It may seem paradoxical to integrate technologies into the teaching of physical education. However, some uses can be beneficial for both students and teachers. A new experimental laboratory, set up at Laval University, will push research further.
Inside two PEPS gymnasiums, the sports center of Laval University in Quebec, the Laboratory on the use of digital in physical education and sports (LUNEPS) is now ready to be used. Augmented games, tablets, televisions and smart phones will be added to balls, rackets and nets for teaching physical education. As a bonus, observation windows will allow researchers to follow the action and take notes.
“The objective of LUNEPS is to support research and teaching on the use of digital technology in a school and sports context. There is still little research on the impact of digital technology for students and teachers, and even less in French. In our laboratory, we will be able to make concrete and real observations in order to identify the most appropriate uses of technologies for educational purposes ”, indicates Jonathan Chevrier, assistant professor at Laval University, responsible for LUNEPS.
For example, the same lesson could be offered with and without technology in order to compare student learning, engagement and motivation. The influence of digital technology on the preparation of a course, the management time during the course, the empowerment of students are all other observations that can be made.
The professors and lecturers of the Department of Physical Education at Laval University are the first to have to adapt to the new environment. They themselves will have to use the material and integrate it into their lesson plans in initial and in-service teacher training. The aim is for all the courses to have a digital dimension. Then, it is the students of physical education teaching who will have to use it with primary and secondary students who will be accommodated in the two gymnasiums of the PEPS.
Go beyond preconceptions
“Sometimes teachers see physical education class as the last chance to disconnect from technology. We must go beyond this perception. You have to ask yourself: is it possible to offer an enriched experience to my students, what will digital bring more. For example, if the students film themselves and then observe themselves, will they be able to modify certain movements afterwards to become more effective in the practice of a sport, ”argues Professor Chevrier.
He admits it himself, digital technology can sometimes represent an “educational trick” to get students to become more involved. For example, the use of applications that calculate distance and indicate the route taken can help motivate students, who can compare themselves and challenge each other.
However, if the teacher wants the novelty effect to last over time, the interest to remain and the results to be present, he will still have to be relevant and offer motivating content to his students. “It will never be digital at all costs. It must be used wisely. "
The professor wants the LUNEPS to become the place par excellence to test the use of different technological tools in order to improve their educational potential. He is convinced that the new sporting and techno environment can become a scientific benchmark to help school educators make an adequate and thoughtful digital shift.
The LUNEPS team is already in contact with that of national service of the RÉCIT of physical education and health, as with the Quebec Federation of Physical Educators. Other partnerships are to be expected in order, in particular, to develop turnkey learning situations or to experiment with uses.