Penn State researchers to investigate Apple Watch as learning tool

in Apple Watch edited July 2015
An upcoming research program to be conducted by Penn State University staff is exploring the effect wearables like Apple Watch have on human behavior, with an eye on turning the device into a learning tool.

Ben Brautigam, manager of advanced learning projects at Penn State's Teaching and Learning with Technology program, told Government Technology plans are in place to run a number of experiments looking into ways Apple Watch can boost student achievement, especially as it applies to self-regulated study.

"The thing with wearables is that these are highly personal devices, even more personal than your smartphone," Brautigam said. "We can take this customized point of view to provide recommendations to students to enrich certain aspects of their learning."

Penn State associate professor of educational psychology Rayne Sperling, who is spearheading research in cooperation with TLT, is currently deciding how to integrate Apple Watch into the study. Currently on the list of potential implementations are study reminders and personal trackers, as well as interactive content for generating user success metrics.

"One way that prompts can support students' awareness of their own learning is through modeling the types of questions students should ask themselves," Sperling said. "Further, our scaffolds can prompt awareness of whether [the student] understands content and will also provide strategy suggestions."

Strapped to a user's wrist and connected to iPhone, Apple Watch is an ideal testbed for receiving said scaffolds and providing instantaneous feedback to research prompts. An exact UI design has not been fleshed out, but Brautigam said yes/no buttons, sliders and even voice messages are alternatives.

Depending on the study's results, which will pit Apple Watch against other technology platforms, wearables could one day become a staple of self-guided learning.

"If it does become prevalent, I think we'll have a leg up here because we've been sort of investing in this and exploring this since the inception," Brautigam said.


  • Reply 1 of 5
    suddenly newtonsuddenly newton Posts: 13,812member
    I got mine! Still awesome. Let the haters post FUD.
  • Reply 2 of 5

    Interesting, given that many universities are banning wearing of Watch (and smartwatches in general) in testing and other cases.

  • Reply 3 of 5
    2old4fun2old4fun Posts: 238member
    Interesting, given that many universities are banning wearing of Watch (and smartwatches in general) in testing and other cases.

    Being banned from the room during tests does not relate to use as a learning tool in daily life.
  • Reply 4 of 5
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 5,042member
    Interesting, given that many universities are banning wearing of Watch (and smartwatches in general) in testing and other cases.

    Yeah I was going to say researching cheating that is.

    The thing I find funny, and I attend college before there was portable computer technology other than a calculator. Even then you were only allow to bring yourself, a pencil and a calculator if required to the test, nothing else was allowed everything else would be provided by the professor. I keep hearing today how schools are cracking down on using things like phones to cheat. The rules have not change only you and a pencil is allow.

    At the time I had an HP 15C Calculator which was a small computer at the time and it could perform matrix math, and I had a class requiring matrix math to solve problems. It would take people 10 minutes to solve a problem by hand I could get it done in about 2 minutes. Well the Professor knew some of us had these Calculators and he was currently not allow to ban their use, so he made some of the problem which did not have any numbers you had to solve using symbols, needless to say, it leveled the playing field pretty quickly.
  • Reply 5 of 5
    am8449am8449 Posts: 376member

    If done well, a study reminder tool on an Apple Watch would be a boon for students.


    I've used a flashcard app that reminds me to review vocabulary that I'm learning at optimal intervals so that I don't forget them, and it worked very well. If this could be done on a broader scale for studying in general, I think it could help students retain knowledge much better than the usual cram before the test method that happens so often.

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