Abstract Introduction Objectives Review of Related Literature Data Collection Methods Discussion Conclusion References

Boundless Classrooms and Touchless Bodies: Teaching Physical Education Online

Lydie D. Paderanga

Dean, College of Education, Christ the King College de Maranding, Philippines, [email protected]


This qualitative study explored the PE teachers’ experiences in teaching online during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Philippines. Using the phenomenological approach, it investigated the pedagogical practices, the educational theories that guided the participants, and their reflections on teaching PE online. In order to describe the PE teachers’ pedagogical practices and perspectives regarding online teaching, the following research questions guided the study: (1) What are the daily instructional practices of the participating online PE teachers? (2) What educational theories guided these participants in teaching online? and (3) What are the reflections of the participants in teaching PE online? Data collection methods for this qualitative study included: 1) interviews with online PE teachers; 2) virtual classroom observations and field notes; and 3) text messaging and e-mail communications between the researcher and the participants. Content and thematic analyses were used to interpret the results of the study. Results showed that teachers provided demonstration classes and allowed students to be creative in submitting their outputs. They practiced differentiated instruction, challenged the creativity of students, and developed innovative ways of teaching PE online. They implicitly ascribed to Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Theory and Bandura’s Social Learning Theory. The results of this study supported the premise that college PE can be taught online and is workable during the pandemic.

Keywords: pedagogical practices, educational theories, virtual classroom, student support, challenges


A large portion of the physical education curriculum centers on socialization, shared games, and physical activities necessitating close contact. However, the coming of COVID-19 created a new educational challenge for physical educators to teach a predominantly movement-based curriculum in a distance learning format, which runs counter to the traditionally defined identity of physical education.

Several studies were conducted on online learning. Researchers have explored the effectiveness and student satisfaction in online courses (Sidman et al., 2011), success and struggles of teachers (Mercier et al., 2021), and students’ perceptions and preferences (Muthuprasad et al., 2020). However, the study of online courses should not only be in terms of effectiveness and student satisfaction but should also include the examination of the instructional practices used to attain optimal learning outcomes. Other researchers have attempted to provide an overview of online PE-related fitness courses and have suggestions for the creation, implementation, and assessment of online health and fitness courses within a secondary or post-secondary physical education curriculum, but they have not addressed physical education teaching practices for optimal online instruction Goad (2018) and Ransdell et al. (2008).

There is an overall lack of research regarding how best to design teaching PE online, the educational theories that guide the teachers, and their perspectives or reflections on teaching PE online. This study will help address the current shortage of research in this area and provide value in teaching PE online. It will contribute to the body of knowledge on teaching tertiary PE online and set the stage for further research in teaching online physical education by identifying teachers’ teaching practices, guiding philosophy, and reflections on teaching online.


Given the lack of research regarding teaching PE online, this study explored the pedagogical practices of PE teachers. It also determined the educational theories that guided them in teaching online. Another purpose of the study was to probe into the reflections of the PE teachers with regard to their instructional practices on online teaching.

This study contributes to the literature on teaching tertiary physical education. It assists current and future online PE teachers in understanding what teachers think about online teaching. Ultimately, understanding how teachers engage in online teaching during this time of the pandemic can serve as a reference for the future promotion of e-learning.

A close look at the daily instructional practices and the perspectives of PE teachers about virtual PE may be helpful in providing insight into how an online PE class works, and how an online PE teacher can facilitate student learning virtually. With the current emphasis on social distancing without sacrificing students’ acquisition of knowledge, skills, and attitudes specifically in PE, the teacher is considered a key facilitator for online courses (Foye & Grenier, 2021). Online teachers must have technological skills in addition to traditional teaching skills to help students move through the content virtually.

Review of Related Literature

Martin Heidegger’s Phenomenology provided guidance for this qualitative research seeking to explicate the lived experiences of teachers teaching PE online. As cited by Kelly et al. (2016), “Heidegger’s key phenomenological tenets such as lived experiences, everyday ordinariness, Dasein, being in the world, being with, encounters with entities, temporality, and the care structure can serve to expose the meaning of everyday ordinary human existence as part of conducting interpretive phenomenological research”. In this study, these tenets paralleled with the participants’ experiences in teaching online, their daily activities, their encounter with the pandemic leading them to teach online, the temporariness of online teaching, and the student support given to students as part of their care structure.

Several studies examined the impact of online learning and presented interesting findings. Varea and Gonzalez-Calvo (2020) investigated how PE practices became touchless and bodies were absent because of COVID-19. Their study focused on a group of pre-service PE teachers who were forced to switch to online teaching during their PE practicum experience. Results indicated that the pre-service teachers experienced a mix of emotions during this time due to missed physical contact with students and believed PE was losing its identity because of the pandemic. Conclusions suggested a shift in the way classes were assembled and the possibility that pre-service teachers were missing out on an important aspect of their practicum experiences because of the lack of direct contact with students.

In the Philippine setting, Francisco and Barcelona (2020) investigated the role of Eliademy as a web-based classroom in designing an alternative learning tool in times or emergencies. They utilized a qualitative interview among selected graduate school students of La Consolacion University in the Philippines during the academic year 2018-2019. The results revealed that students strongly agreed that Eliademy can be used as an alternative tool for teaching and learning. Their study also revealed that Eliademy is accessible and can promote time management and promptness, however, it can be a challenge for users as it requires strong internet connection and is time pressured. They concluded that in times of calamities, Eliademy may be considered as an alternative approach to teaching so as not to compromise classes.

Other studies focused on the status of online physical education (OLPE), as what Daum and Buschner (2012) did in the United States through a survey among high school online physical education teachers. Results of their study indicated that the majority of the online PE teachers focused on a fitness curriculum with an emphasis on the cognitive domain. Teachers expressed support, hesitation, and even opposition toward online physical education.

The status of online teaching was further refined by other researchers such as D’Agostino et al. (2021) who conducted a survey among PE teachers in the US starting from preschool to 12th grade. The study aimed to determine the physical education teachers’ perceived significance of different design features for an online teaching tool to promote physical activity and equity during school closures. Results showed that although online resources are already available for educators, they are not sufficient to meet current physical education teacher needs. Unlike Daum and Buschner (2012), who investigated the status of OLPE in the United States, D’ Agostino and associates (2021) explored the perceived significance of online teaching tools.

Muthuprasad et al. (2021) focused on understanding Agriculture students’ perception and preference towards online learning through an online survey. Students’ preferences for various attributes of online classes were assumed helpful to design effective online learning environment. The results indicated that majority of the respondents were ready to opt for online classes to manage the curriculum during the pandemic. The study indicated that flexibility and convenience of online classes made it an attractive option, whereas broadband connectivity issues in rural areas made it a challenge for students to make use of online learning.

Like Muthuprasad et al. (2021), Elshami et al., (2021) conducted a study aimed to identify factors affecting student and faculty satisfaction with online learning during the new normal. Results indicated a higher overall satisfaction among students compared to the faculty. The highest areas of satisfaction for students were communication and flexibility, whereas a great majority of the faculty were satisfied with students’ enthusiasm for online learning. Technical problems led to reduced student satisfaction, while the faculty were hampered by the higher workload and the required time to prepare the teaching and assessment materials. Study load and workload, enhancing engagement, and technical issues (SWEET) were the themes that emerged from the thematic analysis as affecting student and faculty satisfaction.

A similar study of Barrot et al. (2021) delved into the challenges and coping strategies of students using online learning in the Philippines. Employing a mixed-method approach, their findings revealed that online challenges of students varied in terms of type and extent. Their greatest challenge was linked to their learning environment at home, while their least challenge was technological literacy and competency. The strategies employed by students were resource management and utilization, help-seeking, technical aptitude enhancement, time management, and learning environment control. The study offered implications for classroom practice and policymaking among others.

To investigate the relationship between student academic performance and online learning, Darkwa and Antwi (2021) compared classroom learning effectiveness during pandemic and pre-pandemic at the University of Cape Coast. The performance of students in both teaching and learning modes was also compared. Course content, pedagogical approaches, interactivity and assessment, feedback and evaluation were used as indicators for effectiveness. The results showed that classroom learning was more effective than online learning. In addition, the students exhibited good academic performance in classroom learning than online learning, although the difference was not statistically significant.

Nepangue et al. (2022) sought to describe the lived experiences of physical education teachers in quaranteaching utilizing Hussler’s phenomenological qualitative research design. Seven (7) PE teachers from two universities participated in the study. Results revealed that though the PE teachers experienced difficulties, they learned to innovate in handling the course. They recommended that tertiary PE teachers undergo pedagogical and technological training in the utilization of different learning platforms.

Analysis of data showed that teachers provided individualized instruction, offered students choices, facilitated student success, and implicitly subscribed to constructivist educational theories and practices. Results of the study supported the premise that teaching PE online was a viable option for high school PE for some teachers in the U.S. and Canada.

The literature has highlighted different studies` on online teaching concerning impact, status, perceived significance, students’ preferences, challenges and coping strategies of students, student and faculty satisfaction and relationship between online learning and academic performance which provided the basic framework to understand online education. However, only a few research have attempted to address how online learning works.

The study of online courses should not only be in terms of effectiveness, satisfaction, and impact, but should also include an examination of pedagogical practices used to attain optimal learning outcomes. The researcher tried to fill this gap in this study, drawing insights from the literature in conceptualizing the problems focusing on the PE teachers’ pedagogical practices, their guiding philosophies, and their reflections on teaching PE online.

Data Collection Methods

The data collection methods used in this study included ethical standards and confidentiality, description of the respondents, and data gathering procedures.

Ethical Standards and Confidentiality

The data gathering procedure started with an initial invitation letter asking for their willingness to participate in the study. The rationale was explained as capsulized in this statement, “I am a strong advocate of the use of ICT in education and instruction, and I am curious how this technology is applied in the field of physical education especially in MSU-IIT where I came from.” Those who were willing were asked to attend the orientation which discussed the data that the researcher will ask from them. The assurance that personal confidential information shall be observed, and pseudonyms shall be used to hide their identity were also mentioned. Together with the invitation letter was an informed consent form for them to sign to indicate their willingness to participate.

During the orientation, the study procedure was explained to them which included the interview sessions, where they were asked to discuss their daily instructional practices, the educational theories that guided them in online teaching, their reflections on online teaching, and their strategies in supporting student learning. They were also asked to allow the researcher to observe their virtual classrooms two times for the duration of the study to allow her to view their teaching practices and subject delivery.


A total of eight (8) experienced online tertiary PE teachers from MSU-Iligan Institute of Technology served as participants for this study. Pseudonyms have been used to protect their identity. In selecting the participants, a purposive criterion sampling method was employed. As Creswell (2007) postulates, phenomenological studies are concerned with what all participants have in common as they experience a phenomenon. The PE teachers met the following criteria: a) hold a current, valid teaching certificate; b) be certified to teach physical education; c) have a minimum of two years of experience in online learning; and e) receive two or more years successful teacher evaluations while teaching online.

Jeff. In addition to meeting all the requirements as mentioned above, Jeff holds a Master of Science in Physical Education degree. He specializes in Dance and Sports. At 26 years old, he already has seven (7) years of teaching experience.

Jun-jun. Junjun is 29 years old and holds a master’s degree in Physical Education and is highly involved in research activities. He specializes in Dance, Sports, and Health Education. He has been teaching Physical Education for four (4) years.

Larry. Larry holds a Master of Science in Physical Education degree and is heavily involved in extra-curricular activities such as fitness coaching, dance coaching, and sports coaching with fitness and dance as his specializations. He is 35 years old and has eight (8) years of teaching experience.

Cindy. At 44 years old, Cindy holds a degree of Doctor of Education major in Physical Education and has taught both at the undergraduate and master’s program in her school. She has taught for twenty (20) years and is presently the chairman of the PE department.

Katrina. At 22 years old, Katrina is the youngest among the participants. She finished an undergraduate course in Bachelor of Secondary Education major in Music, Arts, Physical Education, and Health (MAPEH). She is still finishing a master’s degree in PE and has taught for two (2) years making her have the least number of years teaching. She specializes in Dance and Sports.

Kenneth. At 25 years old, Kenneth already holds a Master of Science in Physical Education degree. He specializes in Dance and Sports and has been teaching for four years.

Lyn. Lyn graduated from a sports program in high school and became a varsity player for volleyball in college. At 24 years old, Lyn holds a Master of Science in Physical Education degree. She specializes in Sports, Health Education, and Dance and has been teaching PE for four (4) years.

Becky. At 64 years old, Becky is the oldest among the participants and had the longest experience in teaching PE which is thirty-seven (37) years. She holds a doctoral degree in Education. Unlike the other participants, Becky had already finished a different bachelor’s degree, a non-PE course, and already held a non-teaching position when she decided to pursue a teaching career in PE. She became an Assistant Dean of the College of Education and held several positions as Department Chairman, Graduate School Coordinator, and Assistant Director for Extension. She is highly involved in linkages and occupies key positions in professional organizations.

Data Gathering Procedure

Data collection methods for this qualitative study included: 1) interviews with online PE teachers; 2) virtual classroom observations and field notes; and 3) text messages and e-mail communications between the researcher and the participants. The interviews, which approximately lasted forty minutes were semi-structured to provide a framework and to get specific answers to the research questions. Questions were open-ended to provide room for flexibility (Qu & Dumay, 2011). Within a semi-structured format, the questions did not have to be asked exactly in order. Probing questions and statements followed participants’ responses when necessary for clarification and expansion. The interviews took place either in person at the participant’s workplace or through SMS or Facebook messenger. Interviews were recorded upon the consent of the participant to check the accuracy of the transcription. A group chat was created among the respondents, researcher, and research aides for easy communication.

Any questions that may not have been asked during the interview sessions due to time constraints were addressed through the more informal setting of email or group chat or even with text messages or SMS. Each interview was transcribed immediately upon completion for fresh recall of the participants’ answers, and transcription was done manually. This transcription was then sent to the participant for verification and to solicit their agreement on what was written. Participants were given the freedom to edit the transcriptions. In addition to interviews, the participants’ online classroom was visited. This phase of data gathering noted the course syllabus, teacher-developed resource materials such as PowerPoints and videos, assignments, submitted student outputs, and suggested links/references to students.


Content and thematic analyses were used to interpret the results of the study. Common themes were identified as they emerged. These included: (1) daily pedagogical practices and class activities and strategies; (2) guiding philosophies in teaching PE online; and (3) reflections.

Pedagogical Practices

Three areas of concern emerged from the interviews supported by visits in the virtual classrooms regarding the pedagogical practices of PE teachers in their online classes. These included a description of their typical day, student support, and class activities.

Typical day. A close look at the daily instructional practices of online PE teachers may be helpful in providing insight about how an online PE class works, and how an online PE teacher can facilitate student learning virtually. Analysis of the participants’ typical day yielded six (6) common practices. This included: (a) waking up early; (b) making a presentable appearance to the students; (c) creating conducive conditions for the virtual classes; (d) doing physical fitness activities; (e) checking email, answering messages, checking Facebook, and replying to students’ queries; and (f) checking student outputs.

For a more specific description, let us consider Larry’s typical day. Larry wakes up early to prepare for his online classes such as installing a camera and looking for a spot that would provide good lighting. In between classes, he would check emails, answer messages, check Facebook, and reply to students’ queries. This took so much of his time, so he devised a way of taking note of frequently asked questions and discussing them in his next virtual meeting.

A typical day for Cindy on the other hand, always started with excitement in meeting her students. As an early riser, she saw to it that everything was in order before class started. This included making herself presentable to the students, preparing her PowerPoint or videos for discussion, and setting conducive conditions such as good lighting and clear audio using a headset. Students are advised to submit their outputs to the MSU-IIT Online Learning Environment (MOLE). For privacy purposes, students download their videos on YouTube then submit the link and post to MOLE.

For Jeff, who was very particular in creating conducive conditions for his classes, he would prepare and check his materials the night before. He would prepare in advance the questions to be asked and saw to it that pre-assessment activities were in place. Part of a conducive learning condition would be a presentable appearance against a plain background and enough space for demonstration purposes.

Checking emails, answering social media messages, checking Facebook, and replying to students’ queries also constituted part of the other participants’ typical day. As with Kenneth, he would entertain questions until 10:00 at night and make announcements through a group chat created for the class. A big chunk of the participants’ typical day was spent checking students’ outputs. Checking was done either in between classes or after classes. In consideration of students who might find technical problems in submitting their outputs, Jeff for example would wait to check student outputs two days after the deadline. Some teachers observed weekly post-advisory to those who failed to submit their outputs. Other participants would use the group chat to remind students who failed to submit their requirements.

This is consistent with the findings of Hiloma et al. (2021), who reported that teachers exercised flexibility to be responsive to students’ learning needs. Student’s difficulties in online classes due to lack of gadgets and poor internet connectivity call for “modification of classroom management strategies to respond to the fluctuating classroom environment”. Because the COVID-19 pandemic changed the learning environments of PE classes, teachers needed to modify their pedagogical approaches to respond to the learning limitations that students experience.

Class Activities / Strategies. It was found out that PE teachers utilized a variety of online activities depending on the areas taught. In teaching dance, most of the participants employed demonstration teaching through recorded video prepared by teachers themselves as teachers want to show their mastery to the students and provide personalized teaching. This shows that college teachers were more likely to make course videos for students to watch (Wu, 2021).

In the case of Cindy, after her demonstration, students dance with her. When students mastered the basic steps, they were then required to choreograph their own dance at home. They partnered either with a friend or family member which allowed students not only to be creative but also to bond with their family. Cindy also adopted a simple practice to ensure students acquire creativity through what she called TikTok Dance Challenge with a Twist. This activity further developed students’ creativity as they had to perform a TikTok dance trend while also incorporating a story or task such as putting on one’s shoes. As Cindy described it, “This activity was both enjoyable to the students and the teacher.” To the teacher, it was an affirmation that students learned from her and was therefore gratifying. To the students, it was a manifestation that learning PE and dancing is fun.”

In the case of Jeff and Larry, they gave demonstrations using recorded videos as some students had problems with connectivity. After these, students were required to choreograph and execute the dance collaboratively. Several studies conducted before the pandemic reported negative results on collaborative student engagements. This “revealed members’ discomfort about interacting with the students whom they did not already know” (Vonderwell, 2003). It was further reported that students expressed a lack of social engagement and hesitated to contact each other.

However, during the pandemic, these negative connotations with online collaborative work changed. Whereas before the pandemic, students had many opportunities for physical contact with other students/friends and were open to other social engagements, the pandemic restricted them from these activities. They were forced to stay at home and felt isolated. Thus, collaborative work done online which required students to edit their presentations, was a welcome opportunity to socialize with classmates. Though “touchless”, this activity provided them an opportunity to collaborate and interact reducing the feeling of isolation. As Larry stated, “I want something where they can use pretty much anything they can use. I want them to be creative and get enthusiastic about it and erase the feeling of isolation as the task involved working virtually with the group.”

Moreover, Larry created a technique for teaching the basic dance steps using a square board filled with numbers representing footsteps to guide in executing the basic dance steps. This contrasts with the study of Hiloma et al. (2021) who concluded that there was no mention of unique or novel approaches and strategies both for online instruction and assessment which they attributed to the participants’ lack of experience in handling online PE prior to the pandemic.

As shown in this case, teachers can be innovative in teaching online. Other teachers showcased excellent outputs to inspire other students and to recognize quality outputs.

Teaching sports online, however, was a different ball game since games cannot be orchestrated like dancing. For example, Lyn was limited in requiring students to submit videos of warm-up exercises. Kenneth devised a way to integrate team sports into e-sports which students played online. This innovation was applied in an interclass tournament where he divided the class into two teams. This was shown on Facebook where students had individual assignments either as players, team leaders, directors, scorers, watchers, or announcers. Students did the planning and implementation of the tournament virtually.

Teaching PE online also enabled teachers to use online applications. They used Padlet and Forum in classroom discussions, used in quizzes, and the Clock Method in teaching badminton. In addition to these online applications, Lyn used video animation to present the sensitive topic of human reproduction. Some teachers used differentiated instruction as an offshoot of their beliefs in multiple intelligences and individual differences. In planning class activities, they saw to it that students’ individualities were considered. Katrina said, “I allow my Muslim students to work on different activities that would not go against their cultural and religious practices”.

Despite the pandemic, the participants continued their programs and sports activities initiated by students as required in the subjects concerned. Teachers like Becky and Kenneth devised a way to teach team sports by organizing tournaments or competitions. In teaching Sports Management, Becky started by organizing an international webinar on Physical Education and Sports, inviting a speaker from Singapore as part of their faculty exchange program. After the webinar, the students were required to conduct various activities that would allow them to put into practice their knowledge of managing team sports. The class was divided into groups where each group acted as facilitators, and others were in charge of the technical aspects as this activity was done online. The roles of the groups were rotated allowing them to experience all the roles needed in managing a sports competition such as arnis, Laro ng Lahi (native games), and ballroom. Planning various competitions were done by students online. They conducted these different competitions in five high schools. This was considered a hybrid approach since the competitions were conducted in person observing health protocols but other activities starting with the webinar and planning were done online. These activities were recorded and submitted to the teacher as student outputs.

In general, it can be said that teaching PE online enabled teachers to use varied techniques and strategies in teaching which were predominantly internet-based. The activities and strategies used by the PE teachers challenged the creativity of students and developed innovative ways of teaching PE online. Through all of these, they provided student support and facilitated student success. As a result, students became creative independent.

Student Support or Scaffolding. PE teachers extended varied support to their students. Listening to the interviews, the researcher identified three areas of teacher support. These included communication, consideration, and concern. An important student support is communication between students and teachers and among students themselves. As Roorda et al. (2011) pointed out, “Positive teacher –student connections are associated with higher levels of student involvement, motivation, and academic accomplishment.”

Students found the freedom to pose questions via SMS as there were questions that they might have hesitated to ask openly in the presence of their classmates. As Lyn shared, communications between her and her students improved because of the increased use of communication technologies. Aside from providing varied forms of communication, in the case of Kenneth, he observed weekly post-advisory to those who failed to submit their outputs. He entertained questions until 10:00 at night to show support to his students and made announcements through a group chat created for the class. Communication was not limited to student queries but also included reminders from teachers for non-submission of outputs of missing the deadlines. As Howland and Moore (2002) pointed out, communication between students and teachers was a critical issue in internet-based courses.

Another form of student support was giving consideration to students. This came in the form of accepting late submissions, giving extra time to prepare for written exams, and understanding students who had no gadgets therefore submitting poor quality. As for Jeff, he always gave emotional support to students, especially those who were struggling with academic work. He encouraged students to continue schooling despite the challenges they were facing during this pandemic. He gave positive reinforcement or recognition to those who were performing well. Jeff practiced consideration of his students and judged student outputs not so much with the “form” but more of “substance” or content. Jeff admitted “I became more sensitive to my students’ needs concerning lack of gadgets and poor connectivity which may cause delays in submission of outputs”. He said he had developed empathy with students and saw learning more from the students’ viewpoint.

Finally, PE teachers supported their students by helping them develop their potential. Junjun organized student activities to support student learning. As an adviser of a PE student organization, he created a dance group, conducted virtual meetings, and encouraged students to succeed academically. With the pandemic, these activities were done virtually. Meanwhile, Cindy encouraged her students who are good at dancing to join cultural troupes to further hone their talents.

Guiding Philosophies/Theories

Most of the participants such as Larry, Kenneth, Katrina, and Junjun anchored their teaching on Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Theory which led them to individualize instruction and to not be judgmental. Junjun believed that every student has a different gift, not necessarily mental intelligence. Applying this philosophy, he does not judge his students but felt that it was his responsibility to guide his students to develop their gifts. Katrina, also a believer in multiple intelligences individualized her teaching by using differentiated instruction. Teaching in a multicultural classroom required her to respect her students’ cultural diversities. As Katrina shared, “I not only differentiate instruction, but I differentiate what I ask my students to produce to demonstrate understanding. This is critical to challenging students and keeping them engaged.”

All the participants believed in Bandura’s Social Learning Theory leading them to use demonstration in teaching dance and sports requiring students to observe and imitate. In addition, they made use of Liv Vygotsky’s use of scaffolding especially for students who seemed to fall behind. They made use of collaborative learning approach where grouping was heterogeneous to make sure that fast learners and slow learners can benefit from one another.

Jeff believed in experiential learning saying that, “Experience is the best teacher.” Kenneth on the other hand was an existentialist. He was student-centered, allowing them to make their own choices in making their outputs. Lyn was a pragmatist. She believed in the practical side of life, stating that “Knowledge and skills in PE should be used for practical applications.” This study showed that teachers adopted various theories and philosophies that guided them in the design and implementation of an effective online learning environment. Furthermore, it indicated that PE teachers adopted different theories and beliefs, not relying on one theory alone.

Teachers’ Reflections

Teachers’ reflections included how they looked at teaching PE online. This included their perceptions on what they thought they needed to know to successfully teach PE online, the challenges encountered in teaching PE online, and their positive experiences while teaching PE online.

Perceptions on teaching PE online. When asked how they viewed teaching PE, their common response was that “teaching PE is a calling and a gift to be shared and celebrated.” They considered it a calling because most of them did not initially decide to be PE teachers, but in some ways, they were led to teach PE. They considered it a gift because almost all of them had talent in dancing, cheerleading, and playing sports. Considering their talents as gifts, they became passionate about sharing these gifts with their students. For Katrina, teaching PE was a gift, and this gift was her passion for dancing and sports, particularly in arnis. It was a passion that led her to instill discipline and correct the misbehavior of her students.

Cindy considered teaching as a calling because not everybody is called to teach and not everybody can teach. Similarly, Junjun shared that he considered teaching PE as a calling and that he was called by God to share his talents with his students. Other teachers like Becky and Larry looked at teaching not only as a calling but as a gift in itself as well. Larry was thankful to have chosen teaching PE as it led him to travels, competitions, and even entry to reputable schools which were gifts in themselves too. Becky likewise looked at teaching PE as God’s calling because she already finished a non-PE-related degree before she thought of teaching PE. Likewise, she considered it a gift because through PE she got recognized and appreciated even outside the country.

A calling implies a deep-seated belief that teaching is the only profession that makes sense for one to pursue such as a nudge toward the teaching profession from a former teacher or parent as in the case of Jeff and Lyn who were influenced by their teacher and father respectively. This was because these influencers saw their passion in sports, dancing, and PE-related activities that a simple suggestion made them decide to pursue a career in teaching PE.

Challenges. Transitioning from face-to-face to online learning spawned some barriers for teachers considering that it happened without preparation. In the case of most of the participants, they easily transitioned to online teaching because of their previous training. However, they indicated challenges encountered but these mostly came from the students’ end. Some of them did not have gadgets and resorted to borrowing from friends or family members. A similar finding was reported by Baticulon et al. (2020), stating that 1 out of 5 students did not have a computer, and relied on prepaid mobile data for connectivity. Power interruptions, weak infrastructure, and internet costs restricted the students’ access to online content. Similarly, Elshami et al. (2021) reported that technical problems led to reduced student satisfaction. This condition prevented teachers from presenting live demonstrations and had to resort to recorded videos.

From the teachers’ end, they admitted the difficulty of teaching sports compared to dancing where movements are choreographed. Actions and moves in games were unpredictable. Another challenge in teaching PE online was assessing the individual outputs of students as these came in videos increasing the workload of teachers. For Lyn, this became more complicated when students did not follow deadlines and submitted on the eleventh hour. With the school’s pronouncement to be considerate to students during this pandemic, this task became even more difficult.

They find this more overwhelming as the evaluation of the performances did not happen on the spot like in the face-to-face. The respondents in the Hiloma (2021) study shared their sentiments about the seemingly compromised quality in the performance and outputs of some students. Some students fail to accomplish tasks and must be constantly reminded and compelled to submit their outputs. In addition, those who did submit their tasks appeared as if they did not take the task seriously. The respondents found this more challenging unlike in the face- to-face learning setup where students were more proactive in class.

Some teachers resorted to group activity to solve this problem. However, because of the strict implementation of social distancing, students needed to edit their outputs to put together each one’s contribution. Though “touchless,” this activity provided them an opportunity to collaborate and interact reducing the feeling of isolation.

Though most of the respondents were comfortable with the use of technology in teaching PE, they still felt the need for more training to improve their strategies and techniques in teaching PE online. This is consistent with the study of Jeong and So (2020) whose participants admitted their lack of handling PE online but proactively sought professional improvement like producing their online class videos and materials.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it challenges for teaching PE online. Nonetheless, teachers will be best served by taking advantage of these extraordinary circumstances, focusing upon the advantages of technology, and using it as an opportunity to enhance teaching online. Furthermore, much of what is effectively taught in the online situation may be further utilized in future blended teaching in the post-COVID-19 era—all of which may allow for timesaving in face-to-face situations and make teaching PE more productive.

Positive Experiences. The majority of the participants enjoined that they were happy to see that their students learned from their online classes as evidenced by the outputs. In the case of Katrina, she reflected that whether students learned or not was primarily her responsibility as a teacher. That is why she was happy to see her students showing evidence of learning.

For Junjun he was happy to know more about his students and their interests. This was shared by Kenneth and Larry who admitted that checking outputs was also enjoyable knowing that students learned from them as evidenced by their progress and sometimes student outputs would have funny moments. All teachers appreciated the fact that students learned on their own, became independent learners, and developed creativity. Larry shared that he liked the challenges online teaching brought as he learned from the experience. It led him to acquire more skills, including learning how to manage time better. Most of the teachers confided that they enjoyed most the opportunity of working at the comfort of their homes.

Lyn liked the easy communication feature of online teaching. Students can easily be reached through the tip of their fingers using mobile phones, internet, and social media.


This investigation included limitations related to the sample that should be acknowledged in interpreting the results. First, all the participants taught college PE in a state-owned institution providing the same curriculum and school facilities. By limiting participants who worked in a state university with the same setting and common student populations, the results may not be generalized. Second, this study examined the teachers’ experiences, guiding philosophies, and reflections on teaching college PE online. To get a definite sense of their experiences, it would be useful to elicit feedback from their students. Finally, the participants were not interviewed frequently. This study was, however, crafted in response to the unpredictable arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. To create a timely product, the researcher was forced to work in an expedited manner, limiting the amount of available data.


The aims of this study were to examine the PE teachers’ practices, the teaching philosophies that guided them, and their reflections on teaching PE online.

Results indicated that while teaching PE online, participants were challenged to use varied activities and strategies, delved into their teaching philosophies to support their teaching, and reflected on the whole teaching experience itself. Teachers transitioned smoothly to online teaching and provided student support that helped students cope with the transition. It was also essential for teachers to identify alternative strategies to support student learning. It may be concluded that in the process of ensuring the quality of online education, teachers play a key role. Not only because the teacher faces the students directly, but also because more responsibility has been put on the teacher’s shoulder. It is the opinion of the researcher that students learn from good teachers regardless of the learning mode. Teachers have the greatest impact on learning, not the mode or delivery of learning.

Results further revealed that the teachers’ philosophies and the theories they subscribed to, guided them in choosing strategies and activities they employed in online teaching. This study also unearthed the teachers’ reflections on teaching PE online. Results indicated that teachers felt that the challenges were more at the students’ end such as lack of gadgets and poor internet connectivity. They experienced difficulties though in assessing student outputs which usually came as videos.

This study has contributed to the literature on online education. It has also provided valuable information from teachers that can serve online students, other PE teachers, and administrators in providing more effective online education. This research can serve as a valuable guide for PE faculty seeking to improve current PE technologies and practices to produce next generation resources for the profession.

This research is instrumental in providing a landscape of challenges, successes, gaps, and barriers encountered by teachers and students as they migrated to online teaching during the pandemic. Regardless of the status of the COVID-19 pandemic or potential pandemics in the future, this study has shown that online teaching is a promising endeavor in a growing digital world.

The experiences of PE teachers as they switched to remote instruction during the onset of COVID-19 yielded important insights into the landscape of physical education. It is the opinion of the researcher, however, that teachers can overcome the barriers presented to them and still produce good learning outcomes. With the right strategies, guided by a sound teaching philosophy, quality online physical education can be ensured. It is comforting to know that PE teachers are willing to embrace an online learning environment. The results of this study supported the premise that college PE can be taught online and is workable in this time of pandemic. The implication of this willingness to use online instruction is a glimmer of hope in the terrible situation that COVID-19 brought about.


From the results of this study, administrators are challenged to support PE teachers through continued professional development. Technological support is needed as teachers adapt to changing technologies as they lead students on a new path towards learning in physical education.

The findings of this study would persuade educational institutions to develop the quality of online teaching by enhancing the assessment of student outputs and providing continuous training to teachers. Thus, PE teachers need to be equipped with the required digital literacy skills and be prepared to teach in environments where students have a great interest and where they can capitalize on their proficiency to excel academically.

It is hoped that the study provides PE teachers with an opportunity to reflect on and assess their current practices. It calls for the physical education community to explore and innovate various ways to enhance student engagement, develop authentic assessment tools, and promote inclusive and relevant PE curriculum. Future partnerships may be explored through national and international linkages with the goal of building a community of learning to improve teaching PE online.

This study has investigated the adoption of online teaching in PE during the COVID-19 outbreak. However, it is confined to a limited number of participants from a sample university. Therefore, similar studies regarding the adoption of online learning in other schools other than a state university may be explored to strengthen the findings and broaden people’s understanding of the issue.


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International Journal on Open and Distance e-Learning, Vol. 9 No. 1, June 2023 Issue