Obstacles of Using Technology in Physical Education

When asked to choose a content area where there are obstacles for using technology, Physical Education seemed most obvious to me. There are several reasons for this. One is that Physical Education most of the time does not take place in a traditional classroom. Classes usually meet in a gym or on a field. In most cases there are not desks and chairs, especially in elementary and middle school. Another is how to integrate technology into P.E. What is the purpose? Why do it? Does it help in teaching Physical Ed? I believe it does.

A paper entitled, “Are we teaching the Use of Technology in Physical Education?” by LM Waugh which was presented at American Alliance of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance conference. It approaches the topic of the lack of technology use in P.E. What was most shocking was the answers to a questionnaire given to teachers. Seven out of nine participants did not use any technology in their class. Some believed it wasn’t beneficial and that it was just thrown in as another standard they had to meet. Others did not understand how to implement technology in their P.E. class.

What I believe is the main obstacle for technology in any content area is lack of teacher training. In an article entitled, “Can Teacher Technology Integration Training Alone Lead to High Levels of Technology Integration?” states that most of the time training deals more with administration and less about how to use it as part of the curriculum. The paper states that 58% of teachers still do not use technology in the classroom and that after “training” the number does not improve by much. So I believe it is not the lack of training, but the type of training. Teachers need the type of training that makes technology use both relevant and authentic to them, terms that we use when we describe using technology for student learning. If the type of training used can’t convince teachers who teach core subjects, how can it be used to convince those who teach Physical Education?

Maybe if training was geared to be more individualized. Maybe more schools should have a full-time technology coordinator who is able to show teachers how to use technology in the classroom. I worked at a school were each classroom had a  smart board, but only about half were used. Most teachers used it as another white board, or were so intimidated and lost they never used it. This included the Physical Education department. If Physical Education teachers could be shown how to implement technology into their class, they would be more apt to use it. There are great websites to give P.E. teachers inspiration such as A Hotlist on Physical Education. Unfortunately, some teachers have no idea that information such as this exists.

If more technology is to be used by teachers in all subject areas, there must be better training geared toward making it more relevant and personalized so that teachers can see the benefits and how it can apply to their classroom. Otherwise, it will be viewed as the one P.E. teacher believed, another thing they have to do. Another standard that needs covering.


Zhao, Y, & Bryant, F. (2010). Can teacher technology integration training alone lead to high levels of technology integration? a qualitative look at teachers’ technology integration after state mandated technology training. Electronic Journal for the Integration of Technology in Education,5. Retrieved from http://ejite.isu.edu/Volume5/Zhao.pdf

Waugh, L. (2010). Are we teaching the use of technology in physical education. Retrieved from http://aahperd.confex.com/aahperd/ 2009/webprogram/Paper12659. html


3 thoughts on “Obstacles of Using Technology in Physical Education

  1. Nice post about the importance of good professional learning in PE. I would argue, additionally, that one of the biggest obstacles to implementing technology in PE is getting past the quandry that “the biggest issue facing PE is childhood obesity and the lack of active lifestyles, and introducing technology into PE will only encourage less movement, and thus obesity” (they’re my quotes – I don’t think anyone else has said that exactly, but I know many PE teachers who think it!)
    Don’t get me wrong – I’m a firm believer in bringing PE into the 21st C. Check my blog, or follow the tag #pegeeks on Twitter to see what my global colleagues and I (@jonesytheteachr) talk about. But I think perception is the biggest battle we fight when talking about technology in PE. Keep up the good work. 🙂 Jonesy

  2. So true! No good having all the gear without the training and application time. Teachers need technology playtime to achieve meaningful engagement themselves and confidence to then bring that into their learning space.

  3. Melodee,

    This was a great post about technology in PE. Just as we need to make our subject matter relevant and authentic to our students, we need to make learning (on any topic, but especially technology) relevant and authentic to teachers who are learning something new.

    This problem does plague all subject areas and all grade levels, and I can tell you that when there is a technology integrator in the building, more progress gets made, but there will still be hold-outs. As teachers though, we need to stop being so fearful and “stuck in the mud” and start “thinking outside the box” to find ways that we can connect tools that students are already using to what they are doing in school.


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