After much deliberation, I’ve dropped my Pebble smartwatch and jumped into the Apple Watch world. I received my Apple Watch yesterday and I’m still aflutter with the glow of a new piece of technology to examine and evaluate. Since the device is still so new, I’m not ready to announce any benefits or provide any in-depth reviews. I’d expect that sometime early next year.
My wife calls me a gadget guy. She thinks I’m always chasing the next device and looking for new technologies to incorporate into our lives. Although I can’t argue completely with my wife’s evaluation, I would provide some evidence to the contrary. While I do have an Apple Watch and I have been playing around with the Google Cardboard, I don’t have the latest iPhone (I’m currently using an iPhone 5S that is two years old) or have the latest gaming system (although I think Santa may be bringing one..). I have a brand new laptop (a MacBook Air) but our home computer is several years old (a 2012 iMac). Looking across the number of devices and technologies I own, I’d like to think that the jury is still out on whether I’m a gadget guy or not.
So, why did I jump into the Apple Watch? At my institution, I primarily teach instructional technology and I’m constantly aware of the shifting terrain of technologies used in schools. I think it’s part of my job to stay on top of “the next big thing” and find out what educational opportunities a technology may present. In my opinion, educational technology is often guilty of fad chasing. In some cases, technologies are adopted in large scale by schools and institutions before they’re fully understood. Devices will sit on shelves without being fully integrated or, worse yet, not pose the educational benefits that many stakeholders believed they would. So, I try to stay on top of the technologies being introduced and examine how they can support teaching and learning.
Each year, the New Media Consortium (NMC) publishes a Horizons Report to identify and describe emerging technologies likely to have an impact on learning, teaching, and creative inquiry in education. Looking at the 2015 NMC Horizons reports for K-12 and Higher Education settings, wearable technology is seen as having a larger roles in our educational environments in the not too distant future. With the ability to track sleep, movement and location, these tools provide opportunities to examine “the quantified self.” How will this information be used in educational settings? I think we’re probably too early in the adoption of wearable technology to know all of the possibilities but several schools nationally are examining how Fitbits can be used to curb childhood obesity. The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) also recently published a blog post on ways that the Apple Watch can be used in classroom settings. If it looks like the possibilities are limited, you’re right. We’re on the edge of wearable technologies becoming more prevalent and we’re only now examining these opportunities. The Horizons reports estimate that it will be three to five years before wearable technology is adopted widely.
If it’s so far away, you may ask, why did I buy an Apple Watch today? In the ISTE post on Apple Watches, the author (Maureen Yoder) uses the term TWEEPOT to describe herself. Appropriating Yoder’s definition a bit, a TWEEPOT is a “teacher who examines the educational possibilities of technology.” While the term sounds a little geeky, it certainly better captures how I see myself. I’m not a “gadget guy.” I’m a TWEEPOT.