In this episode of The PE Geek Podcast, we interview another stellar PE Superstar, Paul Mcloughlan. Throughout the episode, Paul talks about how he got started with Tech in PE, his favourite apps and resources and various lessons he’s learned along the way. I know you’re going to enjoy this.
Resources shared during the episode include
Press Play below to listen or you can download a full episode transcript here
00:27 Jarrod Robinson: Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of the PE Geek Podcast Episode Number 35. And as always, thank you for taking the time out of your day to tune in and explore the varying things that are happening in the Phys-Ed and technology space. Now, I’m really excited to share with you an interview with a Phys-Ed rock star, in my eyes, here in Country, Victoria, Australia. And he’s someone I’ve actually met face to face a couple of times, and we converse quite a lot through Twitter, and email, and so forth, and it’s Paul McLoughlan, welcome.
00:58 Paul McLoughlan: Thanks, Jarrod, thanks for having me on.
01:00 JR: No, you’re more than welcome. And for those of you don’t know, Paul teaches whereabouts?
01:05 PM: I teach at Marian College in Ararat, so that’s about two hours northwest of Melbourne, and it’s a Catholic secondary school of about 600 students.
01:15 JR: Okay, and where did this sort of journey for you start? We’ve all got our background being trained as a Phys-Ed teacher, or something along those lines, but there’s never usually that sort of connection between technology. And I’m always intrigued of how people get into that sort of area.
01:33 PM: So, I started as a PE and science teacher, science being my second method, but mainly PE. I taught a bit of maths in Ararat. So, the tech side of things, that I’ve tried to use I guess is, has a come along as a slow process, just watching what other people, or like, following like your own PE Geek blog in the early days, and then getting on Twitter and seeing what other teachers were doing. Just sort of pinching some ideas here and there to try it myself. So, I guess Twitter ‘s been one of the main ways where I’ve got a lot of ideas for using tech in PE.
02:10 JR: Yeah, definitely. The whole social networking thing is enormous. If you’re here sitting here and listening and you’re not active in any of the social networks, there’s a lot to be said for going and finding out how you can get active, and you can get active in a number of different ways. You don’t have to be a regular tweeter to get value, would you agree?
02:29 PM: Yeah, well, I tweet pretty rarely myself. I guess I’m still in that lurking phase, or I just watch what other people say and try and put something in, myself, every now and then but its more, treating it is like a newspaper, really, just reading what other people are doing and yeah taking ideas where I see ’em.
02:50 JR: That’s really powerful, so that professional development and what you need, and just in time learning sort of thing that Twitter does. I certainly value how much the Phys-Ed community has rallied behind this method of learning and the ideas that are coming from it are quite enormous. So, there’s a number of different ways that people can get started. I had set up a Twitter journey you might like, and you can head along there to the 14daytwitterchallenge.com, and it gives you a 14 day introduction to Twitter, and that’s just one of the platforms that people are using. There’s obviously quite a variety of other spaces and apps and all sorts of things that people are diving into in the PE community, but what about you? What sort of things do you find interesting at the moment or having some success within your schools?
03:40 PM: Well, we’re using Google Apps at our school for the last couple years, so we’re trying to make best use of that as we can. That’s going pretty well. We started using Google Classroom a little bit just in the basic, basic ways.
03:55 JR: I think that’s actually a really good point about Google Classroom though, we’re using it at the moment with the more basic level, and it’s very hard, it’s really simplistic, isn’t it? We’ve spoken before about using tools that are a little bit more advanced and a little bit more feature-rich, but we’re having enormous buy-in with Google Classroom without teachers because of the simplicity of it and the fact that it integrates with Google Apps and so on. So, are you saying that you’re using the Google Classroom in PE context, like practical or is it more theoretical type stuff, or what’s the sort of angle?
04:29 PM: More so from the health classes and other, maths and so on as well, just for basics like delivering instructions in a web link, or a link to a document or whatever. Classroom offers a pretty easy way to do that. And then, occasionally, we might use the Assignment feature, which kind of makes all that sharing settings with giving your Google Doc to kids a lot easier without having to go to the next level of using Doctopus, so that works as well.
05:01 JR: And it’s sort of something that everyone can achieve, too, which is, I think, the reason behind why we’re getting such a big buy-in from our staff at our school. You mentioned some of those Google add-ons. What other sort of Google add-ons and so forth have you played around with over the last few years? You said Doctopus, is there any others?
05:20 PM: Flubaroo’s been a good one for, I think, on the occasion where you just want to give quick a multi-choice test to have Flubaroo to autograde the little tests, and then automatically send out the marks to the students, so they got an instant feedback with what they did right or not. That’s a bit of a ripper, Flubaroo.
05:42 JR: Yeah, definitely, no, it’s really powerful stuff. And it just doesn’t seem like it’s ever gonna stop in terms of the development that people are putting into these Google tools that is sort of the tip of the iceberg in many ways. And I know from developing stuff in that Google space at the moment, that it’s just an enormous library of things that we can do and it’s only gonna continue. So outside of the Google apps environment and so on, are there any sort of mobile apps or any other sort of web-based apps that you’re using with students that you find that are worth sharing?
06:14 PM: One that kids may love this year is using Kahoot! , which I hadn’t come across until, well…
06:20 JR: Do you wanna explain what that is?
06:22 PM: It’s where you can set up a basic multi-choice quiz and you have it displayed up on the projector on the front screen, and the students just go to kahoot.it, so they don’t have to sign in or anything, they just go to this website, type in a pin code and they’re in the quiz. And as the question appears on the board, they press the right answer on their iPad screen. And after every question, there’s a leader board that pops up on the screen, just showing the top five in the class, and there’s a bit of a competitive element. Yeah, so that sort of jazzes up a basic revision quiz and it sounds pretty boring, “Oh, it’s a multi-choice quiz,” but you do it with the class and they just love it.
07:05 JR: It just creates a gamified experience, doesn’t it? I mean you’ve got a leader board, you’ve got all those sort of qualities that make things engaging. Yeah, I’m definitely impressed with how people would be using that. Have you seen what people are doing with Plickers?
07:20 PM: No, I haven’t seen much about Plickers myself, but…
07:24 JR: Plickers is sort or running around the social media at the moment and all through the circles where people maybe don’t have access to one-to-one devices, or devices for every student. And it’s really quite impressive what they’ve done with the app and you can go and download it by going to thepegeek.com/plickers, that’s spelt with a P, and anyway what it does is it enables you to do sort of live-polling, like multiple choice quizzes, however people don’t use devices to respond, they simply hold up a card and that card is unique to them, and depending on the way in which they hold the card, whether it’s held up in one certain direction is basically the answer that they give. So the teacher stands at the front with their device and they literally scan the room, just by using the camera and the viewfinder, and it grades all of the students without them needing to use a device. So yeah, really quite powerful for those people that don’t have enough devices for everyone. But it sounds like you guys are rolling out an iPad program, is that right?
08:27 PM: Yeah, we’ve got iPads one-to-one now, throughout the school, so still in the early days, a couple of years in yeah.
08:35 JR: And what sort of year levels is that affecting?
08:38 PM: Seven to 12.
08:40 JR: Yeah, yeah, okay so that’s all the way through. And do they have access to another device or is it just the iPad?
08:47 PM: It’s just the iPad at junior levels, but we’re finding more and more that the senior students seem to prefer… A lot of them seem to prefer using a full laptop. So we’re kind of in the process of reviewing how that’s going and probably some changes in that space coming up, I’d say.
09:03 JR: Yeah, definitely, I mean we’ve gone down the line of doing the whole providing people… Is it two to one ratio? So we’ve got our year sevens that have access to an iPad and a laptop and they’re free to sort of choose whatever the appropriate tool is for the situation. But everywhere else in the school it’s BYOD, so people bring in… Some bring in a mobile device, some bring in a laptop. The laptop is expected but they’re sort of supplementing it with some of these mobile devices. And we’re seeing… Sorry.
09:32 PM: So I guess that’s where Google Apps is such a positive when you’re using multiple devices, if the kids are choosing their own or it doesn’t matter what device they’re on, it’s all web-based.
09:44 JR: Yeah, that’s part of the reason why we went down the Google Apps line because we saw the whole “bring your own device” trend emerging, and it was sort of apparent that we needed something that was a level playing field for everyone and an accessible on whatever device they had. And it’s really, really propelled that whole program forward, and reduced cost for the school in a whole host of areas, there’s lots of innovation coming out of people who are using Google Classrooms and Google Apps-based environments, so yeah we’re really happy with sort of where it’s progressed.
10:14 JR: Now as we sort of dive past the various tools and apps that you’ve used, are there any sort of mistakes that you’ve made along the way? Things that you look back at now and think, “I can’t believe I did that” because my career and my use of tech is riddled with things like that. I look back at some of my early blog posts and think, “Wow, was that something that I actually thought was going to really improve learning and make things easier for me?” Do you have anything like that that comes to mind?
10:43 PM: Oh yeah, there’s plenty of those, how much time have we got?
10:47 PM: Yeah, that’s a part of teaching I guess. Things always aren’t gonna go to plan and we have to cop that and move on. There’s always WiFi connection issues, or kid’s iPads aren’t charged or whatever. Or what happened recently, we had an information evening where we had the projector set up in our school gym. It worked perfectly when we tested it at 11 AM in the morning, and then when we’re presenting in front of the parents, funnily enough, the sun moved down to the west, over the west windows, and started washing out all the slides on the screen of the projector. So yeah, sometimes it’s the most basic things that can get overlooked.
11:27 JR: Yeah, without a doubt. I mean I think you make a really good point there about it’s sort of what we expect it to do, and we shouldn’t be afraid to try new things because things might go wrong. I mean that’s literally what students are doing everyday and sort of what we expect. And I think it’s great that we sort of expect the same thing and we have that same view about that. What about as we go forward? Is there anything that you have ideas for, and it would be nice if you had access to those particular pieces of equipment? Or any plans for infrastructure in a certain area or a particular app that you want to try out?
12:05 PM: Well, the bluetooth heart rate monitors look pretty cool that I’ve seen around where you can have the whole class wearing a monitor that connects to the teachers’ iPads, I think I saw that on your blog, an example of that, so I’d be pretty keen to check it out if we can get a class set of those.
12:24 JR: Yeah, the Polar H7 heart rate monitors are amazing and there’s a growing group of people that are using them as either part of the Polar Team app, which enables you to do up to 40 people tracked to one iPad, and that’s mind-blowing for teaching senior physical education. Or, people are just using them and connecting them to a single device, when we get to our training program sort of stuff with year 12 PE, they are loaning them out, individual students, and taking them and using them with their own devices. Just the fact that there’s no watch means that they’re a little bit more affordable than some of the heart rate monitors that we’d purchased previously. They’re amazing technology, definitely. Do you have heart rate monitors at your school?
13:14 PM: Yeah. We got a fair few of those, we did a big test with the year 12 class this week, had them all set up with the heart rate monitor. We had our student on the side entering their heart rates into a Google Doc every level which we had then displayed up on AirPlay onto the TV in the gym, so they could see the graph going up. Yeah. That went reasonably well, but the TV’s probably too small in the gym, probably need to get a bigger screen to make it more viable.
13:44 JR: Do you find yourself that you use some sort of large display in PE settings, practical settings, junior classes often?
13:53 PM: In the gym, like I said, we’ve got a big LCD screen but it’s probably not big enough for many uses other than a score board and that type of thing. So we’re looking at getting a short throw projector and a little cage installed, just to make a lot of those other uses a bit more functional. This week, we had a… The music department was throwing out some old, broken music stands, so we nabbed one of those to put our PE iPad on to have the video delay, that BaM Video Delay…
14:21 JR: Yup, BaM Video Delay. Yup.
14:23 PM: Yeah, we had it put in at the iPad, at the high jump today, so the kids who are running doing their jump on a 10-second delay, they’d just walk around the screen, watched themselves, and then off they go again.
14:36 JR: Yeah, it’s powerful, isn’t it?
14:38 JR: Yeah, it’d be better on the big screen, though, of course.
14:40 JR: Yeah. That’s literally probably one of the first things I ever did on the big screen that we got at our gym, and if anyone’s interested in seeing that, you can head to bigscreenpe.com where you can see a video of the screen solution that we have. But there’s some powerful stuff that can be achieved when you’ve got that ability to showcase something instantly to the class, and just the other day, I was teaching a volleyball unit with year sevens, and we had BaM Video Delay set for eight seconds, and we were watching rallies of the volleyball match, and sort of being able to stop play and direct their attention to the screen to be able to reinforce the concepts they were looking at was really powerful stuff. Video is amazing. What other sort of video-based stuff have you played around with?
15:29 PM: We had a play around with Ubersense, yeah, which, this week we’re having a throw of javelins, so to have the year eighth kids come back to class the next day and we have been comparing two students side by side to show their techniques and talk about the key points that we were trying to put into our throws. It was, yeah, pretty cool, and it’d be nice to have the students doing that themselves rather than just a one-off demo in the class the next day, but I guess that’s probably the next stage of where we might like to use it.
15:59 JR: Yeah. Definitely. And Ubersense for me has recently become my go-to choice when it comes to my video analysis apps. I still really like a lot of the video analysis apps that are out there, obviously Coach’s Eye. A big fan of it. But Ubersense, there’s a lot to be said about an app that is completely free, that enables a full set of tools and features to analyse footage, and more importantly allows you to get footage out into your own cloud-based devices without you being forced to go down their platform. And yeah, I was really pleased to see that they’re gone down a different line to what Coach’s Eye seemingly has, and hopefully the future of those sort of platforms is that they become even more student-friendly. Do you feel that they’re still really, they’re not really focused on a school perspective, they’re sort of focused still on that athlete or coach model?
16:52 PM: Yeah, I guess you’re probably right there, although free is always good. I’m always happy when it’s free. It’s a good price.
16:59 JR: Yeah, definitely. And what about the one thing that I’m really excited about at the moment as I look over and see it is wearables, and the wearable space that we occupy at the moment, with Fitbits and Jawbones and the upcoming Apple Watch and so on. I should say the released Apple Watch, because we are recording this in March, but it’s a pretty exciting time for wearable devices. Can you see any plans for maybe something like that in the future?
17:26 PM: Yeah, it’d be pretty cool to have students in class using the GPS devices and so on, I mean I use them myself outside of school, with a GPS watch when running and the Fitbit. Got the Fitbit, the Charge HR, which is good fun to keep track of that but. And it’d be great for the year 12, particularly the areas with the activity analysis, and to be able to use more of the serious GPS devices, like what you see in the AFL. That’ll be pretty cool.
17:57 JR: Yeah, definitely. So as we wrap up there, and I really want to thank you again for coming on to the podcast. Is there any other sort of things that, one app or something that we haven’t spoken about that maybe you can share with us before you disappear? Put you on the spot for that one.
18:15 PM: Yeah.
18:16 JR: There’s so many apps and you never know, one thing that you suggest here could be someone’s next go-to app.
18:24 JR: Yeah. Maybe not an app, but something I’ve been using more and more is my Bluetooth speaker in school. We’ve got a Logitech UE Boom speaker that pumps out really, really loud sound for a small speaker. So, to use it for things like the beep test, or Walmart music, or even in our CPEP units where we’ve had typically students allocated as a captain, or a coach, or a scorer, we’ve added now a DJ to that list of roles so that they…
18:54 PM: That’s so cool.
18:55 PM: They can use the PE speaker to pump out…
18:58 JR: So what was the model again?
19:01 PM: It’s a Logitech UE Boom.
19:03 JR: Okay.
19:03 PM: It’s close to 200 bucks, but it’s really good sound, good quality.
19:09 JR: Yeah, and just portable as well. So, even if you’re outside, obviously, you can take it with you.
19:12 PM: Yeah. It looks like a Coke can and it’s loud enough to use it on a school oval from the boundary line and, yeah.
19:19 JR: And be able to sort of hear it and use it. Because we’ve got this nice integrated sound system in our gym, and I know a lot of people get in touch with me and say, “What do you recommend for loud music?” and that sounds like a really good choice. The fact that it’s bluetooth and it’s portable, it’s certainly right up the PE alley.
19:37 PM: Yep, yep. For something that size, that’s the best one I could find when I was looking around for one. Yeah.
19:43 JR: And if you head along to thepegeek.com/logitech, it will redirect you to the particular store and everything where you can possibly grab one for your school. So, I want to thank you again, Paul, for coming on to the podcast and sharing what you’ve been doing related to tech and PE. I really appreciate it. And if you have any spaces where people can get in touch with you, where would be the best spot to do that?
20:08 PM: On Twitter it’s @PaulMcLoughlan.
20:10 JR: Yeah.
20:11 PM: Yeah. And, yeah, that’s probably the easiest place.
20:14 JR: Awesome. Notes and information from today’s episode will be available via the website at thepegeek.com/35 for episode 35. Again, thank you, Paul, for your time and until next time, see you later.
20:29 PM: Thanks, Jarrod. See yeah.
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