number of apps that might help with PE. Hiit Timer can be set up for intervals of work and rest. Most mobile devices have a clock app with a timer and stopwatch built in. Doing a dance unit? Lots of music is on Youtube!

What about team sports? The app Team Shake provides a fair, non-biased way to choose teams for friendly games and the app Bracket Maker can help you with tournaments. If you teach older students who are playing more serious games, have the team manager or another student helper record games. These can be used afterwards for pointing out plays that went well (or didn’t!)

If you are having your students create games, they can use a device to record the parameters and rules of their new game. They can also create video examples and instructions.

So, the next time you think about what you are going to do in PE class, think about how technology could help you out!

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