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REPerformance Uses AI to Personalize Physical Education

A software company in Canada is bringing its web-based application to the U.S. that uses personal fitness data to create individualized workout programs and feedback geared toward their progress rather than ability.

A physical education class.
In an era when so much of a child’s time is monopolized by sitting in front of digital screens, some parents and educators are urging kids to get up and move. Some apps have tried to incorporate movement with other educational lessons, like the artificial intelligence-driven app Luca & Friends. This year an Ontario, Canada-based company that helps physical education staff teach physical literacy — basic skills young children need to learn, like running, jumping and catching — is releasing an AI-driven software tool in the U.S. that takes an individualized approach to fitness.

REPerformance said in a recent news release that its self-titled software tool, meant for grades 7-12, creates individualized workout programs for students based on assessment results and geared towards their current ability. After taking an assessment at the start of the school year, a teacher, parent or student plugs in the data and sets the student on a fitness journey based on their capability. The software also allows students to receive feedback during their activities, and it digitizes student-teacher communication by enabling teachers to upload personalized learning materials and make them instantly accessible to students.

REPerformance founder Callen McGibbon, who spent decades in the health and fitness industry, said it became clear from his time working with elite-level athletes who would perform in the Olympics and the National Hockey League that fitness has a positive impact on people’s wellbeing. Yet as the news release noted, fitness is not one-size-fits-all, and he thought students in PE classes should be graded on their progress over time rather than their ability in any given moment. When his own children were in school, he saw how schools would have kids do group activities and not focus on their individual needs, leading him to create and launch the REPerformance web application in 2019. He said it’s not just about making kids be active in general but getting them to improve, and opening the door for a better understanding of how well a child is doing based on how they progress over time.

“Rather than a cookie-cutter approach of ... ‘everyone’s going to do this today,’ the tech actually builds customized platforms for every student,” McGibbon told Government Technology. “So they’re starting in a place where they can succeed from on day one.”

REPerformance, which McGibbon said will have a full rollout for U.S. schools by the 2022-2023 academic year, has two patents in the U.S. and Canada for identifying sports potential and recommending a fitness regime based on data-backed insights, the release said. McGibbon said REPerformance is being used at 200 schools throughout Canada, and in the two years the application has been in use there, the average rate of improvement is around 4 percent each month.

“There are platforms that can cut kids into groups, but there’s nothing on the marketplace that creates an individual pathway for every student,” McGibbon said. “Our product actually trains the kids, progressing and regressing intensity of the drills based off their feedback, so they’re constantly (training) in a safe place.”
Giovanni Albanese Jr. is a staff writer for the Center for Digital Education. He has covered business, politics, breaking news and professional soccer over his more than 15-year reporting career. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Salem State University in Massachusetts.