Opening the Gymnasium to the World Wide Web

Article excerpt

Computer technology can enhance the learning of students (Dwyer, 1994). However, it appears that computer technology is underused in the physical education setting. The information in this article may help physical educators justify allocation of a computer for their department.

The computer may be the most pivotal invention in the advancement and delivery of education since the printing press. No resource is more important to storing information than the computer. Even more important than information storage is the rapid accessibility to that stored information. With the development of the World Wide Web, educators now have ready access to current information in a matter of seconds. For instance, a physical educator teaching a unit in baseball could access such things as rules, diagrams, product information, history of the game, lead-up games, or curriculums from other schools. Not only is information easily accessible, but it is current. The World Wide Web can be constantly updated and revised.


Most people are excited about the possibilities of the World Wide Web, but apprehensive because they lack technical working knowledge. The terminology of technology is difficult to understand. The following is a simplified explanation of computer technology.

The Internet is a network of computers that are cooperating together to share information through dedicated data lines or phone lines. Internet cooperation is similar to the interstate system. Interstate 70 will connect Colorado to Indiana, but only if Kansas and Illinois are part of the cooperation.

The World Wide Web (WWW) is a graphical interface allowing users to display textual information enhanced by graphics and pictures. The World Wide Web uses html--hyper-text mark-up language--to display pictures and graphics. A World Wide Web Browser (e.g., Netscape and Mosaic) allows html to be translated into a readable form.

Because of the vast amount of information available via the World Wide Web, finding what you need is not always easy. One tool that makes the process easier is called the search engine. Search engines allow users to specify what information they are seeking and return a list of WWW addresses from a database of cataloged sites that meet those specifications. The list includes hyperlinks to the sites, as well as a summary of information that can be found on those sites. Three of the most popular search engines available are: Alta Vista (, Yahoo (, and Lycos ( (Mills &Jones, 1996). Learning the terminology is only half the battle; you must also know how to use it.

Using Computer Technology

Five areas in which computer technology can be used in physical education are listed:

1. To promote physical education classes. An example of this was described in a 1995 JOPERD article (Churchill, Pivonka, & Topp, 1995). The article described how students from a junior high school in Nebraska used e-mail to organize and conduct a track meet. Seventeen schools around the world participated in the track meet. Each school conducted a track meet and sent in the top three finishes for each event. Scores from all schools were compared and overall standings distributed via e-mail, making it a truly intercontinental track meet (Churchill, Pavionka, & Topp, 1995). This activity is fun for students and can be integrated into learning more about other cultures. For instance, if the class is competing against schools from Ireland, you may want to work with the social studies teacher to create a dual assignment on track history and the history of Ireland.

2. To publicize sporting events and results (Ellery, 1996). The school and/ or physical education department can create a World Wide Web page to publicize school activities and student accomplishments.

3. To promote development (Ellery, 1996). …