Kinesiology researcher designs new app to help people master fundamental movement skills
Playing a sport. Learning to dance. Pursuing some kind of passion that's physical, whether it's lacrosse, power lifting or running. When people are physically literate, they're also confident, competent and motivated to be physically active on a regular basis.
That's why Larry Katz, professor and director of the Sport Technology Research Laboratory in the University of Calgary's Faculty of Kinesiology, has developed a new peer-to-peer assessment tool to improve human performance, helping elementary school aged children using tablets learn fundamental movement skills.
Released this week, Move Improve – Fundamental Movement Skills is an app that's been designed to increase engagement and collaboration in users, helping students deepen their ability to learn by using video performance technology and embedded curriculum to facilitate peer-to-peer learning. It can also be used for self-assessment.
Changing the way people learn
An educational psychologist by training, Katz is always looking for ways to improve the way people learn. He's been working on the concept for Move Improve for a decade. Peer-to-peer learning, he notes, can help in any situation where there's one instructor and many participants.
"I want to fundamentally change the way that people learn," explains Katz, who designed and developed the app, working with senior physical education teacher Chris Shaw, who served as Fundamental Movement Skills content specialist. "People should be able to assess their own performance as well as help each other assess their performance, so they develop mastery."
What makes Move Improve different, Katz says, is that the app provides the structure to ensure that users can do a meaningful assessment and provide feedback effectively, reliably and accurately.
Katz worked with two Calgary elementary schools in the past year to trial the app, which has also been used by everyone from seniors to children as young as three (with the help of parents or older children). "Compared to other peer-to-peer learning opportunities, our trials indicate that students using our tool had a higher degree of on-task behaviour, their discussions lasted longer, and they had more positive comments," he says.
Katz hopes that phys-ed teachers and parents who home school will use the app, as well as any other parents who want their children to develop fundamental movement skills. Move Improve also helps adults of any age who want to enhance their own movement skills, he adds, noting that many people have never learned the proper basic movement skills that would benefit them in their daily lives.
Potential application in many different fields
Katz, who sees huge potential in his patent pending tool, thinks that Move Improve has potential applications in many different fields, from workplace safety and physiotherapy to learning how to play a sport or musical instrument. Peer-to-peer learning would be useful in any organization where there is a limited number of instructors, and people who need to learn a skill.
Commercialized by Savvy Knowledge Corporation of Calgary, Move Improve is available for download on an iPad, and will be available on Android and Windows next week.
Katz is now working on a version of the app that would allow content specialists to create their own tool by loading their own materials onto the system. "I would like to have people all over the world creating their own learning materials using our tool," he says.