Meet the Expert

Todd Estel Layne

Asst Professor, Health Sport Sciences

Dr. Layne has over ten years experience teaching in public schools and university settings; Research focuses on the Sport Education Model within Physical Education programs. Experience with coaching at both the elementary and high school levels. High school official for both Basketball and Volleyball.

We all know how important it is to exercise daily. Physical activity not only helps us stay in great shape, it also boosts the physical, social, and mental aspects of a person’s development. And in an effort to spark the interest early in children, PE (PE) can become a crucial component. PE is an important aspect of education during the growing years, so it should come as no surprise that introducing physical activity to children at an early age can not only positively influence them, but can also aid in the development of important skills.

Through Physical educators at large, and specifically through team sports, educators can increase the confidence and engagement of children. It’s with this in mind that PE teachers play a pivotal role in the development of the whole child and can produce positive changes in the lives of each student, and a lifetime of interest in physical activity.

PE teachers are responsible for teaching the importance of physical activity, health, and fitness in a K-12 school environment. Of course, in addition to encouraging students to engage in physical activity to stay healthy in school, PE teachers also promote physical fitness in their daily lives (in and out of the classroom). Often times, it can be difficult to engage students and make them feel motivated to exercise regularly. To overcome these challenges, many PE teachers have started turning to technology to create a dynamic and interesting classroom environment where students are excited to work out.

How Has Technology Changed Dynamics for Physical Activity?

For some, working out is a chore. For others, it’s enjoyable… once they get started. Nowadays, there are a plethora of electronic devices that are great for those who are looking to incorporate exercise into their daily routine. If you’re one to need some motivation to work out, getting a fashionable FitBit watch may just be the perfect way to start! This amazing device allows you to track your progress easily in the form of a watch on your wrist. Keeping track of your steps has never been easier! Other popular forms of technology for physical activity include pedometers, heart rate monitors, phone applications, video sources, and even games.

Educators are always looking for practical ways to incorporate technologies, and in some states, they are even evaluated on their use of said technologies in their classrooms. The challenge facing most educators today is consolidating the often high price tag of technology with the micro budgets they are allotted.

Let’s take a quick look at each of these examples to get a better idea of how technology has changed the dynamics for physical activity for the better.

Pedometers

Pedometers are great tools for exercise because they can be used by people of all ages. They provide a convenient way for people to easily track their steps not only when they’re actively working out, but also when they are doing everyday chores like running errands or completing household chores. Having a pedometer will not only keep track of how active you are, it will also remind you to move more if your step count has been low. Additionally, it will serve as an active reminder to keep going!

PE teachers can encourage students to keep a pedometer on hand, whether it’s on their phone or on their wrist. This way, students learn early on the importance of staying active and keeping track of their progress. Progress also allows people to set reasonable goals to reach over time, which is always beneficial when it comes to working out!

Additional Resources:

Very Well:

A thorough resource on how to choose the best pedometer for you.

Wareable:

A fitness tracker feature that delves into pedometers on a popular tech blog.

Women's Health:

A comparison guide from Women’s Health Magazine that considers price, size, functionality, and even style.

Smart-watches

Smart-watches have become a popular and prevalent item for people in general in the past few years. They come in different price ranges and can be found in stores like Target, Costco, and Best Buy, to name a few. Not only do they fashionably display the time like a normal watch would, they also have many other unique features that are great for those who work out regularly. Who can say no to functionality at its best?

Smart watches can take the place of a traditional pedometer and serve as a step counter, for example. Having a smartwatch could be really beneficial to students because they can track the amount of steps they’ve taken throughout the day between walking to classes and doing dedicated exercise in the gym during PE. If you’re one to need music to stay focused on your run or any other exercise routine, smart watches allow you to easily access your music and listen to it via bluetooth. With a price-tag upwards of $300, this integrative and high-end technology may not be a right fit for everyone. But for those households who can afford this great technology, educators can encourage students to create a “workout playlist” that will motivate them to exercise regularly.

Additional Resources:

PC MAG:

A comprehensive comparison guide to smart watches

Heavy:

The Heavy Power list of the top 10 smart watches

CNET:

A complete buying guide for Smart-watches and other fitness trackers

Smart Watches:

A great resource dedicated entirely to Smart-watches and guiding consumers

Heart Rate Monitors

When exercising, it’s important to monitor your heart rate. Heart rates will vary depending on factors like age and fitness level, but using a heart rate monitor is a great way to assess current physical stamina, and set reasonable goals to achieve over time. Every student will be at a different stage, so it would be beneficial for both parties to customize goals that are suited for a specific student’s body.

Customizing goals will naturally get the student more involved in his or her fitness routine, and will help individuals keep track of how many calories they’ve burned from activity.

Additional Resources:

Runner's World:

A straightforward, and easy to digest article explaining how to use a heart rate monitor to achieve your goals.

Wareable:

A great resource for the best heart rate monitors on the market

Riz Knows:

A popular Review channel on Youtube that covers the five best heart rate monitors of 2016

REI:

REI has put out their own thoughtful guide to choosing the right heart rate monitor for you.

Phone Applications

Because who doesn’t have an iPhone nowadays? With more and more young students having access to smartphones, PE teachers can easily use it to their advantage to encourage their students to exercise. And while educators and parents alike probably don’t want students glued to their phones for the entire duration of the class, when there are legitimate educational benefits, the use of phone apps inside and outside of school should be encouraged.

There are many phone applications available that not only help movement tracking, but also provide guides for nutritional help. The importance of fitness and eating a healthy diet are now available at our fingertips through powerful phone applications, and when utilized correctly, can be hugely beneficial.

Phone applications are available for download on both Apple and Android phones. While there are some that require a small fee, there are a plethora of others that are free for download. Some of the popular applications that PE teachers have found useful include:

Additional Resources:

American College of Sports Medicine:

A nice straightforward piece on how smart phones can benefit your health, which covers fitness apps as well as diet and weight management apps.

PC MAG:

Expand your knowledge of the apps that are out there with this comprehensive list from PC Magazine of the 25 top fitness apps of 2016

Greatist:

Check out this list from Greatist of the top 39 health and fitness apps of 2016

Gotta Be Mobile:

A great resource for those looking specifically for apps to help with weight loss.

Applause:

Here you can review not only the best, but also the worst health and fitness apps of 2016

The Internet & Video

Long gone are the DSL days; most of us are fortunate to have access to reliable Internet. This means video streaming on YouTube and more! Knowing this, PE teachers can use this to their advantage and encourage their students to check out videos for workouts and for providing useful demonstrations for skill development on YouTube or Vimeo. There are plenty of useful and interesting videos in the dance and yoga department, for example. The great thing about the Internet is that there is literally something for everyone at every age. Just make sure that the videos you share in class are age-appropriate to the grade you are teaching.

If you’re feeling extra interactive, you could have your students create an instructional video of a workout they love to do, instead of just watching workout videos already on YouTube. Hands on activity is extremely vital for learning at a young age, and there’s no better way to teach a student the importance of exercise than having them do it themselves, conduct some research, and take on the role as “teacher” for the day by presenting their video to the class or even lead the whole school in a morning workout routine incorporating technology. The possibilities are endless!

Additional Resources:

Buzz Feed:

If you’re looking for fun, free ways to get in shape using internet videos, check out this list from Buzzfeed on 18 Youtube Channels to help you get in shape

Huffington Post:

A great resource of best on-line fitness videos from Youtube, Instagram, and beyond.

Pilates Anytime:

For Pilates enthusiasts who want to skip the high price-tag on Pilates studios can learn from the experts at home. There is a fee to access videos, but it’s nominal compared to Pilates Private lessons.

Make Your Body Work:

Another great resource for on-line workout videos. The best part? They’re all free!

Free Trainers:

A useful resource for customizing workouts at home and accessing videos for those workouts

Games

If it’s not smart phones and the Internet, then we’ve got games! Yes, you heard it -- games that encourage physical activity. Sounds sweet, doesn’t it? Well, that’s one way to get your students engaged. If you’re not already familiar with the games available out there that encourage physical activity, you may want to start by looking into Wii Sports, Dance Dance Revolution, and a popular one as of this year (2016), Pokemon Go.

Games like Wii Sports and Dance Dance Revolution allows students to quickly pass time while getting their daily exercise in using controllers. In a big class setting, a sizable screen can be set up for student viewing, and PE teachers could have several controllers and have students take turns using them and complete their exercise for the day. The challenge will be to make sure there are enough controllers, but it could be a great approach.

Pokemon Go is a great game for older students who may not have the full capacity to do extensive cardio. It’s a game that can be downloaded on the phone and people can take long walks in their neighborhood and “catch Pokemon.” This game may be recommended to students outside of the classroom, and even parents for those evening walks! Exercise has never been so exciting.

Additional Resources:

CNN:

A great piece highlighting Phone App/Games (other than Pokemon Go) that will get you moving.

Health Fitness Revolution:

Check out this great resource of the top 10 Healthiest video games.

Gaming:

Another great resource for top exercise games for both kids and adults, designed specifically for the Wii system.

National Library of Medicine:

Check out this great report from The U.S National Library of Medicine that breaks down active gaming as a mechanism to promote physical activity in children

Idea Fit:

When you need a tech break but still want to utilize games to encourage fitness in children, check out this great resource.

Technology in Physical Education Today

As you can see, many new forms of technology have shaped not only how we live our day to day lives, but have also changed the dynamics of the classroom for PE. It’s important to strike a balance between using technology to encourage physical health and activity which allows PE teachers to create more activities and demonstrate the importance of setting and meeting fitness goals, while not completely relying on technology.

Since technology is so prevalent in many students’ lives today, integrating it into their exercise routines during PE class will help them set a good habit of allotting time out of their day to exercise even outside of the classroom. By teaching students how to use various forms of technology for their health, students are able to make use of the devices they own to maximize health benefits outside of the classroom on weekends, for example. Informing students of the available resources they have also eliminates them needing to go out of their way and find these resources to help them sustain a healthy lifestyle in the long run.

Should I Integrate Technology into My PE Class?

It’s a no-brainer that technology makes our lives easier -- for both the students and the teachers… and even parents! The variety of devices available can really help to boost efficiency and keep individuals motivated to track their fitness on a day-to-day basis. In turn, when used properly, it can teach people how to live healthy lives. A teachers’ goal should be to enhance the affective domain, as well as the psychomotor and cognitive domains. Teachers can achieve this by implementing opportunities for students to work together, display sportsmanship, provide peer support, and develop ways to enhance the PE experience together.

Helpful Resources:

As a prospective PE teacher, you may be looking for additional resources that will help you familiarize yourself with what you need to know and what you can expect along the way. We’ve put together a list of the most resourceful links below for your convenience. These resources provide information about PE in general, as well as the integration of technology in the gym or classroom.

Shape America:

Find out general information about the field of PE.

The PE Specialist:

This is a blog that further discusses PE and how technology can help make learning more interactive and effective for students today.

Edutopia:

Learn how to effectively incorporate technology in the classroom.

iPhys-Ed:

Read more about technology in the PE field here.

PELINKS4U:

This is a helpful resource that includes current news, technology tools, and teaching tips for PE teachers looking to incorporate technology into their classroom.