Mobile Apps to Capture and Convey Skill Acquisition and Active Learning in Physical Education Courses

Concurrent Session 9

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Online Physical Education courses at Harford Community College use a BYOM curriculum that incorporates “app smashing” to assess course objectives.  LMS, video, file sharing, and GPS apps are combined to assess skill acquisition, address academic honesty, and promote student-directed exercise progression in an untethered, active learning environment.


Debbie Ezell is the Director for Health and Physical Education at Harford Community College. Her pre-HCC professional experiences include clinical research in obesity, nutrition, and exercise at Pennington Biomedical Research Center, clinical treatment for obesity at Johns Hopkins, and workplace health promotion for Social Security Administration and Centers for Medicare/ Medicaid. Debbie has spent the last 10 years in Higher Education course instruction and online course design. She was the first on campus to pilot the usage of mobile technology for on-line and classroom usage.

Extended Abstract

In 2012, in response to overwhelming evidence suggestive of academic dishonesty, Harford Community College Physical Education online courses discontinued “self-report” assessments.   A complete overhaul of online PE course curriculum resulted in the adoption of a mobile platform to assess both active learning and academic integrity.  This was achieved through “app smashing”, i.e., the combined use of LMS, video, file sharing, and GPS apps to capture and convey exercise completion.     

GPS fitness apps that record performance data and provide real time feedback for self-regulation are uniquely suited to engage and motivate students.  Students are able to analyze aggregated data to set meaningful physical goals. From an instructional perspective, data collected during activity completion functions as grading criteria and assists with user authentication.  Native camera apps offer students a digital narrative and visual platform to convey subject matter comprehension and skill acquisition.  Repurposed LMS mobile test tools serve as a checklist to guide students through the app smash workflow.  Students are less likely to commit academic dishonesty as it is easily detected by cross-referencing app data (such as timestamps, GPS location, and user authentication).

Attendees who download the GPS and LMS apps will have the opportunity to participate in a simulation of the student app smash experience.  I will also provide handouts that outline the curriculum.

While this presentation frames app smashing in the context of physical education, concepts can be transferred across a variety of disciplines. Attendees will leave with ideas for how to combine apps to promote student engagement, document and assess movement learning and execution, and how to leverage tracking apps to address concerns about academic honesty in an online learning environment.