Even though children worldwide become less and less active each year, learning solutions that fight against this trend can be hard to come by at schools – most likely due to the fact that classic physical education continues to have a strong status.
The idea that school PE would need technology to aid it, seems unlikely to most teachers and parents. But when we think about the year 2020, and the students who were isolated and stuck in front of the computer, it doesn’t seem like such a crazy idea to add a little bit of body movement and social activity to the mix!
According to Acer for Education, EdTech can support physical education in many ways, e.g. by providing tools to help tracking the progress of students and recording performances for self-improvement purposes. EdTech can also help with setting customized goals to fit each skill level and type of person. Unfortunately some children are active only in school, so EdTech can light a spark for a more active lifestyle with engaging experiences – for example via games.
Seeking Inspiration from the Gaming World
Video games that include physical activities, such as dancing, aren’t exactly a new thing. Most are familiar with the infamous Dance Dance Revolution series from the end of the 90s that popularized the use of video games as a medium for exercising. Nowadays Nintendo has made itself known for its great selection of fitness games on the Wii and Switch consoles; the newest trendy peripheral being the Ring Fit, which mimics a pilates ring inside the games.
TechRadar comments the fitness games boom that continues to develop each year:
”In 2021, there’s a wide range of fitness games available, so it’s easier than ever to find an activity that appeals to you. If running just isn’t your thing, then you might pick up a game that lets you work up a sweat by channeling your inner dancing queen. Not into that either? Well, you could always throw a few punches in a virtual boxing class.”
Nowadays anyone can find great games to workout with - nevermind how well-equipped you are technologically! Instead of buying a high-end VR headset, you can simply download Pokemon Go or other geocaching-styled game on your mobile phone and get a good daily walk out of it.
Since many of these products are readily available and children seem to enjoy them, it beckons the question: why aren’t fitness games more often part of schools’ PE curriculum or students’ break time?
”Those Lazy Youngsters on Their Smartphones”
Children have better access to digital devices than ever, and some parents are worried that their kid becomes the stereotypical ”screen slave”.
Along with the fear of health problems that the overuse of devices and indoor learning can cause, adults often prefer that their child is taught PE in the traditional way - via classic indoor and outdoor sports.
The Guardian interviewed Paul Howard-Jones, a professor of neuroscience and education at the University of Bristol and he had this to say:
“The real issue is what’s being done on the screen. Children should be engaged, because spending hours passively sitting in front of a screen can lead to falling behind with their learning and hinder precious social networks.”
So instead of denying every technology-enhanced activity, teachers and parents alike should guide children towards quality solutions, because they are out there!
MoovKids Online Program for Physical Education
Take for example the EAF certified MoovKids: an online movement program that focuses on the physical development of children aged 3 to 8 years, and those with additional needs. The program’s curriculum supports the development of the fundamental movement skills as well as enriches the teacher's knowledge about the value of each activity.
It’s important to remember that physical education belongs to those with disabilities as well. Technological support programs, made with special education experts, can provide regular teachers the skills to tackle different needs with confidence.
On their website MoovKids states: ”In the early years a child’s brain hardwires neural connections which supports cognitive learning and motoric skills as well as coordination, mood and behavior. The physical skills come first and are the foundation for all later learning.”
DaVinci Club AR - EdTech App to Promote Holistic Wellbeing
DaVinci Club AR is an Augmented Reality game for children aged 6 to 12, that makes them move around with classmates, while learning English in a casual and fun way. The kids explore their surroundings, take pictures and answer questions about the things they find.
The app also keeps track of nutrition and fitness progress, e.g. counts weekly steps. DaVinci Club aims to support the ”3 pillars of holistic wellbeing”: physical activity, social skills and nutrition.
Seppo - Pokemon Go for Learning
Seppo’s ultimate goal is to combine game-based learning with teamwork, movement and out of classroom experiences. On their website Seppo declares to be the ”Pokemon Go for learning” by enabling teachers to move their lessons outdoors, and letting students experience the phenomenon first hand.
The content of the game is changeable; the game leader (teacher) can easily create their own lessons for the players (students), or use ready-made games from other users. For example WWF Finland has created two freely downloadable Seppo learning adventures that educate Finnish students about the nearby waterways.
Children can explore nature with the mobile app and complete tasks in new exciting ways e.g. by taking pictures or recording videos.
Find out more about Seppo's pedagogical benefits at https://educationalliancefinland.com/products/seppo-0
If you are an EdTech innovator with a phenomenal learning solution that encourages children to get up and move more, contact EAF directly to get your product reviewed and certified! Education Alliance Finland evaluates all types of learning solutions, and every product will be featured in our catalogue.