Wearables and L+D

This post was written by Holly MacDonald of Spark + Co, one of our chat2lrn crew.

The internet of things is coming and in some cases it’s already here. Wearables are everywhere. It behooves us in the training field to track these technology changes and consider how they might influence our own practices. As with many technological advances, the potential for change is huge. Wearables create equal parts of fascination and fear for many people in general. And while it might seem far-fetched or sci-fi, it is not a movement that will go away.

First of all, what is a “wearable”?

According to http://www.wearabledevices.com/what-is-a-wearable-device/:

The terms “wearable technology“, “wearable devices“, and “wearables” all refer to electronic technologies or computers that are incorporated into items of clothing and accessories which can comfortably be worn on the body.

Wearables can have more than one function:

  • Accessing content
    • Google Glass
    • VR headsets (Oculus Rift, Google Cardboard)
    • Smart Watch
  • Trigger behaviour – these are “haptic touch” type of triggers. Your device or clothing buzzes you. This might remind you of something, or stop /start a behaviour.
    • Smart Watch/jewellry
    • Fitbit
    • Bands
  • Provide feedback
    • Typically a wearable device plus an app – e.g runtracker, biofeedback,

What are the implications for L+D?

  1. Delivering Training

Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality devices and software can provide a very robust simulated environment or enriched environment for training. This is used already in medical training, the military and flight training. Eventually, it’ll be a possibility for other industries as well.

Location specific beacons and a wearable (or an app) could serve up context/location specific content for employee training. Imagine a new employee who works in a certain physical section and needs to learn product and process in order to do their job. Training would not have to be linked to a computer, but could be triggered when the learner enters a certain area. This is already widely used in museums and other tourist attractions.

  1. Performance Support

There are lots of ways that we can consider wearables as performance support tools.

Training can be reinforced and performance can be monitored to help our learners adjust and refine their performance. For example, in physical jobs, smart clothing can collect data to help reduce repetitive strain injury. Immediate and specific corrective coaching could help avoid a lifetime of pain.

A new employee could wear a go-pro camera to record their actions the first time they complete a task after training and analyze where they could do things differently. They could even ask a more experienced employee to review with them or coach them.

An employee could set their wearable to nudge them during task completion with reminders or immediate feedback to ensure that they are doing it right. This would be especially useful for job sites that are “field based”.

Knowledge workers might use “mood tracker” and device combinations to monitor their own performance, much like a high performing athlete does. The “Quantified Self” movement could be adapted to learning, where individuals use wearables to provide information and feedback about their learning goals.

Probably the biggest fear for people in L+D is the potential for employers to use the technology to spy, punish or otherwise manipulate workers. This is a valid fear, but still won’t stop the wearable movement from happening, so it’s better to get out in front of it and shape how it might work for good in L+D.

Come and join the chat on Thursday, November 3rd to learn more about wearables, share your experience, or feed your fascination!


For the keeners:

I wrote a number of posts about this earlier this year that go into more detail of the possible ways that wearables could play a role in L+D. https://sparkyourinterest.wordpress.com/2015/04/14/wearables-and-knowledge-workers-a-perfect-match-for-learning/

I also encourage you to read Donald Clark’s posts on VR, he always has insightful comments. http://donaldclarkplanb.blogspot.co.uk/search?q=wearables

Julian Stodd also wrote a couple of posts that are really great https://julianstodd.wordpress.com/2015/02/27/the-inexorable-march-in-the-quantification-of-me/ and https://julianstodd.wordpress.com/2015/02/23/performance-enhancement-gadgets-gizmos-and-gopros/

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