As we all know, technology is an enormous aspect of our everyday lives. In fact, it is such a part of our lives today that most of us don’t even realize that we are using it! While technology has enabled us to solve problems and do things that generations before us could not even imagine, it has also created a more sedentary society. In particular, the Net Generation who have grown up with video games, iPads, mobile phones, etc have become increasingly sedentary. What I propose is that we take this technology and use it to our advantage in physical education classes. I think today we continue to stress over test scores and are so data driven that we often cut out physical activity for our students in the hopes of instilling in them more information. However, studies have shown that the right amount of physical activity leads to better cognitive thinking. Today, there is a plethora of ways to integrate technology into PE and get kids excited about exercising. One method I find very enticing is something called exergaming.
“Exergames involve the player in dance, aerobics, kick-boxing, sports moves, martial arts, virtual window washing, or other forms of physical activity and exertion as the way to interact within the game” (Lieberman, 2006). In other words, exergames are videogames that actually make a person move and engage in physical activity. My suggestion is to implement this type of gaming into schools. I know that I have students where it’s literally like pulling teeth to get them to actively participate in PE class where we do conventional sports. Yes, we can fail them or give them a lower grade, but I would rather see these kids getting exercise during class and enjoying themselves. According to recent studies, “DDR and In the Groove are being used during physical education classes, recess, lunchtimes, and after school in many other school districts in the US, and students, teachers, and parents are very pleased with the results” (Lieberman, 2006). Using this technology in the classroom can make exercising fun for students and excited about working out! It makes enjoyment come first above actually working out. With the mounting health concerns we have in the United States regarding childhood obesity, this can be a new formula for success. According to The Exergame Network, a PE student was quoted stating “Sometimes when you’re playing netball or basketball you get a bit tired and then you say ‘Oh I don’t want to do this anymore’ but this is really fun and I think I could do it all day” (2011). In other words, enjoyment and excitement rank above all else and keep the child engaged and entertained while promoting physical activity. It can give them the confidence of being physically fit and draw them into a healthy lifestyle.
A potential challenge to implementing this type of technology into school systems is the cost. With our economy and consistent budget cuts, it may be hard to conceive spending on so called video-games. However, I know that the benefits will surely outweigh the costs. In my town, our middle school recently opened up a technology lab for physical education classes. This lab has helped to increase the amount of physical activity students receive each week and other teachers reap the benefits of more focused students. Furthermore, looking through a principles blog who installed a lab in his own school, he states “from an efficiency point of view, our lab installation cost about half a staffing unit to create but serves over 500 students and will last a significant number of years” (Lawler, 2010). I strongly believe that more schools should look into something such as a tech lab for their students.
Below is a video that provides further evidence of the success of exergaming for students.
My hope is that this post will inspire academics to realize the importance of physical activity for students and of changing the conventional PE class to inspire students to engage in exercising!
Exergame Network. (2011). Energy Expenditure and Enjoyment During Video Game Play.
Retrieved Sep 21, 2011, from http://exergamenetwork.blogspot.com/
Lawlor, D. (2010). Implementing Exergaming in Schools. Retrieved Sep 21, 2011, from http://www.exergamefitness.com/wordpress/?p=480
Lieberman, D. (2006). Dance Games and other Exergames. Retrieved Sep 21, 2011, from http://www.comm.ucsb.edu/faculty/lieberman/exergames.htm