Mobile Learning

Wearables: an integral Aspect of Everyday Life?

Prof. Daniel GilgenTrier (GER), Dezember 2016 - "In the future, we will be supported in our real-world activities by information, analyses, and instructions from computers without perceiving them as such," explains Prof. Daniel Gilgen of the Trier University of Applied Sciences’ Intermedia Design Institute. At LEARNTEC, he will explain the wearable-supported mobile-learning scenarios he envisions in the future.

Which wearables are generally suitable for expanding mobile learning?

Prof. Daniel Gilgen: Mobile learning is becoming increasingly important as an opportunity for the remote use of mobile devices, and thus to generate variable and flexible knowledge, as well as the contextualization of the learning processes in the learner’s environment. Wearables are computer technologies that can be worn on the body or head. They connected to the user more directly and permanently than the laptops, tablets or smartphones used so far.

Whether and how wearables can be used to expand mobile learning depends on the desired learning task as well as on the sensors and actuators used by the wearables, i.e. the sensory perceptions used to communicate with the wearer. However, other things are decisive for the expansion of learning in this segment beyond the wearable’s functionality. An equally important issue is whether wearables can become an integral part of everyday life, that is, whether their use and benefit can be permanently integrated.

What are the intentions the designers of today's wearables?

Prof. Daniel Gilgen: Mental models play a decisive role in the conception and design of wearables, especially when it comes to implicit information processing. Mental models are a collection of assumptions about a system’s function and also include the users’ expectations in regard to a system. They are not stable but are rather subject to constant change, depending on the experience and preconceived notions a user has vis-à-vis a system. People interact with machines, computer systems or wearables according to their assumptions. Mental models are not only an inspiration for the design of wearables, but can also be used as the basis for a communication reference. Having said this, precise knowledge of the target group, its desires, and its experience is decisive for wearables’ suitability.

What would have to change for wearables to play a greater role in mobile learning?

Prof. Daniel Gilgen: The more wearables become part of everyday life, the easier it will be to use them for mobile-learning applications. In many cases, technical limitations such as short battery life are still an obstacle. Furthermore, wearable products are usually incompatible with each other and both installation and the systems’ applications still need to be optimized. This will change in the foreseeable future though, and user rates will rise concomitantly.

Do you see a concrete connection between "lifelong learning" and the development of wearables in the foreseeable future?

Prof. Daniel Gilgen: This trend can already be seen in the success of fitness trackers, and in the future, it will extend to other wearables as a matter of course. Development in the direction of ubiquitous computing will also foster this. We will be supported in our real-world activities by information, evaluations, and instructions that are provided by computers without our perceiving them as such. These activities also include "lifelong learning".

"Requirements for the Design of Wearables for the Expansion of Mobile Learning", Auditorium, 24 Jan 2017, 11:00-11:45