On-Line 'Sportal' Tackles Failing Youth Health
<p>PE departments are not generally known for their pioneering use of ICT but Downend School in Bristol is an exception to the rule. The school is using Xoolon Sports and Fitness Academy’s software in combination with elearning experts StudyWiz to form the virtual learning environment’s Sport and Fitness module. The school has collected data on Years 7 to 11 and for the first stage of the programme is using the results in-depth with Year 7 as an intrinsic part of the sport curriculum. Senior management is firmly behind the initiative, led by headteacher Tamryn Savage who was formerly heading-up Ivybridge Community College, one of the first sports colleges in the country.</p> <p>Dave Beesley, Active for Life co-ordinator at Downend School explains, “We were seeking a technology application to support our sports faculty and became aware that StudyWiz were seeking someone to develop their software. I suggested linking StudyWiz and Xoolon Academy’s performance software so that now children can enter their height, weight and participation levels online. The two separate entities, StudyWiz and Xoolon now work together seamlessly. This enables us to develop cross-curricular links with other faculties to develop a whole school initiative. The ICT department uses the data we gather from pupils’ sporting tests for developing graphs, pie charts and databases. Maths uses the data for statistical work and food technology when considering elements such as diet, and science for links to respiratory and circulatory needs.”</p> <p>The Kingswood Partnership, where six schools in the area work together, also uses StudyWiz where the schools are linked on a virtual learning environment. Each subject places its resources such as assignments, tests, educational games and emails on StudyWiz and all the schools can access the shared resources.</p> <p>Children can add their own fitness profile to include height, weight, participation level and the sports that they play – this will extend to diet for health-related fitness programmes. The profiles are not static, pupils can add their results online on an ongoing basis and can identify where they’ve improved or which areas they which to focus on improving. This now forms a core part of the PE programme.</p> <p>The programme is also used to match its pupils’ athletic abilities to a range of sports from athletics to rugby and volleyball, to identify at which they will be naturally most proficient and is helping to identify some exceptionally gifted and talented pupils, such as a student in Year 7 whose throw is in the 96th percentile in the country. The PE department would have been unaware of how exceptional this is but for Xoolon Academy’s ability to compare individual results against country-wide results.</p> <p>The school and Kingswood Partnership are also fostering links with local clubs and teams who can approach the school for new talent as well as pupils being able to more easily approach clubs that they are interested in.</p> <p>The programme is also helping to foster links with parents who receive a log-in for StudyWiz which enables them to see their children’s results for subjects including English, Maths and Science as well as sport. They can view individual learning plans and selected homework to view improvements in pupils’ results over time.</p> <p>The PE department sees this element as particularly important for students who may not continue with sport as a GCSE. StudyWiz and Xoolon allows them to gain a permanent record of their achievements in sport including photos and videos taken during PE lessons, and to burn these onto a CD to take home or to sporting associations but of course the ongoing lessons about the importance of fitness and healthy eating can be taken with them for life <br /> <br /> <strong>Further Information: </strong></p> <p>The Xoolon Sports and Fitness Academy appeals directly to the Playstation generation of 10 – 16 year olds by being fun and easy to use, encouraging sporting competition which can be real or virtual and either school-based or purely for self-improvement. Critical to Xoolon’s appeal is that it operates fully within the technology platforms which are second nature to this age group.</p> <p>IT-savvy youths access the sophisticated Xoolometer to record their progress across a number of performance criteria, either via PC – potentially during school IT lessons – or through mobile phones. It evaluates users’ key mental and physical strengths and identifies those sports most suited to each individual. The user’s physical progress is monitored over time on key attributes identified as important for success in their chosen sport, such as speed or stamina.</p> <p>The Xoolon model works for all youngsters – beginners, gifted & talented, fit and unfit - inspiring them to greater levels of participation through the Xoolometer. As well as helping to reverse the upsurge in teen obesity partly caused by lack of exercise, Xoolon claims to deliver all of the positive personal development and social inclusion benefits which an involvement in sport brings.</p> <p>Xoolon has been developed over three years via trials in schools in Bristol and Edinburgh, is now available nationally. Already, more than 50,000 school pupils in the North West and all 24 secondary and 160 primary settings in Sheffield have access to the on-line facility.</p> <p>Individuals can register and begin using Xoolon free-of-charge, however the package is ideal for schools, where the greatest impact can be made.</p> <p>The software complements the national schools curriculum and is compatible with all school management framework systems. It supports sports and head teachers with time-saving performance assessment and reporting tools and helps to identify both highly talented performers as well as those who are under-performing. Additionally, Xoolon sits very nicely with the Virtual Learning Environments being introduced to all schools.</p>
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