Many people believe only two kinds of people exist in this world, those who are tech savvy and those who are not. People who believe this have already classified themselves into the latter category. They believe that tech savvy teachers simply walk around, see a new gadget and know a thousand different ways to use it in their classroom. They are frustrated that figuring out how to use technology in physical education classes doesn’t comes as intuitive as “those techies”.
“It's’ easy for you . You’re techie” That's what my physical education teacher colleague said to me after a professional development session on a new tech concept. It’s easy for me! Seriously? He simply dismissed the last ten years of intentional design. Ten years of ideas of using tech tools. Ten years of failures and lessons that never worked. Some people say that I am a natural techie, which is right after being a natural heart surgeon. For most of us, being tech savvy is developed through hard work, directed attention, and relentless engagement in understanding any tech tool. The truth is, most physical education teachers don’t realize they have the ability to be savvy in integrating technology into their PE classes. We have to have a process that helps us ask the right questions when using any technology tool.
Here is a framework for integrating any tech tool and will help you be more tech savvy:
1. Start with Why
After seeing the TED talk by Simon Sinek I was challenged to know my why; “To motivate people to be physical literate so that we can be better equipped to make our world a better place”. Terri Drain’s “Unleash the power of OUR why”, at SHAPE Nashville, reminded me how important it is for teachers to know their why. When using technology, it is important to remember your purpose. Why are you using this piece of technology? How is it helping to enhance your learning objectives?
Teachers are bombarded with many shiny new apps designed for education. It can be enough to make our heads spin. We want to use technology that is meaningful and manageable for ourselves and our students. Technology, when used with purpose can have incredible effects on student learning in physical education.
2. Prioritize learning objective over the tool
Technology cannot replace good teaching. This is the drum that so many have beaten about technology in education – but for good reason. It’s not about the technology; it’s about student learning. Good teachers use ed tech to help accomplish their learning objective and to motivate students. Good teachers also start with the learning objective, not the technology. This is certainly true for PE teachers incorporating technology in their in physical education curriculum.
3. Innovate like a turtle
Implementing too mange changes in our physical education classroom is a recipe for disaster. Trust me from experience, start out small and make sure your students know how to use them to your satisfaction before adding more new elements. Like Vicki Davis so eloquently puts it “Innovate like a turtle” (Check out her podcast explaining this principle: Click here) Innovation takes times. We don’t have to put so much pressure on ourselves to do every single thing. Just innovate a little bit each day (to incorporate technology) and you will be amazed how quickly it adds up. Take fifteen minutes every two to three weeks to bring something new to your physical education class. Make the most of the little time you have.
4. Fail often, fail forward
I meet so many teachers who do not want to try to integrate technology into their classroom because they are afraid of it not working out. Trust me there will be problems. The Wi-Fi will go out or the sound to your video will stop working, your heart rate monitors may fail, the schools web filter will block the site you want the students to use, you name it, it will happen. How can we expect our students to take risk if we cannot even take the first step? Model risk-taking in your classroom. Magic happens when you are willing to push yourself and your students outside of your comfort zones.
5. Change our mindsets
Kasey Bell sums up how we should frame our mind about using technology — "Technology is not a solution but an opportunity". We have to ask ourselves what can we do differently now that we have technology. (The) SAMR model, created by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, offers a progression for teachers looking to adopt technology in their teaching and their students’ learning. The model’s name is an acronym for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition.
When you are designing your PE lessons do you ask yourself “is there a tech tool that would enhance this physical education lesson? What can I do now that I couldn’t do without the tech tool?” How can I take advantage of my PE teaching situation? If we never ask the right questions how can we as PE teachers expect to find creative ways to innovate technology into our physical education classroom and through the use of mobile technology.
6. Understand the purpose of any tool
Sometimes we will use a tool that we don’t fully understand, or how it works for students. Maybe we are at a conference and it looks amazing. Maybe another teacher can’t stop talking about how amazing Plickers are. Before putting it in the hands of students, with an app or piece of technology. Make a test account, and figure out what questions your students will have.
As physical educators, don’t be afraid to ditch the technology if it doesn’t improve your learning objective. It took me about a year of testing and researching to learn how to use Plickers in my classroom. Technology, when used with purpose can have incredible effects on student learning.
7. Students are tech dependent not tech savvy
Don’t assume students already know. We assume most students today are tech savvy, however the truth is they are tech dependent. It is true that they are born in a technology laden country. They understand terms, devices, video resources and apps that most of us don’t. That does not mean they have the ability to pick up any digital tool instantly. Like us, students need to develop a comfort level with any new technology. I think it is up to us as educators to teach students how to use tech in a positive way.
8. Chefs or cooks?
The quoted phrase, attributed to Pennsylvanian teacher and Director of
Learning and Innovation at Centennial School District, A.J. Juliani, has been my rallying cry since I first heard it. I don’t want my students just be able to see me use technology, I want them using it. I want them creating and inspiring new ways to be active.
What is harder? Watching a video on different types of exercise and being quizzed over them, or creating an instructional flyer and video for one specific exercise. They both might be hard but one of those Dr. Google can answer in 2 seconds (What I tell my students when they are stuck to use). Prioritize creating over consuming. Check out A.J. Blog post here.
What Now? How can you become better at integrating technology into physical education?
So sick, so sick of of hearing I can’t and oh so tired of being sick. What I am sick of? I am sick of hearing physical educators telling me they can’t learn new technology and oh so tired of doing nothing to help. Technology has changed our world and will continue to change it in ways we can’t even imagine. It is a true learning process. To prepare and motivate students for this world, we need to dramatically change the way we teach. If physical education is going to remain relevant — if PE teachers are to remain relevant to their students — we must adapt.
I would challenge any physical education teacher thinking of using technology to have the confidence to act. I would love to help any PE teacher that has questions about how to use ANY tech tool or concept. Feel free to connect with me on twitter @CoachAdamsPE. There are so many great Physed and Healthed Geeks on Twitter that are ready and willing to help.
Also check out my post on, Top Tech Tools In PE
Google Certified Educator Level 1 & 2
Flipped Learning Level 1 Certified
Alex Adams has been teaching physical education(PK-12) for 9 years at Hinsdale Adventist Academy (Chicago,IL) and currently is at Madison Academy (Nashville, TN). Alex wants to Inspire confidence and motivation in people to become physical literate so the we can better equipped to change the world.
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