5 Online, Interactive, and Creative – Training Adapted Physical Activity/Education Professionals to Meet the Needs of Individuals with Disabilities

Thomas Moran, Ph.D., CAPE, is an Associate Professor of Kinesiology, Concentration in Physical & Health Education Teacher Education (PHETE). He is also the Project Director of Overcoming Barriers, and Executive Director of Center for Physical Activity & Wellness for Underserved Youth (Empowerment3.jmu.edu). Dr. Moran is the Principal Investigator of a Virginia Board of People with Disabilities (VBPD) grant ($244,091), Improving Health and Wellness through Empowerment.

Brief description of the project goals and project design

With this Grant proposal, I am proposing to turn our KIN 429/515 Special Topics in Adapted Physical Activity Course, which is currently taught as a face to face course, into an online/hybrid course. This course will be available as a professional development opportunity (Course Credit as well as CEU’s) for professionals.

Additionally, a new master’s concentration in Adapted Physical Activity (APA) /Adapted Physical Education (APE) is being proposed for Fall of 2018, and this course will be part of the curriculum. The proposed blended curriculum is anticipated to achieve the following goals:

·         Train highly qualified physical activity professionals to work with individuals with disabilities in community based physical activity settings.

·         Train highly qualified physical educators to adequately meet the needs of individuals with disabilities in physical education settings, including both formal educational settings and informal learning settings such as community fitness centers and facilities.

Facing the upcoming legislature of National Consortium of Physical Education for Individuals with Disabilities (NCPEID) and responding to the United States Government Accountability Office (GOA) 2012 report on the current status of physical education and sports opportunities for students with disabilities in K-12 public schools, this newly developed course will help professionals meet the needs of people with disabilities in his/her classes, programs, clubs or teams.

Additionally, this online course will be shared through the networks of the Wounded Warrior Project (US Department of Defense) and Association for People with Disabilities (APD) as a potential professional development and recruitment tool to let veterans and individuals with congenital and acquired disabilities know careers in Adapted Physical Activity are a meaningful profession. Not only can these individuals be role models, he or she can demonstrate their level of competency given the acquisition of content knowledge and skills.

Developing a meaningful online/hybrid course to provide professionals with disability content knowledge, physical activity content knowledge, assessment skills, instructional skills, etc. is a real challenge. The blended format of in-class activities and online components is based on the literature on blending formal and informal learning, in-class and online learning with cognitive apprenticeship, and sequence learning by action and modeling (Bird, Osman, Saggerson, & Heyes, 2005; Hebert & Landin, 1994: Kampiotis& Theodorakou, 2007; Woolley & Jarvis, 2007).

For example, Adapted Fitness, Professionals will understand and acquire the following knowledge and skills:

  1. Medical challenges and concerns for individuals with specific disabilities
  2. Understand the body’s response to exercise (physiologically, physically, mentally, emotionally, etc.)
  3. Learn specific fitness concepts and knowledge
  4. Via Observational Learning, assess participants with and without disabilities performance of various fitness exercises to identify correct form, compensated form, and potentially unsafe form
  5. Learn how to design fitness exercises to both maximize functionality as well maximize health benefits
  6. Via Observational Learning, observe an exercise or a program to analyze and determine appropriate adaptations, modifications, and instructional strategies to promote success for each individuals, regardless of ability level.

Action Steps to Complete the Innovative Teaching Project (January 2018 – Dec. 2018):

  1. Outline the modules within each special topic covered in the course
  2. Capture videos of individuals with disabilities engaged in each physical activity program.
    • Dr. Moran has access to this programming through his physical activity mentoring program for individuals with disabilities.
  3. Edit the Video Footage into usable learning clips
  4. Use his current graduate students and instructors within Overcoming Barriers to pilot test the clips as viable quality observational learning opportunities.
  5. Develop the learning activities associated with each video clip
  6. Build out each module with appropriate assessments
  7. Send each module out to a variety of in-service professionals in the area of adapted physical education and physical activity to get feedback
  8. Revise based on feedback
  9. Finalize each module
  10. Finalize Course

The proposed project adheres to the mission of James Madison University (JMU) as it plans to prepare students to be engaged and enlightened citizens who will go on to lead productive and meaningful lives. Upon completion of this course (and potentially the larger proposed degree program), these current and future professionals will have the opportunity to influence the health, well-being, and quality of life of individuals with disabilities in school and community settings. The development of this course also highlights JMU’s emphasis on inclusion, access, and diversity.