Episode 39 – What I Wish I Could of Done At School

In this episode of The PE Geek Podcast, I explore a list of the things I wished I had the opportunity to do when I was a student. Resources explored include;

  • Hudl Technique – formerly Ubersense
  • BaM Video Delay & SloPro
  • FitBit Charge HR & Apple Watch
  • Polar H7
  • Active Globe & Zombies Run
  • Twitter

Press Play below to listen or visit the podcast page.  Alternatively download a full episode transcript here


00:29 Jarrod Robinson: Hello, everyone, and welcome to Episode 39 of the PE Geek Podcast. And as always, an absolute pleasure to be here, and I really thank you for taking the time out of your day, night, afternoon to join us. As we dive into another action-packed episode, featuring some of the stuff that I wished I could’ve done when I was at school. Now, a lot of the stuff that we’re gonna talk about today has been spoken about in other episodes and blog posts, webinars, et cetera, but I want to break down the things that I personally wish I could’ve done. And all of these things are going to be sort of referenced with stories that happened during my childhood, or during my time as a teenager, and how I wished that could’ve been enhanced through the use of various technologies. Now, as always, you can head along to the blog at thepegeek.com/39, for all of the show notes and any of the links mentioned throughout today’s episode. All right, let’s dive into it.

01:33 JR: Now when I was growing up, I was a massive fan of two sports. Now, obviously, I play lots of other sports and was really a big sport fan in general, but the two sports that I played were track and field, and more specifically, I was a 400-meter and 800-meter runner, and also, Australian rules football, and everything was sort of wrapped around those; one was a winter sport and one was a summer sport, and I also transition between the two of them. And I’m really, really interested in training for them and improving as much as I possibly could, and had lots of success with track and field, representing the state, in the Australian Championships and so on, and absolutely loved it. And to be honest, one of the really exciting things for me was, being able to actually see my own performance. Now, as a teenager, an early teenager, you can obviously imagine how powerful it is to see your performance, but in those days, it was a little bit more difficult. And I actually remember getting a video camera. And we sort of borrowed it from a family friend, and we’d taken it to one of my athletic meets.

02:50 JR: And this particular athletic meet, I was running the 400 meters, and I filmed it… Oh, I didn’t film it, obviously ’cause I was running, but it had been filmed. And I remember watching that tape, and it was a tape, and it was so difficult to get the footage and make a recording of it onto an actual VHS. But I remember watching that over and over and over, and sort of looking at it and seeing my technique. This was something that I couldn’t do really all that well, because the video camera didn’t really record a high-frame rate. So, I was seeing my footage, and I was trying to rewind it back and forth with my VHS, seeing how my start looked, and then seeing how that basically equated into my performance, and it was really motivational, and it meant that I ended up going back to training that next time, and was really inspired to try as hard as I could to improve. And even though I couldn’t really get a lot from the video, the motivational aspect was massive, and I think that definitely translates into the classrooms of today. So, that’s why I’m a big fan of video, and that’s why I love to include it in a class, because no matter what, we do like to see ourselves. Students especially like to see what they look like when they’re involved in physical activity, and for a long time it was difficult.

04:16 JR: But I wish I had to be in a situation to be able to use something like Ubersense. And we’ve spoken about Ubersense over and over, but if I had to be in that situation to be able to record my sprint start, and be able to look at it frame by frame, and measure the angle of my knee, and focus in on the start and see how I could improve because of that, I would’ve been all over it, especially if I had to be in a situation to do a side-by-side comparison to Michael Johnson, who was my absolute idol of a 400-meter runner. And I would always talk about how far I was behind him in terms of seconds and so forth. And it would’ve been magical to be able to measure side-by-side in Ubersense, or another video analysis app and be able to compare that. And I think it’s something that we can definitely look at, including into our own students’ lives now. That definitely translates, but for us, we’ve got it really easy. We can do this. We can actually have someone, a student, high performal… Just a general class student, compare themselves to an elite athlete and see how motivational that would be.

05:30 JR: On the flip side of that, I would love to have been able to use BaM Video Delay. BaM Video Delay is my ultimate app. Obviously it lets you time shift the video replay of up to 10 minutes, which means that you could do a performance and then you’ve got however long your delay is set to, to get to the iPad and review it. And I would’ve loved to have been able to do this and use it in the triple jump long jump setting, ’cause that was actually another one of the events that I participated in, when the events weren’t clashing with the 400 and 800 meters. And I could just imagine how powerful it would’ve been to sit at the side of the track, honing in on my three phases of the triple jump, and be able to review it on a 30-second delay. I would’ve got so much from that, and I’m absolutely excited that this is something that we can integrate into our students’ classes.

06:27 JR: And on the very same token, another video based app that I would’ve loved to have seen is SloPro, and just the ability to be able to slow something right down to up to 500 frames per second, and see… See what it actually looked like to do a successful long jump, or a successful stride over a 400 meter hurdle. I mean, these are things that I grew up not knowing what they’re supposed to look like, not knowing that this is the appropriate technique, besides what I would see at Olympic level, and I never got to see myself, really, in a performance. And that’s quite sad, but that’s just how technology evolves and how accessible it becomes.

07:07 JR: Now also, I actually remember at one stage, getting a pedometer inside of some sort of cereal box or something along those lines. It was a breakfast cereal and there was a pedometer inside. It was just a bit weird. But, I really didn’t know what it was, and I remember getting it and putting it on and wearing it for the next few weeks. And I was sort of fascinated with that level of data that I was able to collect from something that basically was pretty unobtrusive. I didn’t even… I would forget that I had it on. And I would be able to sort of look at it and see that I had accrued so many steps. And I think about the opportunities now, and how powerful it would have been to be able to wear something like a Fitbit Flex, or wear something like an Apple watch, and be able to accrue so much more than just the step count, but also intensity of those actions. In the example of the Fitbit Flex, you could be accruing heart rate throughout the duration of the day. These are things that I could never even have imagined when I was a high school student being able to get. But I could imagine that if I had been in that position, it would’ve been fantastic.

08:25 JR: It would’ve been a great way to learn about the things that I was learning about in high school. Because at that time, we were, we were learning about how physically active you needed to be throughout the day. And what better way to have been able to look at this than be able to measure and get real quantifiable data about my own physical activity. I just would’ve absolutely killed to be in a position to get that. And I then take that into the whole idea of being able to track your sleep through the same devices; the Jawbone devices, the Fitbit Flex, et cetera, have the ability to be worn while you sleep and then they track your cycle. I would’ve loved that. I would’ve seriously loved to be able to measure that type of data. And it probably would’ve lead to me sleeping even more and making more progress in terms of other aspects of my health, because I’m dramatically influenced by information and data that I see related to my own health.

09:25 JR: These things change how I perceive myself, and as a teenager that would’ve really influenced me so much. So I’m really excited by schools who are looking at what they can do with this particular information. I mean, our school’s been pretty fortunate to have a couple of Fitbit devices that we have rolled out to student populations, and they have basically rotated them through the class. A student wears them for a day or a week, and then they pass it on to the next student and then they use that data for some sort of personal project. But I’ve seen schools that are actually issuing some sort of health tracking device as part of the essential items of their school year. So rather than textbooks or whatever it may be for physical education, they’re actually saying that all students need to come with a Fitbit Charge or a Fitbit Flex or something else along those lines, that they can then use in really powerful ways to get the data. So that’s a second thing that I wished I could’ve had and that’s being able to have some sort of device to capture all of the amazing metrics that are making up my day as a teenager.

10:41 JR: Now the third thing I wished I could’ve been able to do was utilize some sort of heart rate monitoring system during my training. Now I briefly spoke about heart rate monitoring on devices like Fitbit Charges and so on, which is sort of to show you how you’re going throughout the day, but I would’ve loved to have a heart rate monitor for training purposes. And in particular, during 400 meter training which I used to do three times a week, it would’ve been great to be able to have that data to talk about improving my times, and how I could’ve ran to specific heart zones and so forth to activate different energy systems and train appropriately to that particular sport. Now, I eventually got to the stage where I did get my first ever heart rate monitor, and it was a chest strap heart rate monitor. I used to wear it sort of for training purposes. But at that stage, I was pretty much an adult and I wasn’t competing to the same level that I was, so it had sort of worn off my desire and my need for it, and basically been translated into something that was just about my own interests in training and in improving.

12:00 JR: So, I would have loved to have been able to have a heart rate monitor, and I would have loved to have been in a class where Polar H7 devices existed. I think about my physical education classes when I was at school, and there was nothing that we could use, or nothing that we had in the class that basically enabled us to be measured on the sort of physical activity that we were doing, at all. I mean, our teacher would have no idea, besides their own sort of observations, who was being active, who wasn’t. And I would have loved to have been in a situation to be rewarded for, and be very clearly acknowledged for the amount of enthusiasm and dedication I had to being active throughout the entire session. And by wearing something like a Polar H7, it would’ve enabled me to be able to see that, and be able to clearly identify to my teacher that I was putting in and showing as much effort as I possibly could. So, Polar H7 would be a massive part of my… If I could go back now and have today’s technology, I would love to see how I use that in my own learning.

13:08 JR: Now the final thing I wished I could have been able to be part of is this whole idea of gamification. And growing up, I was a massive video game fan. I still remember that Christmas day in sort of 19… I think ’90 or 1991, when I got my first ever video game, and at that point I didn’t know what they were. And we got the first ever Nintendo Entertainment System, my brother and I. I still remember it. We opened it up and we didn’t even know what it was. But little did we know that it would become something that we were super interested in. Mum was pretty strict on how much time we could spend on it. But it was something that we really enjoyed doing, and I think the reason being is that video games are really immersive. We felt like we were in these games that we were playing, and I would love to be in a position to have been at school with the sort of level of games that we have now, and sort of participating in something like ActiveGlobe, which is completely centred around gamification and focused at the primary school setting, or the elementary school setting, and trying to get kids active and earning badges and certificates and so forth for their physical activity.

14:22 JR: I would have dived into that like you wouldn’t believe. And I think it presents a really good opportunity for learning and for education and for physical activity, in ways that we haven’t really explored as fully as we might have liked. Conversely, something else I would’ve loved to have done is had a mobile device, like an iPhone or an iPad, to be able to play a game like Zombies, Run! , which is the game where you’ll sit in a post-apocalyptic world, put your headphones in, off you go for a run; and just running for the sake of running, which I used to do, but you are now running to save humanity, and the game basically integrates to your actual run. It makes it feel as though you are being chased by this crazy zombie infestation. So, I think that would’ve been really motivational to me, and I know that it’s definitely been motivational to students, and particularly in my own classes where this whole idea of gamification has been added, and anything that has this sort of element has been really sort of addictive to students and addictive for really good reasons. And I know for a fact that, that would have definitely worked with me.

15:39 JR: And finally, the last thing that I wish I could’ve had, or had access to, or done, or used, when I was at school, was social networks. I mean, I am a big social network fan, and obviously I love Twitter, that’s my primary source of social networks; but I also do have an interesting Facebook and I follow a number of people who I admire, Olympic athletes and so forth, and other people in different industries. And I would have done exactly that when I was a young kid. I still remember handwriting a letter to Maurice Greene following his world record runs and so forth. And I mean, I’ve never heard anything back. I didn’t… I don’t know if they even turned up at the right location, but I still remember handwriting a letter to Olympic athletes and sending them off, and not knowing whether or not they made it. And I know for a fact that had I been around today, I would’ve been able to send a tweet to some of these people, or send an email, and had possibly even in exchange with some of the athletes I was following. And I know for a fact that, that would have motivated me to train more, to try harder, and ultimately have improved.

16:55 JR: So, there’s a number of things that I really wished I could’ve done when I was at school. I think the great part about it is that, although I’m no longer a student, I’m still a learner, I still appreciate learning about these things, and I still actually actively try and improve and learn something every single day, so while I may not be in the classroom, while I may not have the opportunity to use these in that setting, I still feel that I get to do that, and I still feel that I get to actually influence people to have those experiences that, ultimately, I would have loved when I was a student. So, whenever I’m looking at introducing some sort of new tool, some sort of new opportunity, I do put myself in the students’ shoes and think, “Is this something that I would have appreciated when I was at school?” I know things are a little different now but what’s the benefit that they are going to experience through this? Is it going to engage them? Is it going to make my job easier? They’re all things that I think are pretty important. And I urge you to go and check out and think about the things that you did when you were at school, and think about what you would’ve liked to have done. Would you have liked to have used the various apps that we’ve spoken about? Would you have liked to have tried various forms of technology and challenges?

18:08 JR: You have to think, if you didn’t or you weren’t interested in those things, why would the students be now? There should be some sort of connection between what you liked back then and what they might ultimately like then. I think those teachers that are really willing to put themselves in those situations are ultimately moving in the right direction in terms of thinking about how best to serve their students.

18:38 JR: Alright. As always, you can head along to thepegeek.com/episode39, where you can get a complete episode transcript, as well as links to the various apps and resources that we’ve spoken about. See you later.



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