Mobile Learning and Wearable Learning

Mobile Learning and Wearable Learning

According to Mike Sharples (Father of mobile learning) “The focus is not so much on the device but on the mobility of the learner, and this mobility of the learner is the key factor of mobile learning”.

Desktop computers were predominant in the early 90’s, and by the end of the decade laptops helped learning become mobile. The 21st century heralded the advent of extensive use of smartphones and tablets. These devices increased the scope of mobile learning, despite the relatively small size of their screens. And now, it is the wearable technology which is creating shockwaves in the learning industry. This brand new paradigm is changing the way we look at mobile learning and is here to signal the dawn of a new era by giving unprecedented mobility and freedom to the learner. Let’s have a look at a few wearable learning devices.

Google Glass: This device displays information in a smartphone-like hands-free format that can connect to the Internet and gather information, images, videos, etc. (Source:

Smart watch: A smart watch is a wristwatch which does much more than just displaying the time. It has the enhanced features of a smartphone and enables tasks like calculating, playing games, and much more.

Augmented Reality: See through wearable Augmented Reality (AR) displays (Head Mounted Display or HMD) don’t obstruct the user’s line of sight and allow a non-intrusive, hands-free, large screen experience. They are therefore a desirable alternative to make full use of the available computing power of smart devices. (Source:

Why are these devices significant?

Wearable learning devices are gaining significance in the education and business worlds as they are making life easier. These devices are portable and comfortable. These devices are laying a path for the ubiquitous connectivity of the learners to the content, co-learners, and instructors. Developers are working towards reducing the weight of these devices. They are also trying to reduce the heat emanating from the gadgets and resolve issues related to the longevity of batteries.

Do they impact instructional design strategies?

Wearable devices impact instructional design strategies primarily because of 2 important factors – screen size and limited attention spans.

  1. Screen size: When it comes to devices like Google Glass or Smart watch, the size of the screen is very limited and hence the instruction needs to be bite- sized. Creation of bite-sized learning materials which are no more than ten to fifteen minutes in duration requires good skills in content chunking and presentation of ideas. Only then it leads to the development of short and focused learning modules.
  2. Limited attention spans: As the wearable devices are small in size, they result in limited attention spans. Users can’t look at the screen to read text for long hours. Hence, this kind of delivery method demands high-end visualization of the instruction. Visualization and graphical work such as line diagrams, animations and videos take good amount of development time.

By keeping these instructional design strategies in mind, one can deliver effective learning through wearable devices. To learn more about wearable technology, click here

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