Ramifications of Online PE

One key principle that schools have continued to emphasize is academic integrity. In order for a student to demonstrate his or her success in an academic setting, the student must show a sense of honest and moral behavior.

To some students, academic integrity is outweighed by whether or not they pass the class. Students have a tendency to prioritize academic success over moral responsibilities and choose to cheat or lie in order to achieve their desired outcome. This type of immoral behavior is entirely the student’s responsibility and should not be directly attributed to the curriculum. However, it is not wrong to say that the methods some teachers use or the way a class functions promotes this kind of dishonesty.

An example of such class is the recently added Dedicated 2 Learning’s (D2L) physical education (PE) course. Dedicated 2 Learning (D2L) is a summer school program that offers Walnut Valley Unified School District students a variety of courses that are completed within a six-week period. The purpose of PE courses is to encourage the student body to learn the importance of physical health. Correspondingly, students continue to closely maintain their personal health. 

D2L’s new Kinesiology online class includes both Edgenuity learning modules, an educational platform, as well as physical fitness activities that are documented by a parent or a guardian. It’s designed to provide students with more insight on topics, such as muscular strength and common exercise-related physical injuries, while allowing students to customize their own training program. This overall helps students to develop a clear understanding on the importance of physical fitness. However, online PE ultimately betrays the goal of educating the student body by promoting academic dishonesty.

The issue lies within the idea that student progress is documented entirely by a parent or a guardian. Although given the fact that some will choose to accurately record and monitor their student’s progress, it’s not guaranteed that the parent or guardian will choose to submit genuine reports of their student’s work. Parents, despite their supposed moral obligations to the faculty, may prioritize their student’s success in the class and consequently submit illegitimate reports. If the parent or guardian chooses to do so, students will ultimately adopt the notion that they can remain physically inactive and still pass the class. 

Online coursework in general fails to represent a student’s success in a class. Students that have previously taken health online, for example, know that it is possible to easily cheat by using Internet resources while taking an assessment. The fact that students are given the opportunity to not try in the the class hinders the learning experience in its entirety. By breaking the moral obligation to maintain academic integrity, students ultimately lose the ability to reap the benefits of taking the course in the first place. 

D2L’s implementation of the new PE courses consequently creates a level of dishonesty among parents and students. Since authenticity and morality are not regulated by the instructor of the online course, students are given the ability to not take the course seriously. 

This type of unethical behavior is not strictly limited to online courses such as Kinesiology online. Academic dishonesty is also displayed in on-campus PE courses, depending on how strict the teacher is in regulating student exercise. When given the opportunity, students will ultimately choose to stand idly or sit down in the shade, as opposed to participating in the activities offered by the curriculum.

However, because of how these types of courses function, students that don’t participate in classroom activities are still rewarded with success. The goal should be to promote success through academic integrity, but having a curriculum that allows students to pass, even without demonstrating basic proficiency in the subject seems to defy the purpose of the classes altogether.

By Andrew Kim, News editor
Photo by Emma Lin