Written by:

Holly Macdonald


January 28, 2015

This post is Part 2 in the series that I’ve started on Wearables for Learning + Development.

I am a huge fan of BJ Fogg’s work and find his behavior model such a useful way of thinking about training. As I reflect on the idea of wearables for feedback and monitoring of learning, it seems to me that it provides a great opportunity on the “trigger” side of his model that helps to convert activity into habit. I think it applies to learning situations as well, as we are hoping to convert learning into memory or at least develop behaviours that will provide scaffolding for learning.

Interestingly enough, I saw this today: This app tells you which of your friends stress you out, make you happy – the app provides you the opportunity to self-report about how you are feeling. In fact, after stumbling on the story, I did some searching and there are many mood tracking apps, such as:

When you consider the possibility of using apps to trigger your self-reporting or reflection, you open up some powerful insights to your own patterns and behaviours. Having the app on a wearable as opposed to just an app on your phone means you have the potential to incorporate physiological aspects, such as heart rate to the mix, which might give you additional insights that support your self-reporting or not! But that focus on how you are feeling or what your state of mind is might just give you a better view to what’s going on for you, holistically.

Imagine how this would impact your own learning:

  1. you decide you are going to learn something
  2. you sign up for training, let’s assume it’s e-learning
  3. you track your progress through testing, which is sent to you electronically AND you also self-report what’s going on in the environment
  4. your smart progress meter collects this data and begins to create a picture of how your learning is impacted by what’s going on around you, or within you (physically or emotionally)
  5. your smart progress meter provides you with tips on which times work best for you to study or practice as well as gives you reminders on where to find things.
  6. you refine your approach to maximize the learning

What about at an organizational level?

  1. you enroll employees/students in a course
  2. you choose to use a drip campaign or serialize your learning
  3. you develop an app that not only provides content, but also provides opportunities to practice (maybe it’s a form of gamification) and a self-reporting component
  4. you provide a personalized experience for each employee based not just on how they score on tests, but also on the kind of environmental data that your smart progress meter collects and analyzes
  5. now you have a ton of useful data about the efficacy of your training program.

We tend to treat learning as a completely cognitive event, but approaching it from this perspective means we look at learning (and delivering training) on a more systemic level. That is interesting to me. There are of course tons of privacy, security, ethical implications, especially on the organizational side, but it’s interesting to think about how wearables, the internet of things (IoT), data and the quantified self movement might provide for learning.

What are your impressions? Do you have ideas to share? I’d be curious to know what others think of this emerging area and the impact on learning.