When it comes to using technology in the classroom, the wildly popular video game Dance Dance Revolution might not immediately spring to mind.
But Dance Dance Revolution, the arcade version of which has helped drive the “exergaming” craze aimed at combating skyrocketing child obesity rates, now offers a classroom edition suitable for large groups of students.
The classroom version gives teachers tools for guiding and tracking students’ movements, providing information such as the number of steps taken, a user’s body mass index and calories burned.
For anyone who has played Rock Band or Guitar Hero, D.D.R. is fairly straightforward. A song plays while arrows scroll up a television screen. Instead of strumming a plastic guitar, players are required to move their feet on a floor mat corresponding with the arrows on the screen. The workout begins when the music speeds up, requiring faster and more nimble footwork.
The P.C.-based system enables up to 48 mats to be wirelessly connected to a single computer. According to Konami, the game’s producer, playing Dance Dance Revolution Classroom Edition for 40 minutes is the equivalent of running a 5K race.
The practice of combining exercise with video game play is gaining traction in the United States.
According to one study, exergaming can improve students’ health by increasing “caloric expenditure, heart rate and coordination. Psychosocial and cognitive impacts of exergame play may include increased self-esteem, social interaction, motivation, attention and visual–spatial skills.”
In 2006, Konami, D.D.R.’s manufacturer, started using the game in a fitness program in West Virginia’s 765 public schools, according to MTV.com.
The inspiration for the program came when Linda Carson, a professor at West Virginia University’s School of Physical Education, saw kids working up a sweat while playing Dance Dance Revolution.
“I was in a mall walking by the arcade, and I saw these kids playing D.D.R., and I was just stunned,” Carson told The New York Times. “There were all these kids dancing and sweating and actually standing in line and paying money to be physically active. And they were drinking water, not soda. It was a physical educator’s dream.”
Since 2008, more than 1,000 schools across the country have incorporated D.D.R. into their physical education curricula, according to The New York Times.
While detractors argue that exergaming merely increases screen time while taking away from other healthy activities, school districts have reported positive outcomes as a result of integrating it into the physical education curriculum.
Article by Ted Glanzer, EducationWorld Contributor
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