Smart Watches in Learning

Can Your Smart Watch Teach You?

Delivering training materials to different sorts of devices is becoming pretty common stuff nowadays, but have you thought about delivering training to a learners smart watch?

Technology vs Function

The first question we ought to ask ourselves when delivering training materials via a small, wearable technology such as a watch is “Why would we want to..?”. Well, let’s start with the obvious things first.

How Not To Do It

We’re not advocating that we should deliver full training courses via a watch. If you want a full training course then there are better ways of doing it.

You could deliver training materials to a watch in a number of different ways, but currently you are going to be limited in a number of different areas:

  1. Screen size. Watches have small screens, your content needs to fit them. Responsive design helps, but isn’t the be all and end all.
  2. Interactivity. You’re not going to get a huge amount of interactivity from most watches. Yes/no, and maybe some simple zoom effects might be all you can hope for. It does depend on the watch, but none of them are going to be as whizz bang as a phone, laptop or PC.

The key rules with smart watches are going to be simplicity and focused content.

How Could You Do It?

Many of us will be familiar with the forgetting curve. This is the idea that if you don’t receive regular “booster” events, you’ll forget whatever it is that you have learnt. See figure 5 on this useful post to see a picture of how this could work. So, imagine a use case where a learner has been on a full training course. It doesn’t really matter how this training course has been delivered, eLearning, classroom, whatever. The key thing is they have done the course. They are now moving into the forgetting zone.

70:20:10 gives us lots of pointers around how we can overcome this and also specifically mentions the use of mobile devices. BUT, in the context of smart watches we are not advocating simply adding more learning to the teaching and trying to deliver this through a watch. We are advocating the addition of booster events and making them part of the teaching.

How Can Smart Watches Help?

The average smart watch collects or has access to a whole heap of information, such as:

  • Geo location
  • Heart beat
  • Step count
  • Etc.

So, could we use this information to deliver targetted booster events at a time when the wearer is going to be most receptive? We think the answer to this is a resounding “Yes!”. Here’s the reasoning:

  1. A booster event doesn’t need to contain a lot of new information. It’s going to be a short piece of information that has already been given that is simply there to remind the learner about what they have already learnt. Some LMS’s such as Litmos already have built in Boost features that help you create this content.
  2. Using data from the watch could help you time the delivery of the content. For example, if you had given the learner a course that applied to a certain location, e.g. a loading bay. As the user approaches the location the device could give them a booster event such as “Don’t forget to wear your high visibility jacket here”. Or, if the heart rate was very high the user may be doing something strenuous and not overly receptive to learning, so delay the booster event for a while.
  3. Proximity to other people e.g. coaches or mentors could be used to prompt a learner to check in with them and maybe ask any questions they may have on a topic.


We think smart watches could be used better for delivery of booster events after a full training session and that they could be an aid in the 70:20:10 model.

We’d love to hear your ideas on other ways in which smart watches could be used for learning. Let us know in the comments below.





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