Year: 2013

Author: Gard, Michael, Enright, Eimear

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

eHealth, in a variety of forms, is now a reality. This paper proposes that the advent of eHealth is already beginning to shape school and university HPE field in meaningful ways and seeks to explore and, to some extent, predict what future impacts might look like.
I begin with a brief summary of the forms e-Health is taking and the motives, aspirations and dreams of its advocates. These range from the pragmatically medical, crudely economic to the existentially epistemological; not only will eHealth save lives and money, new arguments about the capacity for modern health technologies to transform human experience, increase self-knowledge and empower citizens are emerging. In short, yet another new “new public health” is upon us.
Second, this presentation will discuss the rise of large fitness and health data monitoring projects in American schools, particularly in the state of California. In these complex examples, the performative dimensions of neo-liberal educational reform are colliding with the war on childhood obesity to produce data sets in the name of promoting health, informing parents and motivating children.
However, it is via hand-held and other portable electronic technologies that the most obvious impact of eHealth may be visited on schools. Here, the Quantified Self movement is worthy of consideration because of the way its advocates almost uncannily rehearse long-standing aspects of the rhetoric of HPE curricula. Whether through smart phone apps or wearable computers, self-monitoring, goal-setting and the performance of personal responsibility for health are likely to become, in some ways, easier, cheaper and more ‘scientific’. Therefore, in the third part of this presentation I consider some examples of self-monitoring technology and their resonances with current public health imperatives and HPE curricula.
I conclude by avoiding glib statements to the effect that eHealth presents both dangers and opportunities for HPE; this much is self-evident. Rather, I draw on the new media theorists, particularly Rushkoff, to propose new lines of research and pedagogy that connect HPE with emerging discourses surrounding eHealth and the viability of modern Western health systems. In other words, if we assume that it is coming, what might a critical engagement with eHPE look like?