Online P.E. Challenges Students and Teachers


The challenge of biking along a line on the road may seem more exciting than being online for physical education classes. However, students and teachers have adapted to the virtual model during the beginning of the 2020-21 school year.

Does online physical education have some advantages? Is it possible to make it a better experience? Online P.E. has been rough for many students, while other students don’t mind it. Though virtual P.E. is one of the many challenges schools face because COVID-19 has closed them, students and teachers can work together to make the class just as efficient as before.

During coronavirus safety restrictions, students find themselves using a computer screen to access P.E. classes that they usually take in a gym.

Online P.E. is one of the most difficult classes for some students to keep up with at home. At school, students are guided through the lesson by their teacher; but virtually, they don’t have that constant help. When students and teachers went to real-time school, students could ask for help anytime; and they could focus on their tasks more. The kids’ progress in P.E. can’t be recorded as easily online.

The physical education teachers also have trouble with online classes. It’s slower to communicate and it’s harder to keep track of students’ exercise through a computer screen. Some teachers have issues providing feedback when they can’t see the progress made in their students. Teachers have a very limited amount of activities and exercises to assign to students because not all students have the equipment needed. In real-time, teachers could keep a better eye on their students and update on how they were doing. Now, all of this is much harder, and students and teachers need to work together to figure it all out.

Nipher Middle School physical education teacher Mr. Tyler Manne says, “I think the biggest challenge for students with online P.E. is the equipment/space.” This is true because many students are limited to the activities they can do based on the materials they have, and the space they are provided. Manne continues, “Students can do a workout on their own and not feel pressured by classmates.” This is reasonable because many students don’t feel comfortable doing workouts with other kids. 

Manne has some good suggestions for making virtual P.E. the best experience possible. He says, “Go for a walk, run, bike ride, swim, hike. Also you could get onto YouTube and follow along to at-home personal fitness workout videos.” There are many ways to keep exercising at home with no equipment needed, and kids can easily get at least an hour of P.E every day.

Despite all the challenges, students and teachers can team up and try to stay creative. In the article “What School Gym Class Looks Like in Pandemic Time,”  Matt Villano says, “Since the school shutdown this spring, students have taken part in a modified physical education class with the help of a special deck of cards.” A high school in California has been using cards with different exercises on each one to motivate the kids to stay active. Not only did this school use its creativity to make online P.E. a better experience, but schools from everywhere are coming up with great ideas. Other schools are using bingo cards, scavenger hunts, and Zoom meetings to keep the students moving and engaged in their exercise. Even the toughest virtual classes, like P.E., can become much better from teamwork and determination.