Tag Archives: PE

Exercise Tracking for Schools (Map my Fitness)

Exercise Tracking

I’m currently looking at ways of enabling students to log their exercise as part of a health, fitness and well being unit of work. Tracking exercise activity will enable students to monitor their progress and set regular targets. On researching such software I have come across many tools which are both web based and app based for handheld devices (i.e. iPod touch). One such app is the Map my Fitness app which is part of a family of apps including map my walk and map my run. The following is my opinion on what features of this tool may be for a school based PE programme.

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The app is available on iOS, android and blackberry as well as being web based. This means students could log activities using their own handheld devices or one’s supplied within school if students are not allowed their own devices in school. However they could also log activity using computers in or out of school. This could be beneficial if you are asking students to log all of their physical activity, both in and out of school.

Logging in to the app is a quick and simple process that can be done via email, facebook, twitter or google. Logging in via google is an excellent option for any schools who, like ours, provide students with google passwords. They will have to set up usernames and passwords, and students forgetting/losing these could become an issue! It is also worth noting that if students are using school devices they should log out of their accounts once they have completed their session.

Once logged in you are presented with a home screen which includes a record workout and log workout option (see above photo). The record workout option allows activities such as jogging or cycling to be logged via GPS. This is similar to apps such as RunKeeper. The log workout option allows you to choose from a wide range of activities from football training to a lower body weights option. This process is very simple however if you are doing an activity that is not on their list you can not add your own. The list is however substantial. The simplicity of this process makes it suitable for school use as students could log their sessions at the end of lessons, possibly as part of a cool down. If devices are not available in lessons they could make a not of their activity and log it when they get home. It may be worthwhile noting that weights activities can not be logged by reps, sets and weight lifted so if you are looking for a tool to do this, specific weight training apps such as Viaden Mobile’s Fitness HD or GAIN Fitness might be more suitable. Although many may see this as a negative in terms of tracking exercise progress, at a school level it may be positive as logging activity does not take as long, will not require one device per student and won’t require too much explanation time within limited curriculum time.

The app also has a nutrition section for logging food intake. This would be of particular interest when delivering diet and nutrition to examination level students at GCSE, BTEC or A Level. With regards to these examination subjects this app could be an excellent way of logging exercise as part of students’ coursework.

The software allows synchronisation with a variety of other tools such as nike+, FitBit, Polar and Garmin however I am yet to utilise these.

Map my Fitness also allows users to invite friends to see their progress. Adding a teacher would allow staff to monitor student progress throughout a unit of work. Combing this with a goal setting and rewards programme could provide an extremely motivational environment for students to learn how to exercise for health and fitness benefits.

On the whole the simplicity of this app makes it a very suitable tool for use within school PE programmes. The fact that activity can be logged via an app on a handheld device or the web means it could be done on a lesson by lesson basis, within PSE lessons or at home. If however you are looking for a tool that will monitor details of reps and sets in a weight training or conditioning programme this is not the tool. This, in it’s FREE form is, as it says “on the tin” an app to “Map” your exercise.

 

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What’s your REACTION with the iPod Touch?

The iPod touch has become an invaluable tool for use within Physical Education. The camera has many uses and combining it with the Sportscam app allows for detailed performance analysis. One idea I’ve recently used is to use the app to measure reaction times when delivering the topic to my Year 12 A/S PE students.

I used the app to help students learn basic definitions for reaction time, movement time & response time. I got them to film each other sprinting in reaction to a clap stimulus. By filming the clap in the background, students were then able to measure reaction time by calculating the time from onset of stimulus (hands of clap together) to the initiation of movement (student pushing against the floor). The app allows footage to be played in slow motion and frame by frame (see buttons in screenshot below).

After this I introduced a new activity where there were 4 stimulus and 4 possible responses. On various hand signals the student had to sprint in a certain direction. Reaction time was again calculated and recorded. The results revealed that increasing the number of stimulus-response alternatives increased reaction time. Reasons why were discussed and Hick’s Law introduced. Anomalies were also discussed. Most were caused by anticipation of the stimulus which is also part of the syllabus and thus further enhanced student learning.

I felt teaching the topic through practical using the technology available made it more engaging for the students whilst also allowing them to experience the topics being discussed. One drawback was the fact that the app only allows time gaps of 0.03 secs to be measured so accuracy of timing is limited, however for the purpose of introducing reaction time and explaining Hick’s law it did suffice.

Technology in Physical Education

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been presenting on our use of technology within Physical Education. I decided to use a diagram approach to my presentation then discuss each element and its use. Here’s the main slide from the presentation showing the tools we currently use within our subject.

Over the next few weeks I’ll try to post on how we currently use each tool.

It’ll be great to hear some ideas of how others are using these tools within education and also of any other tools that might be worth integrating into our programme.