Wearable Learning : the next big thing?

janeonglassI’ve been quietly monitoring the emergence of wearable technologies for the last few years. However, since most of the wearable devices (Google Glass, smart watches, jewellery, etc) have only been available in the US, I’ve not been able to get my hands on them, but things have now changed, as the Google Glass Explorer Program has now come to the UK. So it’s time for me to break cover and declare my interest, involvement and excitement in this new Wearable Era.

Although some have commented that smart phones and tablets are now dead, as wearables open up the post-mobile age, this is unlikely to be the case for some time – after all Glass requires a connection with a smartphone for its use on the go.  Having said that, although we have seen a trickle of wearable devices over the past few years, reports suggest that in the next few years, wearables are likely to flood the consumer and corporate technology markets.

For consumers, up to now, their use has been primarily for fitness and other “quantified self” purposes, and it is true that they have not yet been adopted on a large scale, due to their geeky looks, but that is something that producers have been focusing on changing. However, Deloitte believes the real opportunities are within enterprises – and that the rewards and advantages will go to the early adopters – with the main benefit being increased productivity in the application of these new heads-up, hands-free devices.

Nevertheless, in the workplace there are considerable issues, like privacy and security, that need to be addressed. Many organisations will probably have the same knee-jerk reaction they had with smartphones and social media – that is to try and ban them – although it is clear that that is not going to work. Others will need help with appropriate workplace policies that include wearable netiquette, and others will be looking to adopt BYOW (Bring Your Own Wearable) or WYOD (Wear Your Own Device) strategies.

In terms of learning, the future use of wearables will not be about trying to shrink content to fit onto these devices – as we have seen happen with mLearning, but  to think differently about how we can support learning and performance support through these devices. But one thing is for certain, as Jeanne Meister points out in Forbes:

Social learning and mobile learning on your tablet or SmartPhone will seem so yesterday!

So, as we move further into the Wearable Era, my own interest and involvement in this area falls into two areas:

  1. Providing independent information, advice and support on the use of wearable technology and the implications for its use in education, the enterprise and other organisations.
  2. Helping to develop new (learning) applications for wearable devices like Google Glass, smart watches etc.

In fact, I’ve already started work on both of these initiatives, and hope to be able to share news shortly about a number of wearable learning projects I’m involved with. For more information, advice and app development in the use of wearables for personal and business performance, visit our new Advanced Performance Technology website, or follow us on Twitter @AdvPerfTech If you are interested in the personal use of wearables as learningwear, then follow @LearningWear.

Next post: Courseware vs LearningWear – or how wearables fit into the learning ecosystem

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