In 2001, Marc Prensky posed the concept of students as ‘digital natives’. The idea behind this phrase was the emergence of a new generation- the first generation to grow up inside of a completely digital world. His argument? That these ‘digital natives’ inherently “think and process information fundamentally differently from their predecessors”, resulting in an ill-equipped educational system (Prensky, 2001). In a world that is becoming increasing digitalised, it’s my aim to bridge the gap between technology and the PE classroom, to cater to the learning needs of these so called ‘digital natives’.

Williams (2015)  identifies that children are spending increasingly more time inside on screens, than playing outside. While this is may not be news to us, there is still an ongoing issue here- students are not getting enough physical activity due to the increased role of technology in their lives. This in turn is giving technology a bad wrap, though does technology have its place?

According to the OECD, research suggests educational outcomes can actually decrease with an overuse of technology. However, in moderation technology was found to improve student performance.  The main point of the article, was that while technology can benefit learning, as facilitators of this technology in the 21st century, teachers have not yet mastered the pedagogy to facilitate effective technological use. Overall, student performance was related to how individual students utilised the computers and also how long for.

In terms of PE, Dylan Blain from the University of Wales suggests that students should be encouraged to be more active outside of the school context for transference, and suggests technology can play a role in this. Personally, I agree with this statement. More can be done to not only integrate technology into the PE setting, but also to encourage students to engage with technology outside of the classroom, in a stimulating yet educational manner.

I believe that before we can get transference, we need a solid basis of technology in the classroom to start.  At the present, I don’t believe we have this yet.  As a starting point, perhaps we need to look at what can be done to holistically incorporate technology into the classroom.  This can then create the building blocks for later technological transference.

“Monitoring and feedback is probably one of the best uses of technology for physical activity”

Gavin Sandercock

Technology in PE is already being utilised in schools, with some people arguing increased technology has the potential to waste valuable class time; however educators believe contrary. Benefits to a technological classroom include facilitating student motivation, and also assisting in monitoring students’ activities. Gavin Sandercock director of the Centre for Sports and Exercise Science at the University of Essex states, “monitoring and feedback is probably one of the best uses of technology for physical activity…. When we do studies and give someone an accelerometer, they instantly become more active”. Further, these technologies can assist to “make students more aware of their own health and encourage them to improve their fitness” (Williams, 2015). Evidently, technology is doing good things for the population and our students.

Despite this, my issue is not with whether technology is valuable in PE or not, as I’m sure it is. My concern is with is with incorporating more technology into the PE classroom.  The ‘classroom’ I refer to though, is not surrounded by four walls. It’s the practical classroom- the oval, the netball courts, the tennis courts, the basketball courts, and so on.  It’s any outdoor space utilised for PE. While we know technology in PE certainly has potential, I hope to find a way of integrating the two, creating the same opportunities for students which are available inside a classroom, as in an outdoor PE classroom.

Until next time…