Online Physical Education

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Online physical education is an acceptable source for physical education credits in 30 U.S. states, as of the 2011-2012 school year. Online PE classes are more common at the middle and high school level than they are in elementary schools. Students might take online phys ed if their schedule is full of other elective courses, if they homeschool or are enrolled in a virtual school, or if they are active in extracurricular sports.

An online physical education class might also be used as a PE elective, supplementing a PE class taken in school.

The National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) says that online PE is "neither inherently good nor bad." The organization recommends that all physical education programs include "opportunity to learn, meaningful content, appropriate instruction, and student and program assessment." If an online PE program meets these standards, it may be just as effective as a face-to-face program. Online physical education can be personalized to each student's needs, and it helps students learn how to exercise independently (a good life skill).

NASPE recommends that students who enroll in online PE "have an adequate level of knowledge and skill in both physical education and technology," and have "completed and passed a developmentally appropriate elementary and secondary physical education program." Other NASPE guidelines include:

  • Instruction should engage students mentally, physically, and socially.
  • There should be ongoing communication between the student and the teacher.
  • Physical activity plans should be developmentally and age appropriate, and progressive.
  • Course duration should reflect NASPE guidelines for quality physical education (at least 225 minutes per week).

    To assess students' physical activity and participation in an online PE class, students may submit written logs of their activity (sometimes verified by a parent's or coach's signature). They may also use monitors such as pedometers or accelerometers that track time and intensity of physical activity. One online PE provider gives students photo and video assignments so that teachers can evaluate their performance.


    National Association for Sport and Physical Education & American Heart Association. 2012 Shape of the Nation Report: Status of Physical Education in the USA. Reston, VA: American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, 2012.

    National Association for Sport and Physical Education. Initial guidelines for online physical education [Position statement]. Reston, VA: American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, 2007.

    Also Known As: online PE, online phys ed, online fitness education

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