’14 Prediction: Preparing for Wearable

I like trying to predict what each year will bring us in Educational Technology. Looking back over the topics I’ve chosen through the years this one blog post probably shows more than anything where I’m focusing my attention and passion with technology. Plus being a futurist is kind of fun…..you actually get to make it up. :)

Here are my past year’s predictions….you can decide for yourself if I am any good at it.

2007: The Year of the Network (Can we say Twitter and Facebook)

2008: The Year of the “Live Web (Ustream.tv and other services take off)

2009: Bringing Social Learning to the Masses (Education goes deeper in understanding social connections)

2010: The Year of the Mobile Web (iPad, Android, iPhone do I need to say more?)

2011: The Year of the QR Code (These little buggers start showing up everywhere)

2012: Mobile and Integration (Chromebooks, iPads, laptops, tablets, phablets, phones…yeah the list goes on and on)

2013: Opps….forgot (Check out these 10 Innovations in 2013 that improved the world)

As I wrote a few weeks back, I do think we are in a pause at the moment and 2014 will probably be the last year of it before we start up that next big adoption curve of wearable technology. Doug Johnson took my blog post and added his own thoughts (I love true blogging) which are worth a read.

Looking at my old prediction 2010 is where this current pause started. The iPad was released and over the past four years education has been adopting and thinking about mobile computing and its effects on teaching and learning. Just today I read about Los Angeles School Board approving $115 million to purchase up to 70,000 iPads. I do hope they are able to fulfill the board’s idea of what these devices are for.

Board member Monica Garcia said moving quickly was an educational imperative.

“The whole point of this program is to revolutionize instruction,” Garcia said. Low-income students don’t get access “to what is a part of all our worlds today…. I don’t understand how cutting back what’s good is good for kids.” (via 9to5mac)

Moving quickly is the only way to go at the moment, as the next wave of gadgets that will disrupt our world is around the corner.

CC Wikipedia

CC Wikipedia

Yes….wearable is coming. 2014 will be the year that we will see Google Glass become publicly available….we hope. But even if Google decides to hold off on the release (which I don’t think they can afford to do) there are plenty of other companies ready with products of their own. The Verge has a good run down of some of the best wearables they saw at the Computer Electronic Show that just ended in Los Vegas.

The first disruption I think hope we see in education is in Physical Education. Wearable technology…something like FitBit has great potential I think to revolutionize PE. When students and teachers can track their own physical activity throughout the day I think we can start looking at how this effects the PE grade. What if we could grade students truly on their physical activities. What if we could have a physical activity grade and students could look at their device and say, “Ah man….I have to go run a couple laps to get an A this week”. Pretty cool I think. True disruption to PE might be on the way.

I’m not sure what something like Google Glass will do to the classroom environment. I think it’s to early to tell and the technology is still really young. But I do know that what this really starts us towards is voice commands for everything. Business Insider gave its four big tech trends of 2014:

1. Consumer tech loyalty will die

2. Computerized assistance will become a thing

3. Gesture computing will become a reality

4. Retail stores will start to get personalized

I really like these four big trends and all of them, I feel, fall inline with wearable technology. My Moto X phone has become my computerized assistant. When I’m working it sits on the desk next to me. I never touch it but I give it commands. “OK Google Now” and it turns on and goes to work. I’m working on my computer, my phone is putting appointments in my calendar, setting reminders, creating lists, setting my alarm (makes my wife jealous). Motoy (Yeah…I named my assistant) just goes to work doing things for me. Math calculations, looking for directions, flights, hotels. Now….I try to imagine taking everything that I do with my phone and then putting that in a heads up display. Blows my mind what that will be like…and excites me at the same time (yes…I have a saving account for google glass….yes my wife knows about it).

When we’re talking wearable, gesture computing just makes sense….reminds me of the TED Talk years ago when we first saw what this world would be like….now it’s coming true. Easy to see how retail stores will take advantage of this…when you have a pair of glasses on and you walk into a store and it helps you find sizes, gives you reviews, knows you’re looking for a new pair of jeans because you searched them a couple days ago and locates them in the store for you. I don’t know…..this whole thing is going to be really cool and kind of freaky. Or is that really freaky and kind of cool?

So….we have one more year in a pause. One more year to get comfortable with mobile devices before they become wearable. I hope we take this year to really think about what true integration looks like so when these new devices do hit our schools we look for ways to integrate them at a level that once again changes education and not just upgrades it.

Questions for you:

Is your school starting discussions about wearable technology?

What happens when students bring it?

How do we prepare for it to come to our schools….because it is coming.

5 Comments

  1. Hi Jeff

    I’m going to skip over talking about Google Glasses. I posted my thoughts on Doug’s blog …and you can guess that I’m not at all happy with the thought of a room full of people looking at each but actually not looking at each other… :(

    But, I would like to say that I find it interesting that you bring up PE studies and wearable technology. We got our 9 year old a Jawbone up for Christmas. On a regular day at home during the holidays, he would be lucky to break 8,000 steps in one entire day. After his first day at school, I was shocked to discover that at 4:30pm, he had already taken 15,000 steps! He gets 1 lunch break and 2 recesses (and possibly a PE class). I was shocked at the difference.

    I would have thought he moved less in school and more at home. I emailed the PE teacher to let him know. This has big implications for the role of outdoor play at school and PE classes in schools. It’s also a lesson to me to be more cognizant about keeping my kids active during school holidays and especially during the summer.

    The school has done step-counting before with pedometers but have never sent them home. With the Jawbone Up, a big gap in information has been filled.

    This information could have a big impact on school timetables. It might move schools that have cut out PE and outdoor play to add them back. Doing so could save the nation billions in healthcare costs and maybe the government will be willing to fund PE and outdoor ed programs again.

    It will be interesting to see how wearable fitness devices disrupt PE. I like my Garmin watch as I can see my distance and times improve. Visible progress is a great motivator.

    ~Vivian

  2. Update: I asked my son and he didn’t have PE that day when he came home at 4:30 pm with 15,000 steps already. We looked at his stats and it seems one 40 minutes PE class is worth 5,000 steps.

  3. I am excited about wearable tech., but I can’t help but wonder how we of the myopic variety get to have these devices take over when we are struggling just to see with our regular glasses. Seriously exciting stuff at a time when schools are still trying to decide how to implement regular technology how will they cope with this new era? I am looking forward to the ‘seeing’ this.

  4. Hey Jeff,

    I am Jennifer a elementary education major at the University of South Alabama. I found your blog very informational and interesting the timeline was nice. I have never even heard of the Google glass “wearable” to be honest that blows my mind. But I love the idea of new technology especially being used in our schools to inspire young students.

  5. Hello Jeff,
    I am a student in EDM310 at the University of South Alabama. I’m not so sure how I feel about wearable technology just yet, but I do however like the idea about fit-bit. This could be a major asset in schools around the world.

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