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Essay: ICT use in the PE curriculum (research proposal)

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1.0 Background and context for the investigation (100 words)

It is no doubt that we are in the most technologically advanced era of our time and digital technologies such as computers, mobile devices, digital media creation and distribution tools, video games and social networking sites are transforming how we think about schooling and learning (Collins and Halverson 2010). These new technologies have created learning opportunities that contest the traditional practices of schools and colleges (Collins and Halverson, 2010). ICT is included as one of the key skills which should saturate the curriculum and there has been a significant drive by the government to raise pupil achievement using ICT across all subject areas including Physical Education (Capel and Breckon, 2006).

While on placement, the researcher experienced first-hand (albeit anecdotally) the positive effects wearable technologies such as ‘Fit Bit’ devices can have on increasing activity levels in the work place. Implementation of a ‘FitBit Challenge’ in the workplace where colleagues participated against each other to accumulate the most steps, was a real success. Participants in the challenge recorded a significant increase in their step count per day as they were trying to compete against each other to win the competition. This experience sparked the researcher interest in assessing the impact technology can have in PE more generally.

Concern has been raised at the rate of progress and the widespread implementation of the use of technologies in school setting in the absence of evidence regarding their benefits (Durham University (2006). In this context this study will explore the current literature that has investigated the use and effectiveness of ICT in PE lessons. Additionally, this study will explore the teachers views on ICT in PE and their own use of technology in Physical Education lessons.

2.0 Project Title

An exploration of Post primary PE teachers views on their own use of technology in Physical Education lessons and on the use of ICT in PE more generally

3.0 Summary of Relevant Literature (600 word min)

CCEA the main examination board in Northern Ireland makes reference to ICT in education stating that “Using Information and Communications Technology (ICT) provides powerful tools and contexts to support meaningful learning and has the potential to transform and enrich pupils’ learning experiences and environments across the curriculum” (CCEA 2018)

In education, there has been investment in ICT to improve teaching and learning in schools and it has been initiated by many governments. For example, in United Kingdom, the government spending on educational ICT in 2008–09 in the UK was £2.5bn (Nut, 2010). In Northern Ireland the C2k project was implemented to procure the infrastructure and services necessary to use ICT in schools in Northern Ireland. C2k gives teachers and pupils access to learning resources, access to the ‘digital classroom’ and its e-learning tools (Department of Education 2018). Since 2000 the Department of Education “has invested over £632 million in providing the ICT infrastructure in our schools through the Classroom 2000 project making Northern Ireland a recognised leader in the use of ICT in education” (Department of Education 2018).

Literature outlines that there is five key themes to the uses of ICT in education. Roblyer and Edwards (2000) suggested that the important reasons for teachers to use technology in education are: (1) motivation, (2) distinctive instructional abilities, (3) higher productivity of teachers, (4) essential skills for the Information Age, and (5) support for new teaching techniques. Additionally factors that influence successful integration of ICT into education are prevalent and part of the discourse in the research world. For ICT to be integrated effectively into education, teachers’ attitudes must be positive toward the integration and teachers should be trained in using the modern technologies in the field of education (Keengwe and Onchwari 2008). Teachers need to approach the integration of ICT into technology with an open mind and for it to implemented effectively, teachers require appropriate training.

“Using technology in physical education has the potential to open up a variety of teaching and learning avenues by enhancing active experiences to help students develop the skills, attitudes, knowledge and behaviours needed for a lifetime of physical activity” (Yu, Kulinna and Lorenz, 2018).

In the Northern Ireland Curriculum (Ccea.org.uk, 2018), Thinking Skills and Personal Capabilities have been divided into five sections (i) Managing Information (ii) Thinking, Problem-Solving and Decision-Making (iii) Being Creative (iiii) Working with Others; and (iiiii) Self-Management. These key skills underpin the curriculum, along with the Cross-Curricular Skills of Communication, Using Mathematics and Using ICT. The curriculum emphasises the development of pupils’ skills and capabilities for lifelong learning and participating in society. By engaging pupils in active learning contexts across all areas of the curriculum, teachers can develop pupils’:

  1. personal and interpersonal skills;
  2. capabilities and dispositions; and
  3. ability to think both creatively and critically.

ICT or technology should be an essential part of PE lessons. In 2000 the English curriculum changed stating that: “Pupils should be given opportunities to apply and develop their ICT capability through the use of ICT tools to support their learning in all subjects.” (DfEE and QCA 1999).

CCEA (2018) state in their statutory curriculum that “All teachers have a responsibility to provide pupils with experiences of using ICT appropriate to their subject”. In the non – statutory requirements CCEA (2018) outlines ways in which ICT should be used in lessons. CCEA state ICT should be used: (i) Using heart rate monitors to monitor the intensity of working at different percentage within their heart rate target zone (ii) Using digital cameras to evaluate performance of gymnastic skills (iii) Using DVDs of professional dance works as a stimulus for exploration and design of movement (CCEA, 2018). Since the development of the curriculum technology has moved on considerably so it is reasonable to assume that teachers ought to consider using new technologies also. For example. iPads, health and exercise apps for your phone or wearable technologies such as Fitbit activity trackers.

Physical Education studies show us that technology is being implemented but the real challenge in is to use such technology in meaningful ways that enhance students’ learning (Harris, Mishra and Koehler, 2009. Video analysis is probably the most common way in which teachers are using technology in their lessons. Studies by Casey and Jones (2011) use video technology to further engage students in PE lessons. Their finding show that when students use video technology in their PE lessons they divulge in a deeper understanding of the task they are asked to perform and this highlights the potential impact that technology (such as video analysis) can have on students’ engagement in and attitudes towards physical education.

Current teachers face challenges and barriers to the integration of ICT into education. Neyland (2011) conducted a study where online learning was integrated into high schools in Sydney and one teacher described the work load as ‘alarming’. Teachers that who had a negative attitude towards the integration of ICT lacked knowledge and skills that would allow them to make “informed decisions (Bordbar, 2010). Research also discusses the access to ICT resources in schools is a necessary condition to the integration of ICT in education (Plomp, Anderson, Law, & Quale, 2009). If the teachers cannot access the ICT resources, they cannot use them.

In 2008, McCaughtry et al conducted a study in which they used pedometers to engage students in physical education. Their study revealed that when students first used the pedometers they were ‘they were very excited and motivated’. After using the pedometers for a number of months the teachers came across a number of challenges. Teachers found that the pedometers did not always read accurately, students shook the pedometers to try and increase their steps, the constant monitoring was taking up too much time and the pedometers were not durable for constant rugged use throughout the year (McCaughtry et al., 2008). From McCaughtry conducted this study in 2008 technologies have moved on significantly. Devices such as mobile phones or other ‘smart’ watches can track activity levels more accurately and teachers today may not face the same challenges with more up to date technology. More recent studies have outline more up to date ways in which technologies have been integrated into PE lessons.

According to the iTunes Preview (2017), there are more than 2,000 apps in the Apple store related to health and fitness. Yu, Kulinna and Lorenz (2018) investigated ways in which mobile apps could be used in PE lessons to enhance learning. Their investigation outlines several ways in which teachers could use apps in their lessons to enhance learning and improve participation. The investigation tells us apps could be used in lessons for: Information delivery e.g. recaching a large group of people with a texting app to send reminders, apps to give real time encouragement to students and allows teachers to track their behaviour, teachers can also create lesson plans on apps and assessment to track grades and homework’s and apps that are available for video analysis for use during class (Yu, Kulinna and Lorenz, 2018).

Other researchers have used technology as a tool to keep students engaged in Physical Education. Pharez (2016) states in her study that students “gravitate toward activities that integrate technology into their learning”. Pharez (2016) outlines a number of ways in which technologies can be used to engage students such as: iPads to film their skill performances and watch them to critique their skill levels, Wii gaming and in particular the dance exergames and heart-rate monitors to teach students how much activity their bodies require to reach the most optimum heart rate.

4.0 Project Aim

The aim of this study is to:

Examine how ICT is currently being used to support the PE curriculum and what teachers views on the benefits and challenges of its use.

4.0 Research Questions

  • What is best practice in the use of technology in PE settings?
  • Are current professionals using ICT in PE and how effective/beneficial is its use?
  • What are the barriers and challenges impacting PE teacher’s ability to use ICT in PE?
  • What is the potential for enhancing future practice in the use of ICT in PE?

6.0 Proposed Methodology (400 words minimum)

This research study will be an empirical study and will use a qualitative methods approach. Patton (2002) describes qualitative research as ‘an effort to understand situations in their uniqueness, as part of a particular context, and the interactions hat happen in that context’. Qualitative research will be useful for this research study because it is more useful when trying to understand people’s beliefs, values, feelings and motivations (Armour and MacDonald, 2012) and this study aims to capture the views of PE teachers towards the use of ICT in PE.

The research instrument that will be used in this research study is semi – structured interviews. The purpose of using an interview will be to gain a deeper understanding of the interviewees perspectives surrounding the use of ICT in PE lessons (Hastie and Hay, 2012). The reason that the interviews will be semi – structured is because the researcher will not have to ask the exact same questions in a specific order use the same wording in each interview, (Ennis and Chen 2012) and this will allow the researcher to take the interview in different directions depending on the interviewees responses (Hastie and Hay, 2012).

A purposive sample will be selected of 6-8 current Physical Education teachers. All the teachers selected will have to hold a PGCE certificate in Physical Education and working either full time or part time in a post primary setting. All the teachers will be from the greater Belfast area because of the ease of accessibility for the researcher. The teachers will be recruited by a phone call either directly to the teacher or by contacting the principal of the school then asking to speak to a teacher in the PE department then the interview will be conducted at a location agreed by both the researcher and the interviewee at a time suitable for both participants.

Before conducting the interview, the researcher will ensure that the interviewee fully understands the research study that they will be participating in and will asked to give signed consent. All data collected will be treated with the strictest of confidence, according to the principles outlined in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR; 2018). The data will be stored on a locked computer which only the researcher will have access too. The anonymity and privacy of those who participate in the research will be respected and only necessary/relevant personal information on participants will be kept and this will be held in the strictest of confidence. Anonymous codes will be used to protect the identity of participants, with all identifiable features removed. General information will be available in accordance with Freedom of Information legislation and all data will be held for 6 months after study completion in accordance with the Research Governance Steering Committee and then disposed of thereafter. Participants can withdraw from the study at any stage and when appropriate will be made aware of any recording devices that will be used.

Following transcription of all interviews, the data set will be analysed using simple thematic analysis. Simple thematic analysis is described as a method for identifying, analysing and reporting patterns or themes within data (Braun and Clarke 2006). The researcher will first transcribe the interviews after they have taken place then identify the key themes that are presented when the researcher investigates the teachers views towards the integration of ICT into Physical Education. Braun and Clarke (2006) outline 6 main steps in analysing simple thematic analysis, these steps are: –

  1. Familiarising yourself with your data
  2. Generating initial codes
  3. Searching for themes
  4. Reviewing themes
  5. Defining and naming themes
  6. Producing the report

This research project will be a very low risk project but when conducting the interviews, the researcher will ensure to abide by the health and safety rules of the school and be aware of the fire safety regulations they have in place. The researcher will also ensure to abide by the universities ethical guidelines making sure that all participants have given written consent, is aware of the study they are participating in, aware that the data will be stored and deleted after 6 months, the participant can withdraw at any time and made aware of any recording equipment that may be used.


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