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Wearables and xAPI

June 16, 2015

If you read my blog, you’ll know I’ve done a series of posts on wearables:

These have mostly focused on the tracking/monitoring aspects, less on the content delivery side (from devices like: Oculus Rift, Google Glass, Hololens, etc). Questions around tracking will of course lead to L+D questions around how to capture and report on this type of information.

In the L+D world this has always meant the Learning Management System (LMS). The LMS has a limited repertoire, however and could not accommodate the distributed data that wearables would/could create. Enter the Experience API (xAPI). This handy protocol allows you to track based on statements (“Holly” “did” “this”), which increases dramatically what can be tracked and reported on. But as with many things in our ultra-convenient technology laden world, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should!

Let’s take an example from one of the earlier posts about wearables in manufacturing situations:

“There could be RFID chips or near field communications in the machinery, the product, or on their clothing to track activity, pacing, speed, weight, etc. Perhaps it’s using motion tracking to provide insights on their physical performance. This might ensure not only high productivity, but also provide feedback on techniques that may prevent repetitive strain injuries. There might also be sensors that provide insight on their physical responses – heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, etc. There are also gadgets that capture data and transmit wirelessly via bluetooth, which generates data and could provide an opportunity for trend analysis.”

What exactly would the organization want to know/track?

  • Motion tracking inputs?
    • Which ones?
    • How frequently would those be collected?
  • It would be helpful to correlate this with any workplace injuries.
  • It might also be useful to correlate with who completed what training

Take a step-back and think about not only WHAT you’d want to collect, but more importantly WHY do you want to/need to collect that data.

When you start to think this way, you can find touchpoints that would give you data that is useful. We’d want to know that the employee is getting the right training and feedback on their performance to not only ensure productivity, but also their health and safety. It would be great to deliver performance support at the point of need, during the task. An interesting example that I’ve seen recently is: http://www.yetanalytics.com/blog/2015/5/27/a-case-study-applying-xapi-and-iot-in-emergency-medical-training. As modern instructional designers, it behooves us to learn more about how we might imagine this and actually do this. Thinking beyond the training event (attended/completed a course) is a paradigm that we really need to shift.

How this actually comes together technically in terms of developing solutions and creating xAPI statements is still a bit of a mystery to me, but I’m keen to learn more. @FionaQuigs and I are hoping to expand on this by learning together, and she has started the conversation on the Logic Earth blog.

Check back in or watch on twitter for updates! And share any insights you have.

Some additional resources:

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