Wearables Enter The Learning Environment

With Apple watch selling this summer, Wearables will enter the campus this fall en masse. The mobile revolution is having a significant impact on learning and the lives of our students, and Wearables will have an even greater impact – it will be the mobile revolution on steroids, no longer having to pull a device out of your pocket, hold it in your hands, use it and then put it away.

Wearables are Transformative

Wearable devices will bring access to Augmented Reality, power the Quantified Self, and connect us to the Internet of Things, transforming how we learn, interact, assess performance and demonstrate learning. And just as the mobile revolution has presented its challenges, we will find ourselves in a highly creative environment that will present its own unique questions.

Not Just a Faster Horse

Henry Ford supposedly said that if he asked his customers what they wanted, they would have asked for a faster horse. This is the world without the faster horse, a radically new terrain that will empower us to develop creative ways of engaging our students with new learning experiences; it will also raise profound challenges for our current educational models in both K-12 and Higher Education.

Knowledge and Instant Access

The fact that Wearables will offer instant access to information and Virtual Assistants raises profound questions on how we will structure learning activities and assess expertise.

When information can be immediately accessed from any place/location, what does it mean to have knowledge of something? To what extent will we allow and rely on Wearables to supplement what we know? In so many fields we are already enhancing the knowledge and skill sets of practitioners through technology (think for a minute of medicine and air travel). Where should we accept the benefits and where do we draw the line in what may be increasing reliance on Artificial Intelligence in the future? And most importantly how would these development impact learning experiences and reshape the future of education?

Wearables at NYU Stern

In the last two years I have been part of an amazing new program at Stern, where I piloted the use of two wearable devices. Rather than attending a traditional orientation for new students, NYU Stern students spent their first two days engaged in an innovation lab program where students work in teams to create a new service, product or an idea which directly affects their lives.

wearables at NYU Stern

Students use of iPads and mobile apps to creatively prototype their ideas, act and record a media story of the potential user experience. The students’ experience was captured through wearable technology including Google Glass and Narrative Clip.

During the two days a single Google Glass device travel through the hands and faces of our students, but in the future every student will have a Glass-like device.

With wearables, it’s not the technology but what the technology supports that is important. They will be an invisible lens, a flow of contextual information that will empower our understanding of ourselves and connect us with the world around us, the growing Internet of things, to create meaning and discovery.

Wearables and the Future of Education

The type of analytics these technologies can provide students and faculty will far surpass our current understanding of assessment and feedback. The combination of adaptive and connected learning with new wearable technology will enable students to have personalized learning environments centered on their individual learning styles and interests.

A Deeply Connected World

We are continuing on a trajectory of technology becoming increasingly miniaturized, personal and user-friendly. In the end, we are racing toward a highly social, media-rich, deeply interconnected world, where technology will be embedded in or on our bodies. We will be immersed in visual streams of information, bio and environmental data, that will transform not only our daily lives, but our understandings of physical and personal space, and social interactions.

Wearables will become part of our daily experience; we will learn, love and express ourselves with them in new and imaginative ways.