The University of Houston has started using the Wii in some of its physical education classes. Say what? According to this article, using the Wii can burn calories at a faster rate than sitting on the couch and watching tv (no big surprise there), but not quite as fast as if you are doing something besides playing what is still a video game. The students apparently rank the Wii right up there with having their own personal trainers, which tells me that they more than likely have never been to a personal trainer.
The University of Houston is not the only place to use the Wii for different purposes. A teacher at Bullit Lick Middle School (please no jokes about the name!) has recently discovered multiple educational uses for the Wii and the school recently hosted a small event on how the Wii had "revolutionized" their classroom. Amanda Yarbrough, a Physical Education teacher at the Middle School, brought in her own Wii as a way for her Special Education students to become active and fit using Wii balance and other activities. For students in a reading program, the students used the Wii and then write about their experiences afterwards.
Amanda Yarbrough may feel all alone in her use of the Wii as an educational tool, but David Brantley, who is a first grade teacher in Indiana has also taken the Wii to the next level. He is using the wii to teach his students about weather and geography and has had a bowling competition with another class at the school with strong resutls. According to Edutopia, the use of technology in the classroom has many advantages, including engaging the students more than they would be otherwise.
While I can buy the fact the Wii has some educational value, I really have a problem with a Wii PE class in higher education. I'm not saying that the Wii fit doesn't have advantages, but I don't think it can compare to a basketball or soccer class. Seriously, what does the teacher do in a Wii PE class? Teach the students how to turn on the machine? Hopefully, if they're at the university level, they're experienced enough already to turn on a video game console. And what's wrong with a good old-fashioned hula hoop anyway?