by: Dan Larson-Knight Colegio Internacional Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela Wearable technology is here, and it comes in different forms, watches that have computing power are already here, and with an even greater foreseen impact, Google glass is being released this coming November. We all know that this will walk into our classrooms the minute it hits the shelves, so what, if anything do we do about this new technology? At the AASSA conference this was highly discussed in sessions, and it gave me flashbacks to the discussion over the smart phones and devices. In some conversations, educators were quite concerned about this new technology, while others were getting very excited for how this could transform the way we teach. When it comes to the conversations that were giving me the flashbacks, the reason for this was that the arguments were very similar to those that were taking place, and in some cases still are taking place regarding smart devices. Educators were voicing concerns about being filmed while teaching, about their students being distracted, and some came right out and said, “there’s no way I’m letting a student in my classroom wearing that type of technology.” On the other end of the spectrum, some educators were getting excited about the potential this technology could bring into the classroom, the potential for quickly researching, recording, and seeing information without having to take the time to input it into their devices manually, but now they could do it verbally without having to even touch a device with their hands. The potential to build augmented reality throughout the school that students could absorb and learn from while walking around campus, bringing learning to every corner of the school.
Take some time to think back on how shifts have taken place in our schools over the last few years. We have seen our schools go from only having computer labs, to having technology in the classroom. We have seen students go from writing out information we put on the board, to students taking out a device and taking a picture, we ourselves now do this same practice while attending conferences. In my current environment we’ve had the opportunity to be supported in innovative initiatives through our innovative technology grant, where staff can apply to receive funding in innovative ideas, and this has led to a large spectrum of different projects and initiatives throughout the school. We have iPads in elementary and early childhood, we have BYOD in middle and high school, compared to the computer lab model as the only form of technology available in school. This has already been a huge shift, a shift most schools have already transitioned to, with the majority of schools doing this in a five year period or less. Now that we’re here, we must ask ourselves, what’s next? A favorite quote of mine in regards to change is as follows, “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new” Wearable technology is already here, I challenge you to focus your energy building on this new form of technology that our students will be wearing into your classroom.
How can this technology push forward the 3 major shifts needed in education? Intrinsically motivated deeper learning, greater student agency, and a seamlessly integrated tech-infused curriculum? When it comes to intrinsically motivated deeper learning, wearable technology encourages this by allowing students to search, and prompt information displayed instantly without having to look down at a device. Additionally Google Glass prompts information about topics and objects without prompts from the user, hence a deeper style of learning, when information is being sent to the user automatically. This also allows for greater student agency, as students are able to verbalize their questions towards any topic through their wearable devices, and they also come with voice recognition, which enables them to operate in busy classrooms. Additionally, when students explore any subject, they will be able to direct their understanding based off of what interests them regarding the topic at hand. As far as seamlessly integrated tech-infused curriculum goes, wearable technology takes this shift to a whole new level. It does so by eliminating the student’s need to access a device that requires them to maintain a device that they aren’t wearing. To elaborate on this point further, it’s the difference between a teacher saying, ok students, take out your ‘device’ turn it on, go to this page, to, “ok students, search for…” This is a significant difference when it comes to seamless integration. This difference will transform the way students learn, and the way we teach.
This educator is already sold on the excitement front. Much like the smart devices, this is another amazing tool we have coming into our schools, and from what I’ve heard, and seen so far, embracing this new tool has so much potential, compared to trying to block it out. Taking it to the next level, this is a tool that we as educators should be pushing our schools to invest in so that we can learn, and benefit from its potential right out of the gate.