Elearning! Feb-Mar

FEB-MAR 2015

Elearning! Magazine: Building Smarter Companies via Learning & Workplace Technologies.

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26 February / March 2015 Elearning! was first introduced to the U.S. Army way back in 1989, it was meant to assist soldiers in battle. Since then, a host of serious games have been introduced to help soldiers learn how to cope with certain combat scenarios. Wearables can take the learning possibilities presented by A.R. one step further. A new product called "Sixth Sense," which was developed at the MIT Media Lab, can digitally augment the fve natural senses. Worn around the neck like a very large pendant, the device includes a tiny projector and mirror that can shine an image onto just about any surface. It's not difcult to see that such a feature could be used to project training videos to employees, anywhere, anytime. MEMORY STORAGE One of the key functions of wearable computers is augmenting the user's memory. Rather than storing knowledge into memory, employees can use per- formance tools to complete the tasks at hand. When they need to perform that task again, they just reuse the tools they need. Tis beneft makes wearables ideal for presenting technical documentation to certain audiences like maintenance engineers. Engineers traditionally refer to paper-based manuals, but they are in- creasingly being replaced with electronic formats called Interactive Electronic Technical Manuals (IETMs). Wearable IETM systems may be efective on-the-job training tools as new engineers are guided through unfamiliar tasks without having to refer back to manuals on the workbench. Preliminary testing has shown that wearable computer-based IETMs can be highly benefcial despite numerous usability issues with the equipment. Initial participants in a research project by David Liu of the University of Queensland in Australia noted that looking up technical manuals on a wearable is far less tedious than having to constantly refer back to a desktop computer. Inexperienced users found the step-by-step guiding very helpful as training aids, especially photographic illustrations for each step. AN 'EYE' TO THE FUTURE As much as we hear and read about current technological advancements like the "Internet of Tings," Samsung's and Apple's smartwatches and Google Glass, they are in their infancy. And there exists a disagreement among tech analysts about how quickly wearable devices will be accepted. One camp believes that they will not make any widespread impacts in the way we work over the next decade. "It's probably going to take several more years for us to work through a lot of the technological issues, a lot of the issues in the ecosystem, a lot of the issues around the data science, and helping [people] understand the category and the benefits," Dan Ledger of Endeavour Partners has said. Another camp believes the wearable revolution could take shape much faster than the recent mobile revolution, which started in the early 1990s. Bill Wasik on wired.com notes: "Sensors and chip sets are cheaper now than ever, making it easier for small companies to incorporate sophisticated hardware into wearable devices. And while smartphone manufacturers had to master the tricky art of providing dependable mobile Internet service, wearable manufacturers can piggyback on those innovations using simple Bluetooth or other protocols to communicate with a smartphone and thus with the outside world. With all that prebaked hardware and wireless connectivity — and huge preorders from crowd-funding platforms like Kickstarter — it has become possible for tiny companies to dream up, build and sell wearable devices in competition with big companies, a feat that was never possible with smartphones." Google and others are fnding that drawbacks to wearables include users feeling a sense of isolation and non-users feeling disenfranchised. Te company has stopped selling its much-hyped Google Glass; tech analysts are predicting that it will be "reinvented" as a diferent product, perhaps a watch-like solution. Marcel Bullinga, futurist and author, thinks wearables will result in actual diminished work skills. "A major global megatrend is 'de-skilling.' Our children will learn less and achieve more. Of course, they will also sufer from major social media stress traumas." CONCLUSIONS Wearable technology is in its infancy. Many of its most obvious uses are consumer- rather than business-oriented. To date, few learning/training applications exist. But as the trend catches on, it's believed that developers eventually will come up with corporate and educational learning-related applications and the sofware. "It will be a world more integrated than ever before," notes Bryan Alexander, senior fellow at the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education. "We will see more work teams, study groups and collaborations." wearables and learning 'We're moving from a two-dimensional world to a three-dimensional world.' —Brian Krzanich, CEO, Intel Corp.

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