Digital futures dictating pedagogy in undergraduate health and physical education teacher preparation

Year: 2013

Author: Wilson-Gahan, Susan

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


Abstract.Technology and the Internet have dramatically changed education. Distance education, virtual schools, E-learning, interactive video, and online courses are now prominent features of the educational landscape. Tertiary students are demanding the flexibility of web based learning in all University courses. Delivering courses online without compromising the quality of teacher training in the HPE learning area presents challenges, especially when facilitating learning in the teaching of fundamental and specialist movements, teamwork, strategies and tactics in a variety of physical activities. The challenge can be met through trialling of ideas and technologies and building on student feedback. At the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) students undertaking Bachelor of Education programs in HPE specialisations, can elect to complete all or some of their required courses through an online environment. As a result of this flexibility in enrolment and study options, courses offered in the HPE specialisations attract student enrolments from around the world as well as those in rural and remote areas of Australia. Providing meaningful pedagogy and effective education in HPE through a web based learning environment to ensure that online students have an authentic experience in learning how to teach HPE is being achieved through the use multiple modern technologies including MP3 players, video, online interactive classrooms, Skype, smart phones, Camtasia relays, digital photography, YouTube clips, online forums, blogs, Facebook, podcasts, vodcasts  and video conferencing. These commonly used technologies should not be considered the enemy of HPE teaching but rather tools to engage learners, to enhance learning and to open the way for new forms of physical activity that can be undertaken independently, at a time that suits, and in a safe environment. There is little to no research into the efficacy of completing teaching qualifications in HPE online or into best practice for online learning in HPE teaching. Several universities worldwide offer postgraduate qualifications in HPE through online learning but all assume completion of an undergraduate qualification which took place on-campus and presumably, where the trainee educators learnt how to teach a range of physical activities. Yet, the demands of student clientele are forcing universities to challenge traditional thinking and to embrace new ways of teaching and learning. In environments where university study incurs fees, students need to work to support their studies, themselves and in some cases, their families. Online learning environments enable more students the flexibility to study at a time and in a place that suits them. Many educators whose subjects have a practical element, still advocate face-to-face teaching to ensure that learning takes place and in the case of HPE, that motor movements are performed correctly and safely. The latter approach may well be out of step with the demands of current and future tertiary students.