The Horrors of Online PE


Emma Beachner

Many Kennedy students continue to use Edgenuity for online courses.

Online PE—something a majority of students are familiar with. Whether it was during the pandemic or as a part of their regular schedules, it’s inescapable. Students have used it as a way to opt out of the real class in hopes of gaining free time for extracurriculars, study hall or a release.

Despite arguments against a gym class requirement, it remains a required course for high school students. Physical activity may be important in a teen’s life but many students receive this through other programs like sports, show choir or marching band.

“Practicing every day and having games on the weeknights or the weekends is physically taxing for students, and then throwing a gym class on top of that could be a lot,” sophomore Jordan Harvey said.

Waivers in the past have been offered to students who are involved in said activities, allowing them to not need a gym class in their schedule. But it was determined that since students could not receive a grade for the sports they participated in, waivers would no longer be a viable option.

Another controversial issue with online gym is grading. Edgenuity, the website the course is offered on, is set up to score assignments based on keywords and phrases. Because of AI grading students’ work, many use outside sources as answer keys for these lessons. While it’s morally incorrect, it’s sometimes their best bet as objectively correct answers will not be counted as such.

The teachers who utilize Edgenuity for CRVA aren’t able to grade work themselves. These teachers are known as ‘teachers of record’. They work full-time in the building and run online courses. Teachers of record have to work with hundreds of students a day, making it almost impossible to grade every written response. This is where the AI steps in and makes the job easier.

While it does lighten the workload for teachers, it screws students over in the long run.

“I always tell my students…that a computer corrects it, it looks for keywords that came from the lesson. You can’t abbreviate,” said gym teacher Timothy Lewis. “Is it ideal to have the computer correct it? Absolutely not. But there’s just no way with the number of students we have right now that they ask us to grade and teach our full-time jobs.”

It’s not just the teachers who are strapped for time. Students tend to not have room in their daily schedules to complete the assignments every day. Learning is not seen as a priority since it’s just an online class. This leads to students playing the videos in class and becoming distracted during in-person instruction. Those who have taken the class before are aware the lessons are repeated each year.

“I would frequently find times when I didn’t have time for the class…It just seemed like a hassle to get the assignments done especially when you have other classes to do work in,” said Harvey.

The existence and requirement of the course is a waste of time for all parties involved, no matter what you’re involved in and if you’re willing to take online gym or not. With little to no gain from the lessons offered, it’s a lose-lose scenario. Teachers are being overworked to keep the program alive, while students struggle to even complete the course in its entirety and until there is a better alternative for this, the cycle will only continue.