Innovation – Technology Supporting PHE (Physical and Health Education)

From Challenge to opportunity “Wireless Headphones”

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 12.32.15 798w" sizes="(max-width: 196px) 100vw, 196px" data-mce-src="">Two years ago I found myself in between “gym facilities”. The old gym was torn down and a new Sport and Community Centre was being built. All PHE classes continued in what we called “The Bubble”, a huge semi-permanent, inflatable tent located on the soccer pitches. There were no walls and often two classes were taught simultaneously. A single net divided the Bubble into different learning spaces. Instructing the students and keeping them focused was difficult; teaching using music was even more challenging for teachers and students alike.

While thinking of solutions to overcome this obstacle I suddenly remembered a documentary about a new phenomenon in clubs and discos. It showed how young adults would go to silent discos for the enjoyment of music and dancing.

IMG_1003 300w" sizes="(max-width: 166px) 100vw, 166px" data-mce-src="">After doing some research into the silent disco topic, I was quite pleased to find that one of the distributors of silent disco equipment had its business not too far from where I was located. The cost was also minimal. We ordered a set of 3 transmitters and 40 headphones for two classes. This solution worked brilliantly because the headphones were designed for moving and dancing; dance, run or jump, these headphones “support” all actions. The three transmitters can broadcast over three channels and the headphones can be switched between these channels. When students wear their headphones they are more drawn into listening and less triggered into talking, leading to a more focused learning environment.


greenwich-comedy-festival-09 300w" sizes="(max-width: 213px) 100vw, 213px" data-mce-src="">Multiple uses

I have used the silent disco equipment in multiple settings. For example:

Students receiving instruction from a screen (videos).



  • Students receiving instruction from fitness Apps.
  • Injured students, who can individually perform a workout following instruction from fitness YouTube channels.
  • Group work: when designing dances or performances four groups can use their own music without getting distracted by the music of others (three with headphones and one group just using the surround system).
  • Differentiated learning: For example students can choose their stage of running development and practise their endurance following different episodes of the National Health Service England podcast, “From couch to 5k”. The students are able to choose from three levels of difficulty. It was interesting to see how none of the students looked at other students and complained that it was unfair that some were allowed to walk/jog while others were asked to jog/run/sprint. They had autonomy over their own learning. The reach of the silent disco is about 100 metres.

Further possibilities

Currently I am looking into the possibility of combining the silent disco headphones with a microphone. Students would be able to receive more individualized instructions from me (or others) while listening to the general instructions. While they are practising their endurance I could give feedback about their running form, without having to shout across a soccer pitch, or when they are playing games I could create three channels for the different positions used in invasion games. Peer coaches could give each other instructions during a game or I could create a “help line” for the referees such as the TMO in rugby. The possibilities are endless.

Students as innovators – the use of Quadcopters in PHE

Not too long ago I tasked my 9th grade students with planning, creating, performing to produce a video clip. The task covered three different assessment criteria for MYP. Students received ample time to design their performance during class. However, I did emphasize that the recording of this production should be done outside the physical environment of the Sport and Community Centre. I wanted the students to really think about the setting of their video clip and how this could play a role in communicating their performance to their audience.

Drone-con-GoPro-660x595 300w" sizes="(max-width: 219px) 100vw, 219px" data-mce-src="">The work done by the students was creative and interesting to watch; however, one group particularly caught my attention. When looking at their video it took me a short amount of time to realize that the recording was done through the use of a quadcopter (aka a drone). The students took the concept “levels” very literally and showed their performance from different levels to their audience.

Their final product was received with such an enthusiasm that I immediately sought parental and student permission to share this work with a wider audience. I have shared it on YouTube, Twitter and other social media platforms. Sharing this globally has enabled students to receive authentic feedback from other PHE teachers from around the world. The feedback received will be collated and shared with them. The reasoning is that I want to show my students that their work matters outside the Sport and Community Centre.

The video clip has created a little unexpected wave. PE teachers requesting funding to buy quadcopters are now better able to show budget holders how this would benefit the learning of their students. When performing or playing games, a bird’s eye view gives the students a great perspective from which to view their performances more effectively, leading to improved self evaluation.

Lieke Burghout-Lemmers, International School of Düsseldorf –

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Lieke was born and raised in the Netherlands and has taught at Cairo American College,  the International School of Amsterdam, Ruamrudee International School (Thailand) and Bangkok Patana School where she was head coach of the gymnastics programme. Lieke is now teaching at the International School of Düsseldorf and is responsible for aspects of the MYP PHE programme and Sport Management. Lieke has recently gained a Masters for Athletic Administration with Endicott College in Leysin and works alongside her husband Chris; they have two young daughters.