In Light of the Editorial in the February 2006 JOPERD, Do Online Physical Education Courses Meet NASPE's Standards for Quality Physical Education?

By Wiseman, Doug; Malkinson, Brian et al. | JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, May-June 2006 | Go to article overview
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In Light of the Editorial in the February 2006 JOPERD, Do Online Physical Education Courses Meet NASPE's Standards for Quality Physical Education?


Wiseman, Doug, Malkinson, Brian, McCarthy, Hollie, Crider, Duane A., JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance


A totally online experience in physical education would fall short of ensuring that prescribed outcomes would be satisfied. There is no question that online education has merit for certain courses and portions of others--particularly when cognitive results are the primary focus. It also makes access to the information more readily available for those unable to attend classes or visit libraries. But it does not do much to guide the learner through motor experiences. Here are three reasons why:

1. Lack of feedback. One of the important components of any lesson on movement is to offer critiques on positions that students are assuming during their performances. Although students might memorize the strategies that are provided in the online lesson, that is a far cry from translating the cognitive impulses to goal-oriented motor behavior.

2. There is strong evidence that modeling can do much to assist one in learning skills. When students observe others who are performing the skill in a desirable way, it is helpful to the acquisition of the skill or skill component. An online experience is unlikely to offer that ingredient.

3. Instructors are best able to measure their own success, and adjust their teaching strategies, when able to observe how students respond to the teaching method. To be teaching in a vacuum without eye-to-eye interaction can be compromising to the teaching and learning processes.

In short, a successful physical education program has a number of goals, including gaining knowledge, acquiring favorable attitudes, developing physical fitness, and improving motor performance. It is the goal related to motor performance about which I am most concerned. In our present society, it seems that there is an overemphasis on trying to make things easier. Yes, online learning experiences can be easier for some topics, but not for the acquisition of optimum motor learning.

--Doug Wiseman, professor emeritus, Plymouth State University, Plymouth, NH.

Most students are familiar with online classes, or have experienced some component of learning that allows for classroom discussion in a chat room or on a discussion board. Online classes allow quizzes and exams to be taken in the comfort of your home, and lecture notes are often available at the click of a button. I have had the opportunity to take online classes in English, health, and even physical education. Those classes served their purpose in periods of difficult scheduling and time constraints, but were they beneficial to me as a learner?

The physical education class I "participated" in was, of all things, an activity class. As an online learner, I was to take part in a yoga routine three times a week, followed by a journal entry describing my experience. At no point in the class was there any human interaction; I simply had to push "play" on my DVD player and maneuver my way through odd and unfamiliar movements. There was no opportunity for teacher feedback, peer feedback, or simply having the support of others who might be experiencing this new, and sometimes odd, form of movement. From my perspective as an educator, there was little or no opportunity to check for understanding, assess the physical progress of a student, or hold the students accountable for physical activity. In regard to the NASPE standards, OLPE can address only two of the six standards. When teachers can only receive written information from their students, the only type of assessment available to them is within the cognitive domain. For a student to become competent in a motor skill, they need to have student-teacher interaction.

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