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Module 1

Online Pedagogy and Building Digital Communities

Welcome to Module 1: The purpose of this module is to help physical educators discover new methods to teach online and learn about different tech tools that could contribute to building an online learning community with your students.  This module will have you reflecting on your own pedagogical practices and evaluating research-based pedagogical practices that have been shown to aid in creating a safe and inviting learning community, allowing you to create a tool box of ideas to find what methods will work in your own classrooms.

Online Pedagogy and
Building Digital Communities

Online pedagogy can pose some challenges for physical educators which is why this module will examine different strategies, some new, some old and perhaps some strategies are repurposed but all of which you will hopefully be able to add to your teaching toolkit.  Creating and maintaining a positive learning environment; building a learning community; giving consistent feedback in a timely manner; and using the right technology to deliver the right content are key factors in strengthening student engagement in online courses (Nafukho & Chakraborty, 2014).


This module will focus on the PHE curriculum, however, when examining the tech tools and considering how you will integrate them into your own teaching practice always be mindful of the hidden curriculum when it comes to technology.  As with any skill, technology may come naturally to some students and not so much for others.  As teachers we know our own students and what scaffolding they may need to manage and learn the new tools or software programs introduced in this module. We hope to provide you with the information and opportunities to develop your personalized pedagogical approach towards building healthy, safe, and inclusive Physical Education communities.

The Big Ideas

1- Building Blocks

Building Blocks

Teaching practices are forever evolving and coupled with the pace of technological innovations, many best teaching practices include a digital component.  Whether it's using google classroom, sharing and editing each other's work online, or working through a VR online activity, students need to become good digital citizens to learn how to communicate with their peers and develop that skill for their future careers.


Physical Educators are in a unique position to coach and teach many skills for the 21st century learners such as teamwork, creativity, innovation and problem-solving. As educators, it's our role to set the foundation of building blocks to help students become smart, conscientious, and innovators both behind the screen and in person.

Photo of 2 students holding an ipad with their faces on it - representing their student 'body' as a virtual student

Building Community

Building a classroom culture is one of the first things we do with a new class, whether it's face to face or in a virtual classroom. Creating a classroom climate built on respect, trust and communication is half classroom management, half modelling the expected behaviour and engaging your students with your teaching finesse and add a sprinkle of teaching experience.   Simply put "Get over yourself - challenge any fear of giving up control of the online space and grow to be a facilitator and let students come to the forefront" (Barber & Mann, 2022)

Below are a collection of teaching tips from Dynamic Engaging Learning Environments, W. Barber & A. Mann which is in print and will be published in the book Thriving Online: A Guide for Busy Educators.(Eds. B. Hunter, R. Kay, 2022).

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Co-design of learning space - Negotiation, Flexibility, Grab that trapeze and Fly !!

Setting class norms re social media, respectful interactions, trust and right to pass

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Don’t be afraid to disrupt status quo

Ask for help and SAY you don’t know - or reach out to help someone else

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Celebrate mistakes, enjoy the left turns, find adventure on the tangents

Encourage multiple formats for assignments and tasks

Building communities with your students also means building a community within your own teaching departments.  The sooner we can stand in front of our classes and admit mistakes the sooner we can build trust with our students which is the starting point for creating a safe place and collaborative classroom. 

Activity #1 - Article: Read and Reflect

Building a community is more than the superficial digital announcements on your school's platform where students post questions asking about their homework and assignment submissions.  It involves student engagement during class, getting to know each other, share positive and constructive criticism with each other and feel comfortable engaging in authentic discussion in breakout rooms (virtual) or in table groups (face to face).

The community you build online or in your classroom should be a safe place for your students to share their ideas and express who they are without judgment.  A community should support one another and  acknowledge individuals for their successes and help them build resilience and learn from their mistakes.  Carol Dweck (2008) refers to this as "Growth Mindset" - finding the resilience to persevere and not expect things to be easy. Growth Mindset has become one of those teaching buzz words and with good merit.


In the spirit of building an online community with all the the other educators who are taking this module, the first activity (found below) requires you to be honest and share your teaching stories, whether it's from your 1st year or 21st year of teaching.  Please read the CBC on teachers perspectives of teaching during COVID and see we are not alone in our concerns. 

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Activity #2 - Jamboard Teacher Confessions

After reading the stories from these 3 teachers we hope you can relate to them in some ways.  This next activity is meant to be fun but also informative.  A place where we can all share our experiences of teaching in a virtual classroom, or integrating technology in face-to-face classroom.  Consider what are some things you wish you had more help with and advice you would have given yourself at the beginning of your teaching career?

The purpose of this activity is to see and share your stories or success or failure with other teachers for the sole purpose of learning and building our community.  Please be mindful of your responses and practice good digital citizenship.



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Activity #3 - Watch Video and Reflect

​After participating in the Jamboard from the previous activity, you may notice certain drawbacks to engaging with one other in that manner.  Alternately, if you were one of the last ones to post an idea, you had the benefit of reading the post from the previous teachers.  This may have helped you develop a rapport with this group of people you have never met before. 


Now imagine those post-it notes happened in real time and you were able to dialog with people that are experiencing the same challenges you are facing.  This sense of community is something often forced in classrooms, because we don't typically get to choose our peers.  So the question remains, how can we authentically develop that same community and respect for one another that people develop in other online communities mentioned in the Ted Talk.  As you watch the video, please keep your students in mind as you ask yourself these questions and reflect.

Do you have personal experience with a digital community (big or small)? Or do you post or comment on other's posts or receive support, positive feedback or suggestions on things you have posted?


How might your students identify with the speaker's story?


Can you see value in creating this type of digital community for your students?


Why does the speaker use the digital community for support?


Many students have been using digital communities long before taking your class; through Facebook, snap chat, tic tok and YouTube to name a few.  They intrinsically know what behaviour 'feels' good such as receiving a positive comment, or a 'shout out' or levelling up on a gaming platform.  They also know what behaviour isn't good, as seen in the graph below 45% of U.S. teens reported 'feeling overwhelmed because of all the drama'.  In addition to this, 44% of U.S. teens 'unfollow' or 'unfriend' people with drama being the number one reason for doing so.  The data is clear, these communities are present in the daily lives of our students and if you haven't already experienced it or participated in a social community, by posting a comment or content online we suggest you do so.  Comments on another teacher's YouTube video about an activity you want to try, or maybe a recipe blog or even 'clapping' for someone that received a promotion on Linked In.  Our communities may look different from our students but they are still present, so engage with them and put yourself in your students shoes to see why these online communities can be a source of positive reassurance and support for many.

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M. Anderson & J. Jiang (2018, November 28). 2. Teens, friendships and online groups. Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech.

Armed with this information, you should have a better idea of how building your own digital community could help your students.  Exposing students to a positive online environment and helping them build their Digital Citizenship will benefit them now as well as later on in life. 

Activity #4- Padlet Community Dialog

Does building a Digital Community seen like a daunting task?  Don't know where to start?  This activity will cover these topics and more.  What better place to start experimenting with digital dialogue than right here through this course with teachers across Canada.  Building an online community with students doesn't only happen when students are 100% virtual.  It can also come into play when you're teaching face-to-face. Many schools boards are already using some type of learning management system such as Brightspace, Blackboard, Google Classroom or Microsoft Teams or in the classrooms to help keep student organized and give them access to all the course material digitally. 

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Creating a safe digital space for your students also includes these platforms, and is perhaps more important - because sometimes students can act one way in person - but another way online.  Therefore it is up to us to set up the norms and whether that means to gradually releasing the responsibility of posting on the classroom digital platform or creating smaller digital groups, either way we want to hear your strategies!  Too many teachers use these platforms as a depository of information without taking advantage of the community building opportunities embedded within each platform.

After reading the blogs below, click on the padlet button and share an idea about building a safe virtual space and how you can engage your students in a digital community. It can be an idea you are currently using or a co-worker may have recommended it, you could also build off an idea you read in one of the blogs below.  Share your comments and help build this resource of tips and tricks for yourself and teachers across Canada.

LearnWorld Blog - How to build an online learning community in 2021
Edutopia Blog - Fostering a strong community in a virtual classroom

Building Tech Savvy Students


There is an assumption that all young people are tech-savvy or that they are 'digital natives' and that just because they grew up with technology it means they all know how it works.  This can't be farther from the truth.  As with any skill, it needs to be taught, practice and re-taught if bad habits set in, which is often the case when students use computers and don't get instruction on how to organize their files or properly upload a document.  As educators we've been encouraged to use more and more technology in our classroom which can keep assignments paperless, report cards digital and field trips virtual.  But with the increased use of technology, there is a growing gap of students that are being left behind.

Answer the following questions to yourself: 


  1. Have your students ever submitted an assignment that was blank?

  2. Do you have any students that share a home computer with their parents or siblings?

  3. Do your students use the internet at the public library, instead of at home?

  4. Have you helped students locate a document named 'Untitled'?

  5. Do your students create their own typing style of typing with only 2 fingers?

If you answered "Yes" to any of these questions then you have experienced the digital gap that affects many students. This has been a growing concern as we increase our use of technology in the classrooms and in educational institutions.  We take for granted that students have used platforms such as Google Classroom or Microsoft Teams in other classrooms and so they are familiar with how to post a question, submit an assignment etc.  Regardless of whether they have used it in the past students may not be as adept at using technology as they pretend to be.

        tudents show basic computer and information handling    

competences which are occasionally put into practice in the classroom, while almost all of them are used at home; skills training comes mainly from outside school."


                                                                                                           Peña-López, Ismarel. (2010).


Not only did COVID take students out of the classrooms and force them to learn at home, but it completely eliminated the support system they had at school for troubleshooting with their devices or technology.  The home environment is probably still the primary training environment for students when it comes to learning how to use technology.  Thus if we aren't explicitly teaching it in our classrooms, someone will be doing that at home and whether that a good or bad thing, is still up for debate.  However one thing is for certain, technology is not going anywhere, so having our students develop proper tech skills is what is going to help them be successful in the future.

So how do we start shifting our pedagogy, or adapt our teaching practices to mitigate this digital gap?


Firstly, keep in mind is that even though they may have grown up with technology, that doesn’t mean they know HOW to use it, this goes for devices and for software.  Be careful of our assumptions towards students and recognize that as diverse our learners are, so are the diverse set of skills they come with into your classrooms. Some students may love technology and others may shy away from it, however, the more we familiarize them with it and shift their attitude towards technology we help them develop a growth mindset towards it, which in turn can help them develop their tech skills. 

Because of the pandemic, many kindergarten students were using computers and becoming digital citizens. They are also typing on the computer and submitting online documents, but at some point, we still need to teach them 1) proper keyboard skills and 2) organization of their documents and folders


Let this be a testament that no age is too early to talk to them about being a good digital citizen.  Althought the infographic to the right is geared for elementry students, the lessons are still the same. We should treat everyone with respect in person or online. 

7 digital etiquette tips to teach your kids.  Click on link to read more.


Technology in the classroom

Here are a few more tips to add to your tool belt to build digital citizenship in your face-to-face, hybrid or virtual classrooms.  

Prior to the first assignment, model how to submit.  You can also have them submit a 'test document' as an exit ticket

Have each student create specific folders for your class to help them stay organized in their online drive or on their computer.  

Create simple check lists when introducing a new tech.  Include the skills they need to know or have learned before leaving.  Here is a checklist from Chrombook Classroom that offers one for each grade division.

If they want to play games have them practice their typing skills with this collection of free online typing games from CommonSense Education.  Check out 'Dance Mat typing' or 'Typing Club'.

Using K-W-L Charts can also help students reflect on what they have already learned and what questions they still may have. Click on the Word icon to access a free KWL Chart

2- Online Pedagogy

Moving Your Pedagogy Online

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Technology will continue to change, sometimes at rates faster than we can keep up with.  This results in constant adaptation of your pedagogy to integrate technology appropriately.  We are educating individuals that live in a world where technology is prevalent and they are already using and learning off of.  Thus, to keep our teaching practices current and inline with the changes of society we should do the same thing. These changes don’t have to be major, but can be as simple as using a website for your course or using QR codes as a formative assessment tool.  This section will introduce these ideas and many more.

Activity: Blog Post - Read and Reflect

Pedagogical practices can change so much depending on the topic, the culture of your class and the subject you’re teaching.  As a health and physical educators, we know this too well.  Our pedagogical practices vary drastically depending on which unit we are teaching and where our 'classroom' is for that lesson.  Teaching the invasion territory outdoor units (i.e. foot ball and soccer) is much different than the net-wall units (i.e. badminton or volleyball) and different still is how we teach the healthy eating unit in a classroom.  However, what about teaching vitrually? And what about teaching Phys. Ed virtually?


This blog article describes and gives examples of 5 pedagogy strategies that could be adopted to teach health and physical education virtually or face to face. 


Blog Post

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You may already be using some of these strategies in your classrooms, or want to start exploring the possibility of merging the amazing things virtual learning has to offer with the benefits of teaching in a physical classroom.  This module will explore, inspire and challenge you to think outside of the box and old models of teaching Physical & Health Education.


Teaching Virtually

Moving your teaching practice online is not only about the content but how you teach it and how your students will interact with the tech tools and be engaged in the lesson.  Teaching virtually is different than face-to-face and it may feel like going back to the drawing board and revamping your entire teaching style.  Even though they are different, they share a lot of common core elements.


Movement Skills

Routine & Structure




​We all have concerns about whether or not students are mature enough, will they be accountable for their work or will they understand the assignment?   The answer is yes - and the real question is are they MOTIVATED to do the work?

Every student from K-12 has grown up with technology, they are engaged by it and will continue to learn, grow and work with technology into their adult lives.  As educators, it is our duty to set them up for success and teach them the 21st Century skills they need to thrive in this complex world entering into our 4th Industrial Revolution of Technology and Artificial Intelligence.

The concerns about responsibility and accountability are on every teacher's mind, and physical educators are no different.  We need to set our standards high and expect our students to rise to the occasion because we know they can!

Tech Tools and Resources

Here we have curated tech tools, apps, and other productivity tools you can use in your classroom for students and teachers because everyone needs to stay productive and organized in a digital world. Click on the word icon for the list of the below tech tools.



Fitness / Phys. Ed

Google Chrome Extensions

Just for fun



Canva is great for teachers and students alike.  Build info-graphics, presentations or any post for social media with this website.  It also allows people to work on projects together - Great for group work. Your students will love this site.

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Sweat Deck is an APP is a simple way to switch up between exercises using a visual tool.  Challenge students to try to finish the entire deck!  Use as warm up, as an agility drill or simple fitness routine.


Screen castify is a recording technology that records your computer screen and all the mouse movement or gestures you show.  Also allows you to record a voice over which is a teaching tool for tutorials or providing digital feedback.

Comic Life transforms simple media text into a work of art.  Allowing students to create a simple media text or comic strip, they can upload their own images to comic life.  Adding a unique twist to the way we look at creative writing.

Popplet is the ultimate concept map creator.  Use it individually for an assignment or as a study guide or use it with a group.  Popplet helps you connect ideas, collaborate on a project and brainstorm new ideas by sharing your popplets.


Darebee is a free website that houses tones of printable workout cards.  Ranging from superhero exercises and cross fit to full month exercises challenges and even a meditation collection.  Great resource for any fitness class! 


Nearpod is a presentation platform that allows the presentation to be viewed across any device.  The presenter has control over the slides so audience can just sit back and enjoy the presentation.

This website is made by a PE teacher who posts a bunch of resources, games and even has a few playlists on there.  There are lots of games and activities in his blogs posts.  Also or a quick and dirty tips and games he also has a twitter, tictok, and Instagram accounts. 


Edpuzzle is a unique video editing platform that allows teachers to add questions, delete sections, give voice overs, you can also view student responses and analytic of completion. Also available as a CHROME Extension.

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TOBY is a productivity tool that allows your to save your open tabs and organize them in collections.  Open TOBY to view all your tabs and restore your last session.  Simpler and more organized than bookmarking your tabs. Chrome extension link for Toby.

for Chrome

Pixton is comic creation software online , that allows students to design and create their own comic.  Paired together with any curriculum, Pixton can be a great tool in the middle of a student centered learning environment.

Primary Physical Education podcast that interviews inspiring practitioners from the primary sector.  Sharing the latest in excellent practice and favourite PE resources and discussing what makes PE & Sport such an important tool to engage and enhance learning.

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This weekly Podcast features interviews with physical education discussing topics relevant health and physical education. The goals of this podcast are to provide you with tips from leaders in the profession, challenge your thinking, and give you new ideas to try in your classes.

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