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Instructional Technology

This is an excerpt from Introduction to Teaching Physical Education 2nd Edition With Web Resource by Jane Shimon.

Although physical education teachers may not have access to Smartboards or 3D projectors in the gym, physical education teachers have a wide range of technologies available to use. Because of the wealth of possibilities, physical education teachers need to determine if using technology in the gym is a good value (Baert 2015; Hagenbach 2017). Using technology for the sake of using technology is not a good justification; there needs to be a purpose. Answer these questions before planning to use technology in physical education: Will technology help motivate students to further engage in learning or physical activity? Will the technology enhance instruction and support lesson learning targets? Does the technology add a novel twist to lesson tasks? Will using technology help teachers do their job more effectively? The following are just a few of the technological resources teachers use in physical education today.

Pedometers and Accelerometers

A pedometer measures daily amounts of general physical activity by recording the number of steps taken. Traditional models, such as the Yamax Digi-Walker, attach to the waistband and record steps using a spring-lever mechanism that measures the upward motion of the hip with each step. Traditional models need to be in a vertical position on a waistband to be accurate, and the measure for slower gaits appears to be less accurate (Bassett et al. 2017).

Advanced pedometer models include an accelerometer anduse a piezoelectric mechanism to measure physical movement or force along three axes (tri-axial), not just along the one plane of motion found in traditional pedometers. In other words, accelerometers can measure movement in every direction, allowing them to be worn around an arm or wrist or even placed in a pocket as well as on a waistband. Some models also include a gyroscope that further measures movement orientation and rotation. The sophistication of these devices is seen in wearable fitness tracker technology such Fitbit, Nike Fuelband, and the Apple watch which can also sync data to a computer or phone apps to document real-time measurements of steps taken, miles walked, intensity, and calories burned. The StepWatch 3, worn around the ankle, appears to be the most accurate pedometer to date (Bassett et al. 2017). While the accuracy of step counts with some current devices are variable, especially at lower and faster walking speeds or if the device is placed in a pant pocket (Bassett et al. 2017; Park et al. 2014), continued research and advances in the technology will only improve the ability of these devices to accurately detect a variety of physical movements.

Even though technology has advanced the use of pedometers, simple pedometers are still an inexpensive and practical choice to use in physical education to help motivate and educate students about daily physical activity (Pangrazi, Beighle, and Sidman 2007). Some teachers design step-count competitions among classes or with faculty, staff, and administrators as a school goal (e.g., walk the entire Mississippi River, step along the Appalachian or Oregon Trail, walk across Colorado), whereas others use pedometers to determine the number of steps taken in physical education class while engaging in a variety of activities.

Mobile fitness tracker

Mobile fitness trackers are a great way to measure the number of steps taken throughout the day.
© Jane Shimon

Exergaming Technology

Active gaming or exergaming—interactive fitness technology—is a popular technology for those who like to incorporate video gaming entertainment with physical activity (Martin, Ameluxen-Coleman, and Heinrichs 2015). Various exergaming programs and systems are available, such as sensor pad technology found in Dance Revolution and Lightspace; motion sensor and handheld remote technology found in Nintendo Wii U, Microsoft Xbox, and Sony PlayStation consoles; and individual and group exercise bike systems that support virtual reality and 3D visual effects. Active gaming videos can be a supplement in helping youth be physically active (Peng, Crouse, and Lin 2013), and to date, research has shown exergaming can have a small effect on improving BMI in overweight or obese children (Ameryoun, Hormoz, Saffari, and Koenig 2018). There are Wii Fit and Xbox school packages available for physical education programs to purchase, although the cost and ability to accommodate large classes are factors to consider for including exergaming in before- or after-school physical activity programs Trends in exergaming have also advanced to mobile gaming apps viewed on smart phones, such as Zombies, Run! and Pokémon GO.

Mobile Devices and Apps

Smartphones, iPads or tablets, and even smartwatches have many uses in physical education to help enhance learning and instruction. Connecting a mobile device to a projector can turn a gym wall into a huge theater screen, which makes this option a great visual tool to use. As discussed in chapter 4, using demonstrations is an important aspect of instruction. Displaying a good YouTube video on the wall is an effective way to illustrate a certain skill, especially when using slow motion to point out a specific aspect of a skill you want students to focus on. Showing a YouTube video of a new game can be a good way for students to get a “big pictu