A 2014 report from the U.S. Department of Education noted that “postsecondary enrollment in distance education courses, particularly those offered online, has rapidly increased in recent years.”

So how are colleges and universities adapting to the increasingly digital world?

Getting physical with online education

University of Georgia (UGA) has brought many lecture-based courses online, but lab-based physical sciences and physical education posed a challenge to the distance-learning environment.

Here at UGA, every student is required take a physical education course to graduate; this presents a problem for students participating in distance learning, pursuing internships, or studying abroad.

In 2013, UGA Kinesiology Professor Ilse Mason developed a program that monitored students’ heart rates remotely using wearable fitness devices. This evolved into the first iteration of UGA’s virtual “Fitness for Life: Walking” course.

The course is specifically targeted at off-campus students, allowing them to successfully complete a PE course regardless of their location. Students learn about fitness-related topics such as physical-activity guidelines, goal setting, exercise programming, and nutrition. They are required to complete a personalized walking regimen and use their own heart-rate data to monitor intensity and progress.

Next page: Fine-tuning the program

About the Author:

James Castle is Lead Instructional Designer at the University of Georgia Office of Online Learning.






Chuma Atunzu is a University of Georgia student, Class of 2018.

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