eLearning Trends

Using Mobile Devices, Wearable Technology and Augmented Reality to Improve Learning and Performance

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Recent advances in mobile devices, wearable technology and augmented reality (AR) offer some exciting opportunities for your students. This article discusses how using these technologies will support their learning and performance needs.

I Bet the Borg Are Great at Performance Support

Science fiction offers many cautionary tales about cyborgs and the dangers of becoming less and less human. The Borg from Star Trek is a great illustration of this as “being assimilated,” meant losing your humanity and becoming a servant of the collective.

For now, we don’t have to worry about cyborgs; however, this will change as groups are working on some very Borg like abilities. Today I’ll talk about why this is good for your students.

Being AR-similated

The Borg had implants that allowed them to augment their reality—these visual displays and interfaces provided each Borg with extra information. Recent advances in mobile devices, wearable technology and augmented reality (AR) are allowing us to explore some of these abilities. These opportunities are exciting as they offer new solutions for your students:    


Replacing Learning

Performance support has been around for some time and can be used to bypass the learning function. In it, tools like job aides, wizards, help files and other interventions allow your students the ability to perform their duties without having to internalize a bunch of content. Rather than storing knowledge into memory, your students can use performance tools to complete the tasks at hand. When they need to perform that task again, they just reuse the tools they need.

Some applications of how you might use these technologies to bypass learning are:

Supporting Learning

Besides bypassing learning, these tools can also be set up to support learning. Specifically these technologies are great at providing metacognition information to your students. This feedback is important as it tells them how well they are doing and focuses their attention on key information that they might normally miss.

In this regard, think about your subject experts and how attuned they are to their work. In general, subject experts are better at knowing how well they are doing and monitoring factors that affect their performance. Many of these factors may not be apparent to your normal students, but are critical to their success.


In addition, these devices can support learning by providing additional information about your content. A useful application of this is to use 3D objects that are animated for your students or can be manipulated by them. Other applications of this simulate events for their participation. This extra information can provide the repetition and practice that your students need to internalize your content.

Some applications of how you might use these tools to support learning are: 

Ghost Runner Leader board from OnTheGo Platforms on Vimeo.

Situated Documentary from Luiz Lopes on Vimeo.

Joining the Hive

Another performance augmentation the Borg possessed was their connection to the collective. Here each Borg was connected to the group, which allowed them to focus their efforts and thoughts as a whole. This hive mind processed, distributed and received orders in real time. As network connections and data profiles continue to grow your students will gain like abilities.

This offers great benefits to your students as it will improve your recommendation engines. In this regard, your students may not have the rich networks or expertise that is needed in order to judge what they need. By using context (what they have completed, what they are currently doing, what they are scheduled to do, …) you can use push/pull measures to provide content that is relevant to their immediate environments.

As people analytics become more developed, your abilities to tie recommendations to business goals and problems will also increase. In addition, these recommendations do not have to be limited to formal content as coaching and mentoring opportunities can be identified as well.  Here a student may receive an alert when interacting with an expert. This alert may guide them on questions and topics to ask based on a future assignment.

Some applications of how you might use these recommendations are: 


Resistance Isn’t Futile 

As the above illustrates, becoming less human has some advantages. These technologies will aid performance, support learning and provide recommendations to your students. Judging by all of this, resistance isn’t futile, it’s counterproductive.

As to Sci-fi and their warnings, another example of their concerns for our future can be seen here:  

Hmmm… maybe it’s a good thing that there is still time before all this happens.