Physical Education (PE) online, that’s preposterous! After all, isn’t the opposite of being online what we are trying to achieve? Technically, yes, but facing the needs of 21st century learners, new approaches to curriculum and teaching are essential.
“Personalized learning” is a term ubiquitous within 21st century instruction, but like much educational jargon, the concept can easily get passed off as the flavour of the month without being explored for its potential. The Physical Education department recognized a need for another PE option that would continue to engage students on their personal journey toward lifelong active living. Thus, Blended Physical Education 11 was created. The term “blended” refers to a combination of online and face-to-face instruction. The concept for this course was developed in concert with the school’s most recent strategic plan, where personalized learning is a guiding priority.
Simply put, we have deemed it important for students to be presented with options for courses, choice in content, and flexibility in their learning. Blended Physical Education combines these components, allowing for an individualized option where students with timetable restrictions and heavy academic schedules could complete PE outside of their regular daily schedule.
How Does Blended PE Work?
Well, it’s not just sitting at a computer. Students complete and track their weekly physical activity, which is then submitted to the teacher and followed up with individual meetings. Personalized learning is evident as students are able to complete physical activity minutes with options that engage their individual needs, interests and goals. For example, some students are working toward pursuing post-secondary athletic scholarships, whereby their focus is training for a specific sport, while other students’ objectives include a more recreational path, incorporating a variety of physical activities.
In addition, students are engaging in online discussions and personalized active living projects. The online discussions allow for continuous dialogue about various health, fitness and wellness topics. It also affords an opportunity to further examine personal values and beliefs, as they relate to active living, while fostering a connected class community. So far, students have explored personal sleeping patterns, examined eating habits, learned new fitness activities, created health and wellness Pinterest boards and websites, prepared healthy meals, and a myriad of other endeavours.
Interestingly, the fundamental concepts of personalized learning are exactly what students are enjoying about the course. Their feedback has highlighted the positive impact of personally relevant and real world experiences for their learning, health and well-being. Specifically, students identify choice in their fitness pursuits, diversity in assignments, flexibility in their schedules and individualized timelines as major contributors to their learning success.
A large part of what we hope our students gain through this course is the opportunity to experience how to incorporate and manage a healthy, active lifestyle without the structure of a traditional PE class. It is this experiential learning that we believe will allow PE to be meaningful even outside of the timetable and transfer into the skills, knowledge, and attitudes necessary to maintain a healthy, active balance into adulthood.
Blended Physical Education offers a glimpse into innovative pedagogy for educating learners in the 21st century and further expands the possibilities for students on their journey to higher learning and life.