Including Technology in Instructional Programs

Article excerpt

The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of technology that can enhance learning in physical education and exercise science instructional programs at the K-12 level and in colleges and universities. Although technology is widely used in physical education programs, it is generally limited to software and equipment that assesses students' fitness or to the Internet as a means to obtain and share information. For example, Physical Best provides software to help track students' progress and generate reports, and commonly used equipment includes heart rate monitors and pedometers. While this deserves applause, many additional forms of technology are available, although usually only at the college level.

A previous Technology Tips article, "DVD Authoring for HPERD Practitioners and Students" (Mikat, Barnd, & Anderson, 2003), focused on the use of DVDs and presented important information to help readers understand the equipment needed to author DVDs. But what else is being used in the field that can enhance learning?

Dramatic improvements in the quality and quantity of instructional technologies have created a unique challenge, as well as an opportunity to better serve increasingly sophisticated students. These advances can be divided into the following categories: research, applied, and presentational. Like technology itself, these categories are fluid. For example, heart rate monitors and pedometers, once considered primarily to be research tools with little instructional value, are now frequently used by students in physical education classes (Morgan, Pangrazi, & Beighle, 2003). These technologies provide augmented feedback and further instruct the students in quantifying their exercise experience.

Research Tools

Students in exercise physiology laboratories get hands-on experience with both new and traditional research tools. Real-time metabolic gas analysis is now possible, and technology now enables students to perform EKGs, EMGs, digital blood-pressure analysis, tests of pulmonary function, and the measurement of reflex and reaction time. Students in stress-management courses have the benefit of biofeedback analyses of finger temperatures, galvanic skin response, and respiratory effort. While not vital to the educational process, these devices offer students corroborating experiences, which today's educational consumers increasingly demand. Additionally, technology facilitates collaborative research opportunities between students and faculty at an unprecedented level.

An application that can enhance virtually every area of the physical education curriculum, both in research and in teaching, is the PEAK motion analysis system. The advent of digital video cameras has simplified data collection, and some systems are now capable of both sport-skill analysis and automated digitizing. This technology has important implications for kinesiology students learning both quantitative and qualitative analyses. For example, joint angles, limb velocities, acceleration, center of gravity, and point-mass trajectories can be calculated and compared among different skills and under different conditions. These results can then be imported to interactive multimedia presentations to provide students with a better understanding of the importance of breaking skills into components and the consequences of subtle variations in technique.

Technology for Teaching

The PEAK system can be expensive for schools, so an alternative is the use of videotape analysis (Mitchell, 2001). The various approaches to joint and muscle analysis all begin by observing a skill and analyzing each phase of the performance. Watching a series of elite performances will help students to understand the basic techniques in the action being studied. After viewing a number of different skills in a variety of sports, in regular and slow motion, students can videotape one another's performance in class. …