Wearable devices have been around for a little while now (the Pebble and the Moto 360 probably being stand out examples) but there’s no doubt that the arrival of the Apple Watch has really bought this category into the public consciousness. But what will L&D make of wearables – and more to the point, what should we be doing with them?
Any time a new category of device comes along there’s no shortage of suppliers pushing ways to put their desktop elearning content onto your smartphone, tablet, drone or internet connected fridge. You just know that at Learning Technologies in 2016 there’ll be at least one company proudly showing off ways to put compliance training onto people’s wrists.
Now, we like technology and we love the ways it can be used to enable and enhance learning, but this rush to immediately use every available channel to deliver content doesn’t make sense to us. As devices have become smaller and more personal, the way we relate to them has become more intimate. This is particularly true with wearables – they are with you all of the time, usually in contact with your skin and often monitoring all manner of personal metrics from the steps you take to how well you sleep.
If we want to use wearables in the learning process we need to be aware of this intimacy. How much can we intrude without alienating the learner? How would we feel about using a borrowed or company issued wearable device? What are the limits when it comes to tracking and using the data these devices monitor? Right now we don’t even now what all the questions are let alone the answers.
We’re not setting out to prove or disprove their value in any particular use case, nor is it a competition to see which is better. The intention is to share how we use them, what works and what doesn’t, the things we plan to do and the serendipitous discoveries we make. By doing this we hope to better understand the relationship we have with wearables and in doing so discover how they might help us all as learners.