ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Active Gaming in Physical Education: Embracing the Future

Lisa Hansen, PhD

Post submitted by Lisa Hansen, PhD, assistant professor at the University of South Florida (USF) in the College of Education in the School of Physical Education and Exercise Science, codirector of the USF Active Gaming Research Labs, and PE Central's Active Gaming managing editor. Connect with Hansen and share your questions and suggestions for implementing active gaming in the classroom at activegaming@pecentral.org.

What is our job as physical education teachers? What should we be doing to encourage children to engage and remain engaged in physical activity? How do we continue to learn how to motivate children to want to voluntarily be physically active ... and step away from the iPods, computers, and video games?

Research suggests that the most important element in a child's life is having fun. Studies also demonstrate that children will more likely remain engaged or continue an activity if they consider it enjoyable. If this is the case, it is our job to figure out how to make physical activity more enjoyable.

What worked 30 years ago may not be as successful with this generation. What works now may not work 5 years from now. We need to continue to educate ourselves on appropriate, modern tools that children may find enjoyable and motivating and in which they will develop a desire to voluntarily be physically active. A modern tool that is gaining in popularity in physical education programs and other health facilities is being called active gaming, or exergaming.

Active gaming combines the use of technology in the form of a game with physical activity. Children are able to engage in the technology games they enjoy, such as video games, while being physically active. Active gaming is an appropriate, modern tool that the current generation relates too and undeniable enjoys. Visit PE Central to learn more about active gaming and follow the active gaming blog.

Comments (2)

J. Finlay

February 3, 2011

I am sure that active gaming would be great for kids. And, I agree that as physical educators we have a responsibility to make activity enjoyable to promote life long healthy habits. The problem is that in most PE classes I have 35+ kids. Finding game that fulfills the technological obsessions as well as the need for physical activity for all of my students is financially impossible. I work at a school where money is not a problem, we have more equipment than any middle school I have seen. But DDR and Wii games that only accomodate 6 - 12 students range anywhere from $1,300 to $3,300. At a time when teachers jobs are being cut left and right, I cannot see justifying a $10,000 video game purchase to my principal. I am only 25 and I can remember when being active and competitive was all the fun we needed. We have become a nation of dependants. We are addicted to your technology and it is making us stupid. This is the first comment I have EVER posted online, anywhere, and probably the last. I do not have facebook, or a smart phone, and I hardly ever use the computer for anything other than reading articles and my e-mail. I think if we support the cultural idea that kids cannot enjoy life without technology, we are robbing them of their humanity. Kids need to know how to create their own fun, how to be competitive, how to have people skills. There is no way you can teach sportsmanship with a video game.

Debbie Jensen

February 10, 2013

You are only 25 but you are our only HOPE for salvaging the PE—real PE. You have supported the ideas, theories, and practices of PE that work. Period. IF we went back to the old school, traditional, fundamental PE classes which offered discipline, routine, and hard work—PE and America would stand a whole lot straighter. Thank you for being so aware of the principle of true PE.

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