Last year as part of Flat Connection Certification, I learnt about wearable technology and how it impacted on social and global community and its impact on education at all levels.
My initial understanding at that time was that wearable technology was about augmented wearable headsets that are worn as part of gaming to enact a make believe scenario or those google glasses that were making a big noise on social media. I wonder what happened to those glasses. I haven’t heard about them for a while.
Some of the young teachers at my school came to me to see if I would be interested in joining them to purchase a Fitbit Heart Rate Monitor. Of course I said yes because I was interested in personal tracking and I wondered if there would be implications in teaching and learning by wearing a tracking device. I was particularly interested in tracking my own sleep patterns and in tracking my own activity.
My Fitbit arrived but I was sick and then procrastinated starting. The girls asked me daily, ” Where is your Fitbit?” On Thursday night I read the manual, charged the device and downloaded the Fitbit iPhone app
On Friday I activated my Fitbit. This involved syncing the device with the Fitbit app. On the app some of the extra tracking involved calorie intake, water intake and ‘GAH‘ weight.
So on the Fitbit app I set my first goal of 10,000 daily steps, 1500 mls of water and 8 hours of sleep.
Those of you who have known me for a long time will know that over the past decade, I have gained a few extra kilos and more. I have been concerned at the speed of gain and have been worried about diabetes as I am carrying weight around my middle. I had recently watched videos of myself in my thirties and can hardly believe the difference this past 15 years has been on my physical health.
Well the first day was marvelous. I walked to school and noticed all the native trees in flower. I love our native trees and stopped several times to watch the tuis.
At school I spoke with the girls and found out that over the past few days they were doing more jump jam with their children and this boosts their steps. As I said, I wondered what impact the Fitbit would have on teaching and learning, The children had to find all the teachers who wore one. Our children took ages to identify me. I am not sure if that was a good thing or not. But that is good too because throughout my first day the children would come to me and inquire where I was up to on my steps. See already I can see a maths activity happening here with graphing. That and motivation. I am competitive by nature and they kept telling me I had the most numbers. Let’s see if that lasts.
At morning tea discussion I said that the app had badges and who was up for a weekend warrior challenge. We set a date for that too. The app allows you to use social networking to find friends so that communities can be formed. At this stage I am not too keen on the bare all to the world idea but am happy to have a step competition.
After school I had a meeting at the university. The weather changed and it poured with rain and I caught a ride with one of the teachers heading home. On the way I thought, “Humph, well this is a great start.”
When my community meeting finished it was still raining and by now it was dark. I thought I would grab an Uber taxi home. While waiting for the taxi my phone died. That was it. I just had to suck it up and walk home and in the rain. On the way the Fitbit alerted me that I had achieved my steps goal but I did not care. It was late and I still had my geriatric kids to feed. I was grumpy, wet, hungry and tired. I got home and threw dinner together, hopped in the shower and got ready for bed.
After dinner with my parents I sat down and played with the calorie intake part of the app. I ended up using the computer as there were several food not in the system such as our Molenburg bread. I guess I could keep up that part of the Fitbit up. But the thought of tracking everything I eat is daunting, particularly the crackers and cheese part. Overnight I wore the Fitbit and saw that I had two broken patches of sleep. I reflected on my first days progress the following morning. I identified that I really need to drink more water. I usually drink about a litre at night but really I do not drink enough during the day. Therefore I will wake to having a glass before I get out of bed and cut back the coffee at school.
Where to next, I feel committed to physical improvement and am particularly keen at tracking how much I walk. I like the device and think it is easy to use. I love how it syncs with the phone and I can track my progress there too. I used to have a steps tracker. But that was useless because I kept losing the device. Being a gadget girl I wondered if I should have bought the iWatch. I will continue to observe the effects on our teachers and observe the impact on class programmes.
Already I am visualising a wearable device that tracks learning. The Fitbit device has a silent vibrator that alerts you to achieved goals. Imagine if as a teacher you send an alert signal to students wearing one about being on task. I know that some teachers are doing something similar with class Dojo and sending messages home to parents. I can image children completing learning goals and a device alerting them. Some wearable devices have a GPS tracking system. Tracking our children in real time has implications for us as educators. For example for school trips.
I can identify the negatives because I do believe that sometimes we need to be device free.
My questions to educators out there:
- Have you had experience with wearable devices?
- What sorts of learning can you identify?
- What pros and cons can you see for wearing a trackable device?