Wearable Technology — The Next Big Trend in eLearning

Tim Elliott
Posted: March 15, 2017

Wearable technology — the term seems both futuristic and oddly normal. Technology evolves so quickly that we are becoming almost numb and unimpressed by so many changes. You or someone you know probably owns wearable technology such as an Apple Watch® (a smartwatch that operates as a small wearable computing device), a Fitbit® (wearable technology devices that measure activity), or has dabbled in the Google albatross: Google Glass™ (designed as a pair of eyeglasses that would project an optical display and work like a computer; production stopped in 2015).

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are here, and while it’s not fully embraced, technology companies are thinking of ways this wearable technology can affect eLearning. After all, imagine the possibilities of this new technology being used in training!

WearableTech

Here are some factors to consider regarding VR and AR in the eLearning arena:

  • Truly immersive virtual reality is creating the illusion of being present in a non-physical world.  Imagine how effective it might be to develop eLearning and deliver it by means of wearable technology, such that the learner is engaged and immersed in a simulated work environment or situation. Such immersion can take eLearning to a level that never was imagined before. An online safety course about working with dangerous equipment could literally jump off the page using wearable technology. The learner would face real-life situations without fear of harm.
  • Wearable technology can present learners with situations that truly test critical thinking skills — for example, trauma training in the medical industry. Designing VR or AR eLearning to test these skills have the potential of creating more employees who are more efficient and productive.
  • Wearable technology can affect the bottom line! With VR or AR technology, the actual classroom is gone. No more flying in trainers or physically bringing employees into a workshop. Granted, we have virtual instructor-led training today, but wearable technology takes this concept to a whole new level. Such technology could allow companies to train an unlimited number of employees. The types of interactions in such eLearning sessions might completely change breakout rooms, group discussions and team activities.
  • Wearable technology might well take training interactions such as breakout rooms, group discussions, team activities, scenarios and simulations to a new level. Instead of pointing and clicking in web-based training, the eLearner would become part of the action.
  • In work environments dealing with manufactured goods, wearable technology would allow the eLearner to view three-dimensional examples of the goods — allowing them to “move and use” the item. Product knowledge training as we know it today might be a totally different concept!
  • No matter the instructional design process your company follows, evaluation by testing and/or feedback is critical. Wearable technology can change the way the industry looks at and gathers such data and has the potential for eLearning. Test results, along with knowledge of employee satisfaction with the eLearning, could be gathered in real time.

So, what can you do to become part of this VR/AR world? Here are some suggestions:

  • Learn more about wearable technology as it relates to eLearning.
  • Stay up to date with the VR/AR movement.
  • Take classes, attend webinars and follow social media sites and apps that speak to the topic.

And possibly the biggest thing to remember: Make sure the content you develop today can be adaptable to the wearable technology of tomorrow!


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