The latest buzzwords on the street seems to be ‘wearable technology’. Gadgets like the Fitbit and the Nike fuel band are suddenly in getting us out of our chairs and shaking a leg (or arm) in an effort to bump up our exercise points.
Some will see this as a victory for gamification. The Nike Fuel Band in particular enables you to compare your daily activities to those of your chums, encouraging competition. But as a wearer myself now for the last two months, I’d say there is more to it than that. The key really lies in your understanding of the day-to-day feedback. After a while, you know what drives the thing – what works and what doesn’t. You actively (and even sub-consciously) start seeking activities that make it tick. A brisk walk perhaps. Taking the stairs rather than the lift. You feel guilty if your points start to fall behind and ‘hey presto’ you do something about it!
On a similar theme, I listened to Matthew Syed (author of Bounce: The Myth of Talent and the Power of Practice) at the recent Learning Technologies conference. He is suspicious of the concept of ‘talent’. Instead, he values ‘purposeful’ learning and practice as the keys to success. As a three times Commonwealth table-tennis champion, Syed can talk about this from some position of strength. He too though places a huge value on feedback – and the quality of that feedback in particular. In particular, he states, “If you don’t know what you are doing wrong, you can never know what you are doing right”.
Matthew – and our new wearable technologies – teach us a valuable lesson. They underline how important data and analytical information is in the process of learning. Perhaps it really is time to re-look at those learning management systems and their crammed reports and discover how learners can benefit from them. Can it be that this is really where to find the key to powerful learning, rather than floating by in some mythical social cloud? It’s worth thinking about.
Ascot Communications is giving away a Fitbit Flex Wristband in a draw to any learning professional that takes part in its learning management survey. To take part click here.