In the recent weeks, I have been doing a number of readings regarding Educational Technology (EdTech) and the best practices for integrating technology into the classroom. There have been a number of debates for and against whether technology should be considered as a tool in class, or if it should be thought of as a skill. I agree with many who believe that the two ideas must go together. That yes technology is a tool, but we must be taught the skills to use it for it to be effective.
I believe that Technology should be used as a tool in classes to achieve the desired learning. Using technology for the sake of using technology, does not necessarily enhance the learning. It may just become a new means to the same end. If technology is to be successfully used in classrooms then students need to be taught how to use the technology available before being asked to create a project etc with the use of PowerPoint for example. Jeff Utecht is his blog post Technology: More than a tool, a new skill discussed this when he wrote,
“The problem is you need to have the skills to use a tool before you can use it properly and have it affect your life in positive ways”
I have always been interested in introducing new forms of technology to help facilitate learning in my PE classes. Over the years I have dabbled with the use of pedometers, heart rate monitors and Palm Pilot for collecting data and video analysis for grading. All great tools, but the skills involved for learning the technology requirements needed to be learnt by me and did not require too much technological input from the kids.
As my studies and knowledge increased I started to try out video feedback and recorded exemplars for skill development (more to come on my final project post). This began to involve the students using the technology more directly and the technology played a major role with their learning and skill development.
Since starting this COETAIL course and messing around I have discovered so many PE/Tech blogs out there (affectionately known as PE Geeks). I have been amazed at the growth and development of tech resources for PE classes out there now and the amount of discussion and support for these developments and for each other.
I read a couple of PE blogs where the authors had been discussing PE teaching apps for their IPhones and it started me on a mission to find comparable Android apps. From one of my favourites, Mr Robbo The PE Geek, I learnt a lot about using PE apps in PE classes and was really impressed by some that “Mr Robbo” himself has developed. We have now had a couple of personal emails going back and forth and he has been a huge help in making me start thinking outside the box. I am excited that he is developing new Android apps for PE teachers and is slowly preparing them for release.
I admit that I started to get a tad too excited about the prospect of downloading all the apps, getting the kids to bring their smartphones to class and thinking about how to get funding for a class load of Ipod Touches. I made contact with another PE/Tech blogger Jonesythe teacher and was interested in his ideas of incorporating tech into the PE classroom, or “having a crack at putting PE into the 21st century” as he calls his blog.
Although I was here at home getting excited about implementing every app possible into PE, Jonesytheteacher wrote in reply to me,
“…. I’m discovering more and more, however, that focusing on tech tools in teaching is a game that you’ll never win, because the tools will keep changing. I’m discovering that learning about learning offers more potential to make the greatest difference to my teaching and ultimately serve our kids most honourably. Rather than concentrating on how to use iPads and apps, for example, focus instead on the learning that should take place (collaboration, student creation of new materials, for instance) and use the tools to achieve that. Combine tech with pedagogies like Project Based Learning or Games Based Learning and you have an incredibly broad field to play in. Already, we’ve moved beyond the “how to” of tech use and we should be into the “why/what for?” when we plan to use tech.”
I’m sure I only asked if he knew of any Android apps out there, but anyway……
I do however aim to try out any apps I can use to see if they can be a successful tool for skill development in my classes. There are other obstacles to hurdle as well such as school policy regarding phones in class and perhaps not every kid having a smartphone in my classes. In saying that, I like the idea of using current technology that the kids are already skilled at and then building on this tech knowledge to help skill development and fitness in my PE classes.