Wearable Technologies for Education | 5 Examples (2019)

wearable technology in education: benefits, limitation and examples

Wearable technologies are computerized devices that can be worn on the body. They can be worn as:

  • Accessories (e.g. watches, necklaces, bracelets, glasses, etc.),
  • Clothing (e.g. smart vests), or
  • Implants (e.g. hearing devices, human microchips).

This post introduces 5 Examples of wearable technologies that can be used for teaching and learning in classrooms and beyond.

Bonus Material: Benefits and Limitations Infographic

Before we start, don’t forget to check out the “benefits and limitations of wearable technologies in education” infographic at the end of this article. You can jump to the infographic at the end of this article by clicking here.

Read Also: A List of 107 Effective Classroom Teaching Strategies

1. Smart Watches

Smart watches are probably the most widely available types of wearable decides. They have become widely commercially available in the 2010s when they became advanced enough to become a smartphone for the wrist.

Common features include:

  • Speech-to-text: speak to the smart watch and allow it to convert your words into text for a text message, email, or notes on-the-go;
  • Text-to-speech: allow smart watches to read out information from websites, emails and text messages to you.
  • Voice recognition: your smart phone can listen to your voice and answer questions for you, just like Alexa or Siri.
  • Personal organizer: Your watch can remind you of upcoming meetings, set warning for you and enter data into your calendar on your request.

There are far more features than this – you can install all sorts of apps into your smart watch!

Uses in education:

  • In-situ education: In-situ stands for ‘in the situation’. Smart watches can be used by students when learning our in the world. A great example of this is from a study by Shadiev, Hwang and Liu (2018) who got English language learners to use smart watches to get feedback about how to pronounce words. This gave the students a scaffold (learning support) while learning in real life situations. Mid-conversation, they could talk to their watches to get the words they were looking for! I’ve talked more about their study in this post on educational technologies.

2. Fitness Tracking Bands

Fitness trackers will shortly become obsolete due to the versatile functionalities of smart watches. Nonetheless, fitness tracking bands do remain one of the most widely used wearable technologies of today. They are usually worn around the wrist to track bodily functions.

Common features include:

  • Tracking heart rates: Upload data onto your computer about your heartbeat during exercise.
  • Tracking steps taken: Set yourself goals for how many steps you will take in one day.
  • Tracking distance traveled: Track how far you have run, biked, walked or even skied in a day.
  • Tracking sleep patterns: analyze when you go through deep and shallow sleep patterns in a night.

Uses in education:

  • Learning about the body: Students can do exercise and analyze their body’s responses to the exercise to learn about the body. Lee, Drake and Williamson (2015), for example, conducted an interesting study where students compared data from two types of exercise to see which is more strenuous on the body. The students in this study compared elliptical trainers versus stationary bikes and found the elliptical trainers required more cardiac effort.

3. Smart Glasses

The most well-known smart glasses are the Google Glass range. Smart glasses project data onto your eyeglasses so that you can quickly access data in your immediate vision.

The cool thing about smart glasses is that they’re always on and subtly in the corner of your eye. While earlier smart glasses like Google Glass appeared clunky and made you look like a cyborg, newer models like the one in the video above simply look like any pair of reading glasses. With these newer models, you can simply use your eyes, voice commands and the flick of the head to answer calls, call up recipes and accept or dismiss important incoming data like text messages.

Common features include:

  • An always on heads up display: Constant availability of information that would make the need for a phone in the pocket or a dedicated screen on the wrist irrelevant.
  • Augmented reality: Use smart glasses to navigate you around the city. They will show you if you’re walking in the right direction and where to turn.
  • Recording heads-up view for review: While this presents a thousand personal liberty questions (who wants to be subtly filmed all the time?), people using smart glasses could record their actions and review them later to see where they went wrong!

Uses in education:

  • Modelling: Knight, Gajendragadkar and Bokhari (2015) report on an expert transmitting footage of a procedure to learners in real-time so the learners can get a bird’s eye view of how the procedure takes place.
  • Telemonitoring: The above authors also explain that learners can use smart glasses while conducting a procedure. Then, the trainer can monitor by watching a projection of the trainee’s bird’s-eye view. In these situations, educators can use guided practice to slowly release control to apprentices.

4. Virtual Reality Headsets

Virtual reality headsets transport a user into a virtual world. The user places the headset over their head with a screen in front of their eyes. As they move their head, They can look around a three-dimensional virtual world. Here, learners can manipulate and move around the 3D space to get a virtual experience of being transported to a different time and place.

Common features include:

  • Virtual worlds: Transport yourself into different worlds by downloading environments to your headset. Then, navigate the worlds by turning your head.
  • Smartphone-enabled headsets: Modern VR headsets often link into your smartphone (like the one in the video above) to decrease the overall cost to entry.

Uses in education:

Freina and Ott (2015) identify four uses for VR in education:

  • Simulating places from the past (e.g. historical battlefields, the prehistoric era, etc.)
  • Simulating places hard to access: (e.g. Mars, overseas locations, or the deep ocean)
  • Simulating dangerous or high stakes situations (e.g. warzones, medical procedures)
  • Simulating ethically dubious situations (e.g. for trainees not yet ready to take the reins of an airplane, or accessing crime scenes)

Here are some examples of VR studies undertaken:

  • Geography education: Minocha, Tilling and Tudor (2018) used virtual reality to take students on a virtual field trip to the great barrier reef to explore coral bleaching.
  • History education: Fabola & Miller (2016) used VR headsets so students could explore what St Andrew’s cathedral looked like in the 14th
  • Astronomy: Hussein & Natterdal (2015) used VR headsets so students could explore planets in the solar system.

VR is also great for game-based learning which I talk about more in this post.

5. Brain Sensor Headbands

Brain sensor headbands gather data about brainwaves. Put the headband on, go about your life, then upload the data to a computer to analyze how your brain worked throughout the day.

Common features include:

  • Measurement of brainwaves: Brain sensor headbands use ECG sensors to track when you’re using certain parts of your brain. It tracks changes in the neurons and can show when you are putting strain on your mind.
  • Calibration for Individuals: As the video above shows, the headbands need to be calibrated to the specific needs of the individual.

Uses in education:

  • Focus training: Brain sensors can track when your brain is under stress and when it is relaxed. Attallah and Ilagure (2018) argue that brain sensors like Muse (see video above) can be used to train students on how to relax their minds. Muse also uses a gaming mentality to give people awards for learning to focus and relax the brain effectively.

wearable technology in education: benefits, limitation and examples

References

(If you want to know how to reference correctly in your essay, check out my ultimate guide to referencing and my guide to quality sources to use).

Lee, V. R., Drake, J., & Williamson, K. (2015). Let’s get physical: K-12 students using wearable devices to obtain and learn about data from physical activities. TechTrends59(4), 46-53.

Freina, L., & Ott, M. (2015). A literature review on immersive virtual reality in education: state of the art and perspectives. In The International Scientific Conference eLearning and Software for Education (Vol. 1, p. 133).

Minocha, S., Tilling, S., & Tudor, A. (2018). Role of Virtual Reality in Geography and Science Fieldwork Education. In: Knowledge Exchange Seminar Series, Learning from New Technology. Belfast.

Hussein, M., & Nätterdal, C. (2015). The benefits of virtual reality in education-A comparision Study. Unpublished Dissertation.

Fabola, A., & Miller, A. (2016). Virtual Reality for early education: A study. In International Conference on Immersive Learning (pp. 59-72). Springer, Cham.

Knight, H. M., Gajendragadkar, P. R., & Bokhari, A. (2015). Wearable technology: using Google Glass as a teaching tool. Case Reports2015, bcr2014208768. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bcr-2014-208768

Shadiev, R., Hwang, W. Y., Huang, Y. M., & Liu, T. Y. (2018). Facilitating application of language skills in authentic environments with a mobile learning system. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning34(1), 42-52. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcal.12212

Attallah, B., & Ilagure, Z. (2018). Wearable technology: Facilitating or complexing education. International Journal of Information and Education Technology8(6), 433-436.

shares

Chris Drew, PhD (aka The Helpful Professor)

DO YOU WISH YOU WERE A STRAIGHT-A STUDENT?

Let me show you how with my FREE 7-day email course. It’s a step-by-step blueprint for essay writing success.