Peek Into the Future: Wearable Devices Will Shape eLearning

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Technology has had a profound impact on learning. The most recent significant overhaul came from the advent of mobile devices like the iPhone and iPad. We’re now able to optimize learning content for engagement on these mobile devices, meaning that training is no longer anchored to the classroom or desktop. Employees are more empowered and self-sufficient than ever, armed with performance support materials and checklists to help them do their jobs better, faster and with fewer mistakes.

We’re getting ready to witness another wave of advancements in technology that has the potential to change how we learn yet again. Wearable technology is on a fast-paced growth track, with several devices already commanding the market. Here are just a handful of examples:

  • Eyeglass computers, such as Google Glass
  • Smart watches, like the much-anticipated Apple Watch
  • Personal activity monitors, like Fitbit and Nike Fit Band
  • Wearable cameras, such as GoPro and Autographer

As this article from Educause points out, wearable technology can run the gamut from the complex and multi-functional - like Google Glass - to the rather simple, focused device like a personal activity monitor that logs steps taken throughout the day.

While some questions are being raised about privacy and security, it’s not difficult to see the tremendous potential for wearable eLearning technology. Here are a few reasons to ponder:

  1. Wearables are hands-free, and sometimes voice-activated. Current mobile performance support requires a handheld mobile device, like a smartphone or tablet. While incredibly efficient and handy - no pun intended - it does require the learner to stop what they’re doing to pick up the device and navigate to the content they need. Wearable tech has the potential to respond to a user’s environment and possibly voice-commands to call up supporting content without disrupting the task at hand.
  2. Wearables have the potential to be even more intuitive than today’s mobile devices. They have the potential to require less effort on the part of the wearer to make it work, and can recognize and respond to the surrounding environment.
  3. Content is delivered and consumed faster, easier and is embedded in real life. Learning in a classroom, storing information for later, then trying to recall it when it’s needed is proving to be a terrible way to train.
  4. Information is accessible and sharable in real time.
  5. Paired with other up-and-coming technology, like augmented reality, wearable devices such as Google Glass have the potential to create multidimensional, spatially-accurate simulations for learning and performance support.

How Far Away is the Future?

If the thought of this sounds a little too Inspector Gadget for you, don’t worry. You have plenty of time to get comfortable with the idea. While it seems everyone you know has a FitBit, wearable devices as a whole are a long way from mainstream adoption. There are many questions lingering and improvements to be made, such as battery life, data synchronization with other devices and systems, improved functionality, ease of use, and privacy and security concerns.

If you're interested, check out ExpandShare's eLearning Services to see how your program can be an epic success.