Seamlessly transforming and enriching Leaving Certificate Physical Education with iPad.

Putting the power of self-assessment and performance analysis in the hands of every Loreto Secondary School Student.

Classroom-based assessments and Loreto's chosen PE curriculum (Leaving Certificate Physical Education and Junior Cycle Short Course in Physical Education) leans heavily on student lead recordings and places an emphasis on learners capturing their own progress. The challenge for the PE department was to find a solution, that not only ticked those assessment-based-boxes, but also enriched the experience of Leaving Certificate Physical Education. As Michelle Delaney (Head of PE Department) explains, "Affording students the opportunity for performance analysis, self-reflection, peer reflection and different forms of classroom-based assessment opportunities is something we had been striving for in PE for a long time".

The challenge

Seamlessly mixing practical and digital.

Classroom-based assessments and Loreto's chosen PE curriculum (Leaving Certificate Physical Education and Junior Cycle Short Course in Physical Education) leans heavily on student lead recordings and places an emphasis on learners capturing their own progress. The challenge for the PE department was to find a solution, that not only ticked those assessment-based-boxes, but also enriched the experience of Leaving Certificate Physical Education. As Michelle Delaney (Head of PE Department) explains, "Affording students the opportunity for performance analysis, self-reflection, peer reflection and different forms of classroom-based assessment opportunities is something we had been striving for in PE for a long time".

Embedding a digital device into a uniquely practical subject is a daunting prospect for most PE departments. The technology must be robust enough to match the physicality of PE, as well as being able to perform in a number of different settings. On top of this, the interaction with the devices must be so seamless, that the lessons do not inadvertently become ICT-focused.

With that in mind, Loreto trialled a range of different devices to meet the challenge. Despite the school's ongoing use of these alternative devices for education, the PE department found that these devices couldn't live up to the unique requirements of the Leaving Certificate Physical Education Curriculum. Tom Kendall explains that the students "Needed something with more advanced videography and video editing capabilities as well as access to a larger pool of health and fitness-related apps" and "Based on having spoken to other schools who went down other routes, we felt Apple was the best decision".


The solution

Seamlessly embedding technology into day-to-day PE lessons.

Loreto partnered with Compu b to deploy a x16 iPad bundle with rugged cases alongside a Jamf mobile device management system, enabling the school to customise each device into becoming a PE-specific technological powerhouse. On top of that, the school invested in an Apple TV to enable quick iPad mirroring so that the teacher can share their screen with the whole class from anywhere in the room. For Tom Kendall, acquiring the technology via a trusted education partner meant that the devices seamlessly made its way into the PE department from both a logistical and technological point of view – "Whether it's their sales team, accounting team or technical support team, I found their attention to detail and their responsiveness was better than any ICT support company that I've worked within Ireland, and I've been here for 20 years".

However, acquiring and setting up the devices is only one piece of the puzzle. Ensuring that the technology is being embedded into day-to-day teaching and learning is a completely different ball game. To counteract this potential pitfall, Compu b provided the PE staff with bespoke CPD that focused on their unique setting as well as nurturing an appetite for innovation. Michelle Delaney explains that the Apple Professional Learning Specialists were "Great at breaking things down and highlighting the key elements for us to get started", concluding that "Their experience and ability to foresee where we might run into problems was invaluable".

The power of iPadOS and its accompanying applications meant it was the best solution for Loreto. Michelle Delaney explains that the PE staff "Use the camera almost all of the time and slow-motion within iMovie along with compare and contrast apps to see where their technique might be letting them down at the start of classroom-based assessments. Another app that is brilliant on iPad is Apple Classroom. Being able to monitor what the students are doing is so important". These features and built-in capabilities are transformative when used properly.

The accomplishments

“You see the difference, they realise life is better with iPad”.

With the full solution rolled out by January 2021, LOETB noticed a positive impact within the first month. Colin Boyle commented “coursework could continue outside the classroom and teachers and tutors could still maintain a method of inclusion despite the nature of working remotely”. Teachers and tutors who previously preferred traditional teaching methods worked hard to embrace digital teaching and assessment and their accomplishments are notable “You see the difference, they realise life is better with iPad”.

The impact

Seamlessly raising standards.

All the students at Loreto Secondary School now have the chance to get hands-on with a digital device during their PE lessons. Michelle Delaney has seen the impact straight away – "The fact that students can watch their performance and identify aspects that they can improve on as well as setting personal goals, all within an open digital dialogue between the teacher and student… has just been so valuable. It is not detracting from the activities; it's really enhancing the learning".

Michelle further explains that from a teaching perspective, the PE department has found that iPad is "Simplifying teaching and opening up huge potential. Being able to share iPad screens on Apple TV means that the teachers can have a video ready to go quickly and they can share students' screens for everyone to see excellent examples or common mistakes. This birds-eye-view effect allows the teacher to be in multiple places at once and keep on top of the progressions being made in every lesson". 


The introduction of technology has made an impact in unexpected ways as well, particularly when it comes to absent teachers. Michelle Delaney explains that for PE teachers "It's inevitable that there is contact time lost every so often. Having the devices there means that each student can log in to find my instructions and voiceovers, resulting in a genuine class of activity going on even without me there. I can leave work that progresses their learning rather than just keeping them active". The cyclical nature of a good digital workflow system means that the teacher can also assess the progress captured in a lesson later or indeed if they were not physically there at the time.

With the initial challenges of classroom-based assessments easily overcome by the multi-media power of an iPad, Loreto Secondary School can now focus on expanding its technological horizons. Tom Kendall explains that the school is now "Looking at other speciality subjects where Apple has a long-standing reputation of excellence and are now piloting iPad with our art teachers". For the PE department, however, they feel they are just scratching the surface of what is possible, Michelle Delaney concludes that "As a teacher, you're constantly reflecting and refining your practice and it's a very exciting prospect to be doing that with this technology available to us".

Tom Kendall – Head of ICT at Loreto Secondary School – "I would say that the introduction of iPad solution to our school has exceeded expectations".

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