In the near future, your child’s field trip to the zoo may look quite different than it does today. For that matter, most learning experiences will be different than they are currently, as new technologies like wearable devices are poised to make a positive impact on education and how students learn.
Wearable technologies such as Google Glass have great educational potential and the ability to deliver content at teachable moments. For example, on a field trip to the zoo, students wearing smart glasses could simultaneously view interesting facts about a particular species as they watch the animal in the exhibit space before them. Or in the chemistry lab, students could follow step-by-step instructions as they populate in the corner of their eyeglasses, document findings as they are happening through digital voice-recording, and request live feedback if something goes awry, all while keeping their hands free to hold the beakers, test tubes and measuring devices.
Even English classes could be transformed and enhanced through wearables. For example, researchers at MIT’s Media Lab have developed a prototype sensory fiction vest which allows e-book readers who wear the vest to actually feel what the characters do. The connected vest features a set of networked sensors and actuators that change the lighting, sound, temperature, chest tightness and even the heart rate of the reader to match what the character in the book is going through so that the reader can experience the protagonist's physiological emotions.
While the sensory fiction vest may not launch anytime soon, the market for wearable technologies is poised for explosive growth in the coming years, as more and more concepts get funded and become reality.
But students today are already tapping into the power of mobile technology. Some are using smart watches to stay connected with teachers on last-minute assignment updates or get alerts of schedule changes, while others are accessing top-notch apps like BrainPOP, Tutor.com and Copia through Verizon Educational Tools to cater to their specific learning needs.
And teachers are already challenging young minds with interactive learning experiences in the classroom, using tablets to access thousands of resources that are unfeasible in paper-based environments, or refining problem-solving skills and tracking real-time progress. Outside of the classroom, teachers equip students with tablets to guide activities and learning while taking field trips.
Mobile technology has proven how it can help maximize learning and, just as importantly, cultivate student enthusiasm. The next frontier in education is with wearables, which are set to further revolutionize what’s possible in the classroom and beyond.