iPads in Physical & Health Education

Two weeks ago I led a workshop for the PHE department focused on developing and improving our use of technology to enhance learning, specifically the use of iPads. This was actually supposed to take place in December but as I had ruptured my Achilles tendon playing Ultimate Frisbee (!) we decided to reschedule for when I was back at school.

The original reason for deciding to run this workshop was because we had purchased the iPads last academic year and had them since September, but had not got around to using them in our lessons yet. I felt that the main barrier to this was our lack of up-to-date knowledge and expertise in using the apps (I have previously used iPads in my lessons but apps develop and change so quickly, with new ones coming out all the time). We have a weekly department meeting in which I wanted to address this but each week the list of items on the agenda would grow and grow (especially as our school is preparing for a CIS visit and IB evaluation); therefore I put in a request to our Directors that the PHE department have a day off-timetable to do some in-house PD based on technology. Happily the answer was ‘yes’ and so I started planning.

The plan for the day was pretty straightforward, I wanted the us to have lots of hands-on time working on the iPads ourselves as I feel that teacher confidence and familiarity with the apps is paramount if they are to be implemented effectively. So, we started by going over the aims for the day and I gave a little context about the use of iPads  in PHE.

As McVicker (2018) states in her blog post “Incorporating technology into physical education classes produces an individually oriented experience for students … improves their confidence, and makes them more efficient and prepared for their classes. It enhances their strategies and skills as well.” She also talks about the possibility for cross-curricular connections and customized goal setting as a use of technology. In the workshop I touched upon the fact that, although we aim to implement more use of the iPads in PHE, this should only be done when purposeful and if it changes or improves an activity, rather than just replicating it. Sinelnikov (2012) highlighted in his article that “The use of the iPad was not the focal point of instruction, but rather it was used as an aid in learning” which is the aim for our department in using technology. In order to plan this effectively we discussed the SAMR model and how we can redefine, rather than substitute learning activities with the iPad apps. H.L (2017) gives an informative description of the SAMR model and each stage on the ‘spectrum’.

The main part of the workshop was exploration. Each teacher was assigned with an app and a sports activity/skill. We spent time researching and watching tutorials on the app and practiced using it. Some teachers went outside and did some filming of students performing, other stayed in the classroom to discuss the app with our Tech’ Coach. After about an hour, we came together as a group and each teacher presented to us about the app they had worked on, how it functions and what were the strengths and limitations. In the afternoon we brainstormed some ideas for which units would be best enhanced by these apps and spent time planning. I have outlined some of our thoughts and plans below.

Google Forms: we have decided to use Google Forms as a way to collect fitness test data easily and quickly. It is a requirement of the local education authority that we conduct a range of fitness tests with all students from Grade 3 – 12. We have created one simple Google Form to be filled in by students as they complete their fitness tests, this will be displayed using a QR code on posters around the PHE areas for the students to easily scan using the iPad. After all students have completed a form, we can export the data into a spreadsheet and sort it into grades/genders/scores etc. as needed.

Coach’s Eye: we found that The PE Geek tutorials about this app were a little outdated, but the app itself provides some and there are many useful videos on YouTube. We felt that this app is better suited to older students as it relates more to analysis and evaluation skills and would require a certain level of knowledge within the sport. I have already tried this out since the workshop with my Grade 10 class and it went really well. They have been taking part in a basketball season as part of a Sport Ed unit and in the lesson they had to film the lay-up technique and analyse it using the app functions. I had created a short model analysis video and demonstrated the use of the app in the classroom beforehand, which took about 20 minutes. We only have 6 iPads so the ratio of iPads to students was around 1:4 in this class. The students were fully engaged in the activity and took to using the analysis tools quickly – I was pleased with the end result of 6 good quality analysis videos. We are currently on a free trial of this app (14 days) and will have to discuss as a department whether the 240USD for the team package is worthwhile, (I think so!).

SloPro and Video Delay: I have grouped these two apps together, not because they are the same, but because we will use them for similar activities. The names are pretty self-explanatory but I’ll give a little outline of our plans anyway. I love using BAM video delay on my personal iPad and have used it in many PHE lessons such as high jump and gymnastics in the past. However, this app does carry a fee and I was happy to find an app called Video Delay which basically does the same (and is free). It’s a great tool for giving students immediate feedback about technique and you only need one iPad and a tripod, meaning the teacher is free to do other things in the class. We plan to use this in our upcoming swimming unit, we will set the delay to around 2 minutes, so the students swim past the camera, climb out of the pool and watch their form – for example the more advanced swimmers can work on this while the teacher works with smaller groups of developing swimmers. I did already try the Video Delay app in my Grade 7 dance class but found that it wasn’t suited to this context because in dance, the students want to be able to see their performance more than once, and Video Delay does not allow that. SloPro is slightly different and records a video in slow motion, therefore allowing the students to see their technique in more detail and also allowing them to record the skill if required. Again, we plan to employ this in our swimming unit to allow students to see specific aspects of their technique and it will also be applied in the Grade 6 Parkour unit for filming and analysing jumps and rolls.

Nearpod: our Tech’ Coach attended the workshop and presented this new website to us, which allows you to create interactive presentations. At first it seemed like this may not be of much use in PHE but actually we were impressed. We already use some sites such as Plickers, EdPuzzle and Quizlet as a way of assessing student knowledge and understanding in MYP – Nearpod incorporates all of those styles of interaction within one PPT and they are so easy to create! I have already created and used a Nearpod presentation in my DP Sports, Exercise and Health Science class and we have plans to use this in MYP when teaching ATL skills. Again, we are currently on a 30 day free trial but I am hopeful the school will get a membership next year.

During the workshop a few logistical issues were raised, such as WiFi connectivity at outdoor teaching spaces, logging into the iPads each lesson, connecting 6 devices simultaneously etc. We are still working through some of these issues but we have support from the Educational Technology office in school and I am excited about the progress we can make over the next few months. My closing comment is just to mention The PE Geek website/blog/podcast and Connected PE community as I find the information, resources and sharing on these platforms invaluable and inspiring.


H.L “SAMR Model: a practical guide for EdTech integration” Schoology, October 30 2017, https://www.schoology.com/blog/samr-model-practical-guide-edtech-integration Accessed on: 22/03/19

McVicker, D “How Technology Changes Physical Education Classes” g2crowd ,November 1 2018, https://learn.g2crowd.com/technology-in-physical-education Accessed on: 22/03/19

Sinelnikov, O “Using the iPad in a Sport Education season” Journal of Physical Education, Recreation and Dance,  Vol. 83, No.1, January 2012, pp. 44.

Useful Links

The PE Geek

The ConnectedPE Community


Coach’s Eye

Video Delay

Slo Pro

Use of Coach’s Eye in the workshop


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s