The educational technology services group at Pennsylvania State will be exploring how we use wearable technologies like the Apple Watch to help students think about and reflect on how they learn. Collecting data while this happens is perhaps one of the best ideas proposed so far for using the Apple Watch in learning environments. The research will use the Apple Watch as a reflective tool to capture how the students are engaging with their classmates, the content and the learning environment in general. The researchers posit that because the watch is worn it doesn’t have to be interacted with in the same way as the iPhone so it will not get in between what is being taught and the learner.
It will be interesting to see what this “Fitbit” type of measurement will reveal. Measuring performance with wearable devices like the Fitbit or the more advanced Freelap is central to speed training in many different sports. Coaches and athletes in these discipline are always looking for that competitive edge and understand that what gets measured gets improved.
Looking at new technologies and ways to enhance learning is always beneficial, but not everyone holds this belief. The comments section on the post is filled with the typical detractions:
Just another gimmick and with zero influence on student outcomes.
Wouldn’t it be nice if teachers and administrators (and the Chronicle) focused their resources (and our time) on the bread-and-butter of teaching and learning, instead of jumping on every gadgety distraction that comes along?
What about the thousands and thousands who do not have disposable income to waste on the latest trendy consumer status symbol?
I lived through the Mobile Learning initiative at Abilene Christian University several years ago where we pioneered using the iPhone and then iPads in the learning environment and since I started teaching fully online back in 1996 I have already heard all these criticisms and many more, so I am not surprised by all the detractors. Online learning, blended learning, mobile learning and now wearable learning all have one thing in common: a group of dedicated educators who are willing to explore how technology can be used to enhance the learning environment. If we really want progress then we need to keep up this spirit of exploration.
This reminds me of the proverb:
Those that say it can’t be done should get out of the way of those doing it.