Keep IT Simple: A Vanilla Approach to Teaching Physical Activity with Technology

Early in my career, I sought to be cutting edge with technology to stay ahead of my digital-native students. My ambition was to challenge them with new uses of technology, applied to physical education and fitness on various projects and assignments. What I found was that technology obstructed the learning process. Why was technology hampering their learning?

My curiosity led me to discover that it is a misconception that the next generation of students is inherently tech-savvy (Tanner, 2011; Wang, Hsu, Campbell, Coster, & Longhurst, 2014). While the modern student is often good at accepting and working with new gadgets and applications, they are not necessarily technologically literate.  In other words, do they have the ability to apply technology in the context of academic content and professional communication?

While technology literacy is an important part of the education process, it is less important than students practicing lifetime fitness and physical education. Stated differently, the limited time we have with students should stay focused on learning physical activity. The exception is in physical education teacher preparation and other health-related professional development, where more time is dedicated to technology competence. When working with more general populations where the intent is to promote active lifestyles, it is more important to maximize time focused on each individual’s physical activity. Based on this premise, the best approach to technology in health and physical education is to keep it simple.

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