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Imagining the Classroom of 2016, Empowered by Wearable Technology

by Rick Delgado on April 20, 2014

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Wearable Tech is Poised for Explosive Growth in the Coming Years. How Will it Impact Education?

The next big shift in technology is the growth of wearable tech. We’ve already embraced mobile technology to the point that application vendors and technology support teams are thinking “mobile first”. Smartphones, tablets, and laptops are an increasingly common sight in the classroom, a change that has only come about in just the last few years. The next wave of innovation is likely to come from wearable technology — items like Google Glass, Samsung Galaxy Gear, and smart watches.

 wearable technology

Image from http://epthinking.blogspot.com/2014/01/on-future-of-wearable-technology.html

So what might the growth of wearable technology look like in the world of teaching and learning? Let’s envision a few scenarios.

Scenarios – Practical Advantages in the Classroom

Jennifer is busy working on a project in her chemistry lab. While she’s mixing chemicals together, the lab is slowly filling up with potentially dangerous fumes. Luckily, Jennifer and the other students are wearing smart jewelry designed specifically to detect these fumes. The jewelry quickly sends an alert to students and teacher, and the students evacuate quickly as the instructor vents the lab.

Mr. Brannon is the P.E. teacher at an elementary school. Each student in his class is equipped with a special bracelet that measures heart rate, hydration levels, how many steps they’ve taken, and even breathing rate. From his iPad, Mr. Brannon keeps track of each student’s fitness and knows how far to push them. Students get the physical activity they need, while Mr. Brannon makes sure they stay safe.

Helpful applications in and out of the Classroom

Professor Hiller decides to forego his usual big lectures and instead has his students interact with wearable devices powered with big data. From Professor Hiller’s laptop, he’s able to track each student’s performance individually and see how they’re responding to the learning materials, all in real-time. From there, he can tell which students are struggling and need extra help with some one-on-one instruction.

Stephen is an extremely busy college student with a full schedule and two part-time jobs. As he’s walking around campus, his Galaxy Gear smartwatch receives an alert. Looking down, he sees one of his professors has sent out a class-wide message saying tomorrow’s assignment has been postponed until the following week. Moments later, Stephen receives another alert, this one a voice recording sent from another professor’s smartwatch telling him Thursday’s class is canceled.

Alice sits in a big lecture hall for her biology class. She enjoys the material, but she finds it difficult to take good notes. This time, she pulls out Google Glass and hits the record button. The wearable tech is able to record the professor’s lecture. She can then play the recording back at a later date so she can review the material directly from the professor’s mouth.

Students in Miss Williams’s fourth-grade class are heading to the zoo for a field trip. Each student is outfitted with Google Glass to help with their learning experience. While walking around the zoo, students see many different types of animals. With the smart glasses technology, students are able to see facts about each animal pop up on their display, giving them an added educational experience.

More Scenarios Envisioning Benefits of Wearable Tech for Teachers

Professor Davis teaches an introductory physics class in college. This class is filled with hundreds of students. Using a pair of smart glasses with facial recognition technology, Professor Davis is able to answer questions from students by calling them by name. At the same time, he is able to use the similar technology to instantly take attendance for the entire class.

Mrs. Perry teaches a cooking class at her high school. While her demonstrations in class are certainly helpful, she’s found another way to reach her students. With smart glasses, she’s able to record actual point-of-view footage on how to cook certain meals. The recordings help her students understand proper technique a lot better than reading from a textbook.

Many of the advantages wearable devices can bring to education are only beginning to be realized. Can you envision other scenarios like these? As the technology becomes more ingrained in the classroom, teachers and students will discover the best ways to utilize all its benefits. Wearable technology will help classrooms be more productive and efficient, accelerating the learning process.

Wearable Technology & “BYOD”

One key to wearable technology’s proliferation in the classroom is a subject that has inspired a lot of debate in education–that of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies. More and more schools and colleges allow students to bring their personal devices into the classroom to aid in the learning process. If wearable tech is to make a similar splash in education, BYOD policies would need to spread even further. Many educators and analysts say there’s just no stopping the trend. About 13 million wearable tech devices were shipped in 2013, and that number is expected to increase to 170 million by 2018. Now let’s look at some possible scenarios for the future of wearable tech in education.

Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
5 Ways Google Glass Can Be Used in Education
3D Printing – Coming to a Classroom Near you (Sooner Than you Think)!
Augmented Reality – The Coolest Instructional Technology You Haven’t Heard of?

About 

Rick Delgado is a tech writer interested in the latest technology trends and the enterprise storage industry.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

riven April 13, 2016 at 12:40 am

awesome post in this new era we should be updated with new technology

Soph Katt August 8, 2014 at 3:43 am

All these wearable devices are just around the corner, BrandWatch partnered with digital strategy agency Brilliant Noise to investigate what tweets can tell us about the public appetite for smartwatches, Google Glass, virtual reality specs, fitness trackers and all the rest.

Christina July 1, 2014 at 3:25 pm

Some of these devices you mentioned sound like they will tremendously help teachers to differentiate instruction for their students. My favorite types of devices that you mentioned are the ones that allow teachers and students to record lessons or activities that can be used as a resource for the student when studying. With how fast technology is advancing it is exciting to see where education will be in just a few years! Thanks for the post!

Kelly Walsh April 22, 2014 at 6:51 am

Thanks Andrea – It was supposed to be “Imagining”, and I have now corrected it! Thanks so much for pointing it out (it is see easy to overlook own errors – even with guest posts, where I do a fair amount of editing, and often change the titles, as I did in this case).

Andrea Leyden April 22, 2014 at 6:09 am

Hi Kelly, really great post. I’ve shared it across my social media channels but upon reflection I have a quick question for you. Is the title supposed to say ‘Imagining’ or is ‘Imaging’ correct?

Thanks for your help.

Andrea

Kelly Walsh April 21, 2014 at 12:42 pm

Thanks for the great question, Ariel. Some of these things, like wearable wrist sensors, are easy to buy and not too expensive, but others are. Google is starting to experiment with approaches to making Glass available to the public (http://mashable.com/2014/04/18/google-glass-home-trial/), but a pair costs $1,500! Wearable watches are also very new and pricey. The good news is that we’re likely to see a lot of quick evolution in this area this year and into next, so you’ll probably be able to get your hands on these newer and more costly items to check out in stores before long, and prices should come down.

Ariel Margolis April 20, 2014 at 9:07 am

Great article! Love the possibilities… especially at the college level where the instruction has moved away from teacher directed to student directed. I wish there were a way to test out these techs… is there a way for teachers like myself who are early adopters and are willing to test out new hardware?

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