Gadgets in the Gymnasium: Physical Educators’ Use of Digital Technologies | Les gadgets au gymnase : l’utilisation des technologies numériques par les enseignants en éducation physique


  • Daniel Robinson St. Francis Xavier University
  • Lynn Randall University of New Brunswick



physical education, phyiscal educators, pedagogy, digital technology, educational technology, technology use, technology barriers, mixed-methods research


This article highlights results from a recent study that investigated Atlantic Canadian physical educators’ adoption and implementation of various digital technologies. Employing a mixed-methods research design (survey participants, n = 206; focus group participants, n = 12), the research intended to provide a clear overview of physical educators’ implementation of digital technologies—as well as an account of the factors that may enable or limit their use. Results suggest that some digital technologies are used more (e.g., audio players, computers) than others (e.g., Dartfish, iTouch). Moreover, a number of external barriers (limitations in time, expertise, resources) and internal barriers (teacher beliefs, established pedagogy) were identified. In light of these results, a number of observations and comments are offered. Results from this research might be of particular interest to those engaged with physical education and technology implementation.

Cet article souligne les résultats d’une étude récente qui s’est penchée sur l’adoption et la mise en application de diverses technologies numériques par les moniteurs d’éducation physique du Canada atlantique. À l’aide d’un modèle de recherche faisant appel à des méthodes mixtes (participants au sondage, n = 206; participants au groupe de discussion, n = 12), l’étude entendait fournir un survol limpide de la mise en œuvre des technologies numériques par les enseignants en éducation physique, ainsi qu’un compte-rendu des facteurs qui peuvent permettre ou limiter cet usage. Les résultats suggèrent que certaines technologies numériques sont plus utilisées (p. ex. lecteurs audio et ordinateurs) que d’autres (p. ex. Dartfish, iTouch). De plus, un certain nombre d’obstacles externes (des limites relatives au temps, à l’expertise, aux ressources) et internes (croyances des enseignants, pédagogie établie) ont été repérés. À la lumière de ces résultats, nous offrons certaines observations et des commentaires. Les résultats de ces recherches peuvent être intéressants pour les personnes qui s’occupent de l’éducation physique et de la mise en application des technologies.


Baranowski, T., Buday, R., Thompson, D. I., & Baranowski, J. (2008). Playing for real: Video games and stories for health related behavior change. American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 34(1), 74-82. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2007.09.027

Casey, A., & Jones, B. (2011). Using digital technology to enhance student engagement in physical education. Asia-Pacific Journal of Health, Sport and Physical Education, 2(2), 51-66. doi:10.1080/18377122.2011.9730351

Chaput, J. P., LeBlanc, A. G., McFarlane, A., Colley, R. C., Thivel, D., Biddle, S. J. H., Maddison, R., Leatherdale, S. T., & Tremblay, M. S. (2013). Active Healthy Kids Canada’s position on active video games for children and youth. Paediactrics & Child Health, 18(10), 529-532.

Chorney, D. (2014). Technology in health and physical education. In D. B. Robinson & L. Randall (Eds.), Teaching physical education today: Canadian perspectives (pp. 259-273). Toronto, Canada: Thompson Educational Publishers.

Clapham, E. D. (2011). Supporting new PE with technology. In L. Ciccomascolo & E. Sullivan (Eds.), The dimensions of physical education and health education: An introduction to the discipline (pp. 234-242). Sudsbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett.

Clapham, E., Sullivan, E.C., & Ciccomascolo, L. E. (2015). Effects of a physical education supportive curriculum and technological devices on physical activity. The Physical Educator, 72(1), 102-116. Retrieved from

Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (CAEP). (2013). The ACEP accreditation standards. Retrieved from

Crawford, S., & Fitzpatrick, P. (2015). The use of mobile digital technology and iPod Touches in physical education. In Y. Zhang (Ed.), Handbook of mobile teaching and learning (pp. 1-9). Berlin, Germany: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-41981-2_72-1

Creswell, J. W. (2005). Educational research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research (2nd Ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

Cummiskey, M. (2011). There’s an app for that: Smartphone use in health and physical education. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 82(8), 24-29. doi:10.1080/07303084.2011.10598672

Dickey, M. D. (2005). Engaging by design: How engagement strategies in popular computer and video games can inform instructional design. Educational Technology, Research and Design, 53(2), 67-83. doi:10.1007/BF02504866

Ennis, C. D. (2013). Implications of exergaming for the physical education curriculum in the 21st century. Journal of Sport and Health Science, 2(3), 152-157. doi:10.1016/j.jshs.2013.02.004

Ertmer, P. (1999). Addressing first- and second-order barriers to change: Strategies for technology integration. Educational Technology Research and Development, 47(4), 47-61. doi:10.1007/BF02299597

Ertmer, P., & Ottenbreit-Leftwich, A. (2010). Teacher technology change: How knowledge, confidence, beliefs, and culture intersect. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 42(3), 255-284. Retrieved from

Finkenberg, M. E. (2008). Future choices, future trends in technology and kinesiology and physical education. Quest, 60(1), 434-442. doi:10.1080/00336297.2008.10483590

Fogel, V., Miltenberger, R., Graves, R., & Koehler, S. (2010). The effects of exergaming on physical activity among inactive children in a physical education classroom. Journal of Applied Behaviour Analysis, 43(4), 591-600. doi:10.1901/jaba.2010.43-591

Forrest, G. (2009). Physical education: Using iPods to enhance the teaching of games in physical education. In J. Herrington, A. Herrington, J. Mantei, I. Olney, & B. Ferry (Eds.), New technologies, new pedagogies: Mobile learning in higher education (pp. 87-98). Wollongong, Australia: University of Wollongong.

Goktas, Z. (2012). The attitudes of physical education and sport students towards information and communication technologies. TechTrends, 56(2), 22-30. doi:10.1007/s11528-012-0560-x

Green, N. (2002). Using ICT within PE—Its impact on a working department. The British Journal of Teaching Physical Education, 33(2), 25. Retrieved from

Harris, F. (2009). Visual technology in physical education using Dartfish video analysis to enhance learning: An overview of the Dartfish project in New Brunswick. Physical & Health Education Journal, 74(4), 24-25.

Hayes, E., & Silberman, L. (2007). Incorporating video games into physical education. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, 78(3), 18-24. Retrieved from

Janz, K. F. (2002). Use of heart rate monitors to assess physical activity. In G. J. Welk (Ed.), Physical activity assessments for health-related research (pp. 143-161). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Juniu, S. (2011). Pedagogical uses of technology in physical education. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 82(9), 41-49. doi:10.1080/07303084.2011.10598692

Khaddage, F. (2013). The iPad global embrace! Are we branding mobile learning? in SITE 2013:Proceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference 2013 (pp. 3234-3240). Chesapeake, VA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE).

Koehler, M. J., & Mishra, P. (2008). Introducing TPCK. In AACTE Committee on Innovation and Technology (Ed.), The handbook of technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPCK) for educators (pp. 3-29). New York, NY: American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education & Routledge.

Lloyd, R. J. (2011). Awakening movement consciousness in the physical landscapes of literacy: Leaving, reading and being moved by one’s trace. Phenomenology & Practice, 5(2), 73-95. Retrieved from

Mandigo, J. L., Thompson, L. P., Spence, J. C., Melnychuk, N., Schwartz, M., Causgrove Dunn, J., & Marshall, D. (2004). A descriptive profile of physical education teachers and related program characteristics in Alberta. The Alberta Journal of Educational Research, 50(1), 87-102.

Martin, J., McCaughtry, N., Kulina, P., Cothran, D., & Faust, R. (2008). The effectiveness of mentoring-based professional development on physical education teachers’ pedometer and computer efficacy and anxiety. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 27(1), 68-82. doi:10.1123/jtpe.27.1.68

McCaughtry, N., Oliver, K. L., Dillon, S. R., & Martin, J. J. (2008). Teachers’ perspectives on the use of pedometers as instructional technology in physical education: A cautionary tale. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 27(1), 83-99. doi:10.1123/jtpe.27.1.83

Mears, D. (2009). Podcasts and wiki’s: Delivering content information using technology. Strategies: A Journal for Physical and Sport Educators, 23(1), 29-34.

Morgan, C. F., Pangrazi, R. P., & Beighle, A. (2003). Using pedometers to promote physical activity in physical education. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation and Dance 4(7), 33-38. doi:10.1080/07303084.2003.10609235

National Association for Sport and Physical Education. (2009a). Appropriate use of instructional technology in physical education. Reston, VA: Author.

National Association for Sport and Physical Education. (2009b). National standards & guidelines for physical education teacher education. Reston, VA: Author.

National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education. (2008). Professional standards for the accreditation of schools, colleges, and departments of education. Retrieved from

Nigg, C. R. (2003). Technology’s influence on physical activity and exercise science: The present and the future. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 4(1), 57-65. doi:10.1016/S1469-0292(02)00017-1

Palao, J. M., Hastie, P. A., Guerrero Cruz, P., & Ortega, E. (2015). The impact of video technology on student performance in physical education. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 24(1), 51-63. doi:10.1080/1475939X.2013.813404

Pangrazi, R., Beighle, A., & Sidman, C. (2003). Pedometer power: 67 lessons for K-12. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Papastergiou, M. (2009). Exploring the potential of computer and video games for health and physical education: A literature review. Computers & Education, 53(3), 603-622. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2009.04.001

Partridge, J. A., King, K. M., & Bian, W. (2011). Perceptions of heart rate monitor use in high school physical education classes. Physical Educator, 68(1), 30-44. Retrieved from

Perlman, D., Forrest, G., & Pearson, P. (2012). Nintendo Wii: Opportunities to put the education back into physical education. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 37(7), 85-94. doi:10.14221/ajte.2012v37n7.6

Randall, L., Robinson, D. B., & Fletcher, T. (2014). A descriptive profile of physical education teachers and programs in Atlantic Canada. McGill Journal of Education, 49(1), 41-66. doi:10.7202/1025771ar

Robinson, D. B., & Randall, L. (2016). Smooth sailing or stormy seas? Atlantic Canadian physical educators on the state and future of physical education. Canadian Journal of Education, 39(1), 1-31. Retrieved from

Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE) America. (n.d.). Physical education teacher education: 2008 initial physical education teacher education standards. Retrieved from

Shulman, L. S. (1987). Knowledge and teaching: Foundations of the new reform. Harvard Educational Review, 57(1), 1-22. doi:10.17763/haer.57.1.j463w79r56455411

Staiano, A. E., & Calvert, S. L. (2011). Exergames for physical education courses: Physical, social, and cognitive benefits. Child Development Perspectives, 5(2), 93-98. doi:10.1111/j.1750-8606.2011.00162.x

Stidder, G., & Capel, S. (2010). Using information and communications technology to support learning and teaching in PE. In S. Capel & M. Whitehead (Eds.), Learning to teach physical education in the secondary school (pp. 183-196). London, England: Routledge.

Tearle, P. (2003). ICT implementation: What makes the difference? British Journal of Educational Technology, 34(5), 567-584. doi:10.1046/j.0007-1013.2003.00351.x

Tearle, P., & Golder, G. (2008). The use of ICT in the teaching and learning of physical education in compulsory education: How do we prepare the workforce of the future? European Journal of Teacher Education, 31(1), 55-72. doi:10.1080/02619760701845016

Thomas, A., & Stratton, G. (2006). What we are really doing with ICT in physical education: A national audit of equipment, use, teacher attitudes, support, and training. British Journal of Educational Technology, 37(4), 617-632. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8535.2006.00520.x

Weir, T., & Connor, S. (2009). The use of digital video in physical education. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 18(2), 155-171. doi:10.1080/14759390902992642

Woods, M. L., Goc Karp, G., Miao, H., & Perlman, D. (2008). Physical educators’ technology competencies and usage. Physical Educator, 65(2), 82-99. Retrieved from

Wyant, J., Jones, E., & Bulger, S. (2015). A mixed methods analysis of a single-course strategy to integrate technology into PETE. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 34(1), 131-151. doi:10.1123/jtpe.2013-0114