It has been suggested that wearable computers are likely to impact higher education in the near future. However, many universities have not turned their attentions on this venture for varied reasons. Despite this fact, various US and UK universities have rolled out pilot studies in this area and they intend to introduce this system into their teaching and learning systems soon. As a way of evaluating the viability of introducing these devices in AA university’s teaching and learning processes, the university has initiated a feasibility study. The university’s ICT manager has been tasked with conducting the study and writing a report on the same. In conducting this study, the ICT manager evaluated the current literature on wearable computers. The key areas that he evaluated included the areas these devices have been widely used, the advantages and disadvantages of using these devices in higher education and some of the devices that can be used in the teaching and learning processes. After evaluating these areas, the following was established. First, it was established that wearable computers are current used in various fields ranging from health to military. Second, it was established that if the university is to integrate these devices in its current teaching and learning processes, then it is likely to cut down some of its operation and maintenance cost of its computer laboratories. Third, despite the fact that the university is likely to benefit significantly from this technology, it was established that the university is likely to encounter some ethical challenges emanating from these devices. In response to these findings, it has been recommended that the university should establish some mechanisms under which these devices are to be used as well as revise its current computer common course. In addition, it has been recommended that the university should constantly review the measures it will establish for using these devices.
Table of Contents
AA university is a privately owned university based in Rockhampton, Australia. Of late, the university has been considering integrating wearable computers in its teaching and learning processes. However, due to lack of enough literature on this issue, the university has been hesitant to initiate this program. Two months ago, the university’s vice chancellor, professor Lydia, asked the ICT manager, Mr. David, to carry out a viability study on the program.
For the last few years, computer technology has witnessed tremendous developments that have resulted to development of wearable computers. Many computer experts have hailed this development and they expect it to impact higher education in the near future (Markovic & Rakocevic 2014, p. 402). However, very few universities have integrated wearable computers into their teaching and learning processes. At the same time, very little literature has been published on this field because the issue is relatively new. In spite of this fact, AA university intends to integrate wearable devices in its teaching and learning processes so that it can enjoy the benefits of these devices.
In response to the above strategic move, this report intends to attain four main objectives.
- Explore wearable computers and their possible impact in higher education
- Evaluate the various ways these devices can be used to enhance higher education
- Evaluates the possible advantages and disadvantages of these devices in higher education
- Recommend what the university needs to do before rolling out the project
In evaluating what the university needs to do, the ICT manager has evaluated the current literature on wearable computers and identified the various sectors currently utilizing these devices. In addition, the manager has evaluated the specific tasks these devices perform in the sectors that currently utilize them. Apart from evaluating these aspects, the manager has evaluated the specific areas that university can utilize these devices and the possible shortcoming before recommending what the university should do to counter those shortcomings.
The first part of this report starts by defining the various terms used in the report. The second part evaluates wearable computers and their uses in various sectors that currently use them. The third part evaluates the various ways these devices can be used to enhance higher education while the fourth part evaluates the advantages and disadvantages of integrating these devices into higher education. Lastly, the fifth part concludes by evaluating the report’s finding together with making possible recommendations that the university should evaluate as it implements the project.
Wearable computer: these are computer enabled devices that can be carried easily by wearing them or by attaching them to the body.
Google glass: is a special type of spectacle worn with intentions of capturing videos when need arises (Li et al. 2015, p. 55).
The wearable computers and their uses
The term wearable computer covers a variety of portable computer devices that are body worn or attached to the body. These devices are designed to be worn incessantly and to be context-sensitive (Buenaflor & Kim 2013, p. 104). Despite the fact that majority of these devices have been in existence since the first one was discovered in 1966, new devices are ever coming up. Accordingly, new devices will continue to be developed as technology advances. Some latest wearable computers include smartwatches, Google glass and iButtons among others.
In healthcare, Google glasses are particular used to capture surgeons among other medical practitioners as they conduct operations on patients. This practice eliminates the obstruction of the cameramen in medical theatres. In a classroom set-up, the use of Google glass can eliminate such obstruction from cameramen (Popat & Sharma 2013, p. 216). Accordingly, lecture capturing can take place with minimal obstruction. In health and fitness, wearable computers are used to control obesity, manage stress, track physical activities as well as monitor heart rate and sleep patterns. In emergency services, fire-fighters use these devices. Those in entertainment industry use these devices to sense emotion contexts of the people in their entertain halls so that they can make adjustment to their music when necessary (Buenaflor & Kim 2013, p. 105). In military, these devices enable soldiers to engage in battles effectively.
One important aspect of wearable computers is that they enable users to remotely access electronic resources whenever they want to do so regardless of distance barriers. Accordingly, in comparison to other computer devices, these devices give users freedom of motion. Despite doing all they can do, people using wearable computers should be aware that they should not intrude into the privacy of other people. In particular, if these devices are to be integrated into higher education, students should use these devices cautiously (Arthur 2013, Para. 7). For example, students should not capture lectures unless they obtain permission to do so from their instructors. Furthermore, they should understand the legal framework associated with using each device.
Enhancing higher education using wearable computers
At a university level, wearable computers can be used in the following areas. First, in the medical faculty, Google glass can be used to capture surgeons operating patients and the captured videos can later on be used to teach students. At the same time, instructors can use Google glass to capture practical sessions in laboratories and use the videos they capture to teach students (Li et al. 2015, p. 57). Students on their part can as well capture those practical sessions using Google glass and use their videos to do practical on their own. Second, students can use Google glass among other wearable computers to capture lectures and use the videos they capture to revise on their own after the lectures are over. However, students should do this when necessary and when instructors are aware of it, but this should not hinder students from capturing lectures when they want to capture them. Third, during the lectures, students can be encouraged to carry their smartwatches with them to lecture halls as opposed to carrying their laptops. If students were to be encouraged to do this, then the disturbances they usually cause switching on their laptops and connecting them to power would be minimized. At the same time, this could enable students to access electronic resources with ease whenever they need to access them (Arthur 2013, Para. 10). As a result, lecture rooms would be extended beyond their physical confines.
In terms of advantages, wearable computers have the potential of transforming higher education in the sense that they enable students to access electronic resources with ease. At the same time, they enable instructors to access these resources as well with ease thereby extend lecture rooms beyond their physical confines. In spite of the fact that the current digital system enables students and instructors to access the said resources, the current digital system does not equal wearable computers in many aspects. First, unlike the current digital system that restricts the cost of maintaining the digital system to universities, wearable computer devices transfer some of this cost to students (Peris-Ortiz, Garrigos-Simon & Pechuan 2014, p. 128). As a result, the university is likely to reduce the cost of maintaining its digital system if it is to adopt the new technology. Second, wearable computer devices enable students to work with technologies they are familiar with and comfortable using. Third, these devices are more productive in terms of enabling students to understand concepts than traditional method of providing students with their own laptops or desktop computers. Apart from doing this, wearable computer devices will improve the way instructor present information to students during lecture time. These devices will also improve the teaching processes among the disabled students because they will enable them to learn at their paces. At the same time, these devices will assist disabled students in their learning processes by compensating their disabilities (Labus et al. 2015, p. 49). As a result, disabled students joining the university will be comfortable with the university’s teaching and learning processes.
Despite the fact that it is advantageous to introduce these devices into teaching and learning processes, it is quite obvious that students are likely to use these devices to cheat in their examinations. According to Chugh (2015, Para 3), students can send and receive short messages using their smartwatches. In addition, they can browse for answers online or even communicate with one another during examination time using their smartwatches. In the extreme case, students can use their smartwatches in language translation. With this in mind, it is obvious that if the university is to incorporate wearable computers in its teaching and learning processes, students are likely to misappropriate these devices (Dixon 2013, p. 67). This means that proper measures for ensuring that students do not misappropriate wearable devices need to be instituted before the project can be rolled out in the university’s education system. It also means that measures that will be instituted need to be reviewed from time to time because new devices will develop with time thereby introduce new challenges.
Apart from advancing examination malpractices, wearable computers can isolate students that use these devices from other students. In most cases, this can happen if students are to form two distinct groups. That is, the group of students that cannot afford these devices and another group of students that can afford the devices. In another instance, some students would be obsessed with these devices thereby they would not concentrate in classes while other students would rely on these devices to the extent that they would not attend most of the lectures (Arthur 2013, Para. 9). As a result, there would be isolation among some groups of students.
The purpose of this report was to evaluate a number of issues that relate to wearable computers with an aim of evaluating the viability of introducing these devices into university’s teaching and learning processes. After evaluating a number of issues, the report has established the following. First, the report has established that if the university is to integrate wearable computers in its teaching and learning processes, then it is likely to cut down the cost of operating and maintaining its computer laboratories. This is in relation to the fact that students will be encouraged to use their own computer devices thereby stop overlying on university’s computer laboratories. Second, the report has established that wearable computers are currently used in various fields ranging from health to military. In relation to this finding, the report has established that various universities are currently conducting pilot studies in relation to this issue and some of the pilot studies have demonstrated the viability of this practice. Accordingly, the university can introduce this new system of learning in its current system without fear of the unknown. Third, the report has established that wearable computers will enhance teaching and learning processes beyond what the current stand-alone computers have done. In particular, the report has established that these devices will enable students to utilize the learning resources and devices they are familiar with and accustomed to. Accordingly, students are likely to learn with ease in contrast to what they have been doing with the current stand-alone computer devices.
Essentially, the report has demonstrated that if the university is to introduce wearable computers in its teaching and learning processes, then students are likely to benefit significantly by exercising independence on whatever they do. In addition, the report has demonstrated that these devices are likely to improve the quality of education among various groups of students. More importantly, the report has demonstrated that disabled students will benefit significantly because the devices will assist them in learning; thus, all students will benefit significantly. Apart from students benefiting, the report has demonstrated that the university together with its management team will also benefit from the new system of learning. Accordingly, this report has achieved its objectives in the sense that it has identified the various areas that wearable computers are currently used as well as their possible applications in higher education. Apart from identifying these areas, the report has evaluated the advantages as well as disadvantages these devices might bring with them if the university is to incorporate them in its teaching and learning processes. More importantly, the report has been able to identify the various ways that students can misappropriate these devices and the possible remedy to the areas of weaknesses. As a result, if the university is to introduce this new system of teaching and learning, the university is not likely to encounter major shortcomings.
In relation to the possible negative effects that wearable computers may bring with them if incorporated in the university’s learning and teaching processes, this reports recommends the following.
During examination time, the university should ensure that students do not carry any of the wearable computer devices with them to examination rooms. In particular, the report recommends that invigilating teams should ensure that students do not wear watches whether traditional ones or the latest ones as they sit for their examinations. If the team is to do this, then students are unlikely to carry smartwatches with them to examination rooms thereby the incidences of examination malpractices using these devices will be eliminated (Chugh 2015, Para 3).
In order for the students to use some of these devices such as Google glass in their practical lessons, there is the need to train them how to use these devices. With regard to this issue, the report recommends that the university should consider introducing new concepts in its computer common course and make this course mandatory to all students joining the university.
Given that some of these devices interfere with privacy, this report recommends that the university should establish the terms and conditions under which students should use wearable computers. In particular, the report recommends that the university should ensure that students understand when they should use their devices and when they should not use them. If the university is to implement this recommendation, then the incidences of privacy intrusion will be minimized and if possible they will be eliminated (Norman 2013, Para. 11).
Apart from instituting privacy intrusion measures, the report recommends that other measures need to be instituted so that students can understand how they can use their devices appropriately. This is in relation to the fact that students might be tempted to misappropriate their wearable devices if proper regulatory measures will not be instituted. Aware of this fact, the university should develop stringent measures as it introduces the new system of teaching and learning in its education system.
Once the measures have been instituted, this report recommends that the university’s council should keep on reviewing those measures and updating students on the new measures. The university’s council should do this because technology in wearable computers is ever changing meaning that new challenges keep on coming up and they need to be addressed.
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