By Cindy Sisson Hensley, Co-Founder of ConnectTIVTY
At the forefront of physical education today are discussions of swapping old gym standards like dodgeball and kickball for games that incorporate technology. Using technology in P.E. may seem counterintuitive to old-timers, but today’s youth engage more with physical games that utilize technology. And if the objective of P.E. is to help students develop a lifelong affinity for physical activity, than using innovative, motion-centric technology is one strong tool in P.E. teacher’s toolboxes that shouldn’t be overlooked.
“Typically, there is so much focus [in P.E.] on star athletes and the sports they play,” said Artie Kamiya, National P.E. Institute co-chair. “A new chapter in the battle against childhood obesity has begun by helping P.E. teachers activate all of their students with a wider variety of games, sports and exercises that can be continued through life.”
The national childhood obesity epidemic has forced experts to rethink how P.E. has been taught in the past. Today’s kids think sports are boring – 84 percent say they sometimes wish they had more fun when playing youth sports. Not surprisingly, 42 percent say they’d rather play video games than sports, and when asked why, 74 percent said video gaming is more fun.
This critical, negative feedback should raise alarm bells for all school P.E. programs. Now, more than ever, it is imperative for educators to design evidence-based P.E. programs that speak the language of today’s modern students. That means putting more emphasis on technology and creating curriculums that cater to all students, not just those who are naturally physically active.
Zamzee was among the newest technologies presented at last week’s National Physical Education Institute, a conference devoted to improving physical education and obesity prevention programs for grades K-12. Many participants (most of whom were P.E. teachers) were amazed by the potential of the Zamzee online social enterprise and rewards program to engage students in exercise. Educators saw Zamzee as a unique and fun way to engage and track physical activity levels for students and adults.
Incorporating technology into P.E. is clearly a trending topic in physical education research and curriculum design. And with good reason. Technology enables society to make revolutionary leaps in efficiency and impact. Just imagine our potential if we could harness the productivity and appeal of technology to give every child a physical education that instills in them a lifelong love for being physically healthy. This is why new technologies that teach habits of healthy activity are so exciting. As they start being implemented nationwide in P.E. programs, we will see the true potential of P.E. to create a generation and a nation of healthy youth.