I’m “The PE Geek”, otherwise known as Jarrod Robinson.
You might have heard about me if you’re into contemporary ways of teaching PE through modern digital tools and apps.
I’m a passionate advocate of using technology to boost our teaching skill set, the learning potential of our students, and, most importantly, physical activity and development improvement.
The pinnacle of my work is my work at The PE Geek which helps teachers connect their methods with the major potential of today’s tech.
But, of course, my beginnings are much humbler, some might even say an accident.
So, here’s the story about how I got started.
It All Started With A (Hilarious) Blog
It all began in 2008.
Back in the day, blogging was pretty much something brand-new, so it required some expertise in web development and constructing your internet presence.
Then it became available to everyone — we all had a chance of saying something online and being heard.
It seemed to me like something that could challenge the ways we do things in classrooms, and how we communicate with our students, so I felt I had to give it a try.
The WordPress Blog
I stumbled upon WordPress and signed up for an account. You can actually still find my first post up there, and see how much I hadn’t had the slightest idea of what I was doing. I often go back to that post myself, because it’s hilarious, yet it represents a milestone for me and everything I’ve achieved today.
My students and I quickly spread the idea of the blog through our classroom. The opportunities were infinite.
In the first months of blogging, we did a lot of cool and exciting stuff (at the time)… my students commented on my posts, created their own blogs, and shared the content among themselves.
We even discovered a site that allowed recorded sound files from mobile phones to be uploaded directly on WordPress, wherever you are.
From there it went like a wildfire. We uploaded experiences from our trips, which was the first notion of on-foot, outdoors content creating and sharing that forms the base of my work today.
Apart from knowing that the students benefited from the blog, I did it just to document all the things we did in our class, and to encourage blogging as a way of educational expression along with my lessons. I had zero knowledge of how many people, if any, came to visit my site.
It started with a blog post. Jarrod Robinson is now known throughout the worldwide PE teachers’ community. Read about his story here.
Then the first comment ever came. I’ve received an email which said that a certain Tim commented: “This is the truest and most brilliant blog post I’ve ever read.”
It was a “whoa” moment for me. It hit me right then and there – someone was actually reading my blog.
Whoa, indeed. Someone was interested in what I had to say, what we had to say!
That comment pretty much proved to be fuel for my further writing. I wrote, I shared the tools I used, I described the methods I’ve tested…
Upon something which was, as I deduced a couple of years after, a spam comment. How ironic!
But, if it hadn’t occurred, who knows where I’d be now?
Those are my humble origins.
After a couple of years of blogging, I thought it’d be nice to compress some of my most popular posts into a single file which would be available for download.
I gave it to everyone who was interested until someone said: “Hey, you can set these articles onto paper!”
I was thrilled with the number of people who wanted to read that stuff, so I’ve made the steps. And the concept was ready…
The E-book Phase
The blog was an important place for a great number of PE teachers worldwide to check for info and material about the new methods and tech utilities for learning and training. It served as a vessel for me to share my knowledge.
Then an opportunity of a slightly different nature arose. A bimonthly magazine about physical activity and education in Australia, called “Active Education”, expressed interest in being a possible platform for my articles.
They were, among other things, interested in the aspect of technology in physical education, and that was something I’ve gathered some knowledge about on my blog. They got in touch with me and made an offer.
At that point, the blog had a relatively small circle of followers. I’ve been reluctant at first about accepting the offer, but the opportunity for expanding my audience took victory over my fears.
We made an agreement for 1500-word articles on a bimonthly basis. They wanted content related to the ways technology can make people more active, and interested in physical education. That was exactly the thing I was aiming for with my blogs!
Of course, I couldn’t post the content to my blog, since the magazine owned the rights to it, but my name was mentioned and the popularity of what I was talking about grew.
I was writing, with an occasional deadline breach and angry magazine board, but plenty of positive and useful experience for me, for about a year and a half. And then the magazine shut down.
So, I was left with a bunch of articles that I no longer had a place for.
I asked: “What should I do with them now?”, and they answered: “They are yours, why don’t you put them on your website, or even publish them somewhere?”
And, upon a closer look, I realised they were created in a form of 1500-word chapters. It was a perfect form for an e-book, and the content could really prove to be useful for PE teachers in their education methodology, as it was easily integratable into their regular class programs.
So, I kind of googled “publishing eBooks”, and quickly stumbled upon Lulu.
What Lulu offered was the ability to upload already prepared documents or PDFs, and convert them into eBooks. People could easily read such texts from any device, wherever they are. It was exactly the thing I was looking for!
Another glance at my articles revealed they were already edited, and because of that they were written in a unified editorial style, so that took the biggest load of work off my back.
Turning your teaching career into something more? Listen to my story. #JarrodRobinson
What I did was write an introduction, a conclusion, a bit of work connecting separate articles into a whole, and a front cover (God, was that cover awful, now that I look back to it…) and hit the upload button. The book was there!
However, a single option puzzled me – setting the price for the eBook. It was a 15-chapter; 20,000-word long eBook, and I was in a state of I-don’t-wanna-be-rude combined with not having the slightest idea of how much worth I could get out of it.
So I set it at $1.99.
Hey, it was extremely undervalued, but I didn’t expect anything.
Yes, it was innovating, useful to other PE teachers, and pretty hard year-long work for me, but I didn’t really appreciate my effort to be of higher value.
The very same night I uploaded that eBook, I made a blog post with a link that traced back to it, without any expectations. That very same night the first sale was made. When I logged back in the next morning, 40 sales were made.
It was mind-blowing. It was game-changing. I just sat there and thought – “wow!”
You could really be paid for what you did online… if your work was good, if your material was good, and if you provided something valuable to others.
It planted a seed for even bigger projects, and those led me to where I am today. (part 2 coming soon)
You can do this too. You simple need to make a start. You put in some effort. You get rewarded for your work.
It is doable. I’m living proof.
Want to see what my blog has become since I started? Check out my blog here.