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Wearable computers – the future of workbased learning?

March 8th, 2013 by Graham Attwell



I have spent most of the week in Helsinki at a Learning Layers project Design Workshop (Pekka has blogged on the results on this site – I will add something about the process over the weekend)

But just for now, a side comment. At the workshop there was one stand showing off computer enabled glasses. They were not as cool looking as Google Glass (see picture above), but are available now. And a quick play suggest  to me these could revolutionise the use of technology for vocational education and training. These glasses just enabled you to video what is in front of you. And I see huge potential for quickly making all kinds of videos to show people how to do things. OK, you can do this now using a camera but the immediacy of being able to look at something, undertake a task and explain it at the same time is brilliant.

These glasses didn’t do much else. But of course Google Glass, and other products some of which are on sale now, allow you to see an internet stream at the same time. This unlock huge potential for augmented reality in many different work settings. A number fo years ago there was a project in Bremen with Airbus developing an augmented reality app to help electronic engineers who do the wiring for the Airbus. If I remember rightly it would show them an abstract of the wiring plans overlaid against the physical  working situation. As far as I know it is still being used. But the problem was that it was incredibly expensive to develop the hardware and software.

Google Glass, and other similar products will reduce these kind of approaches to a fraction of the cost. Already the use of smartphones is bringing Technology Enhanced Learning into the workplace and the working process. The new wearable technologies will accelerate this process and in my view could both blend working and learning and lead to an increased use of work base4d learning, rather than training in classrooms and workshops.

However, there are obviously going to be many issues. Already some workplaces ban the use of cameras. But with wearable computing it is going to be very difficult to see who is using these devices. So I suspect, at least at first, the reaction of many employers will be to ban them. This may well slow down their adoption and use for work based learning.



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