Apple Watch and the transformation of enterprise learning

Can wearables like Apple Watch help enterprises teach employees new skills?

Apple, enterprise, iOS, education, enterprise IT, Apple Watch, Apple Glasses, VR, AR

Driven by technology, learning is changing from being a process-based experience to becoming an experience-driven process.

Traducing tradition

Traditionally, learning took place in factory-like rooms in which rows of children sat at desks working with paper, pencils, a teacher, a blackboard and an array of facts.

What mattered at that time was to instil discipline and to learn basic numeracy, literacy and a selection of facts.

Technology means we need to comprehend context more than we must retain facts. Today’s children learn at their own personalized pace, thanks to use of iPads and other technologies. The blackboard is as likely (possibly more likely) to be inside your phone as it is on the wall.

The economic drivers for education have also changed.

We still need numeracy and literacy, but fact retention is becoming much less important than developing the critical skill to verify, analyse and draw conclusions from information you are exposed to.

At work and at school

As digitally native children enter the employment market, they are doing so in full expectation they will use the same technologies at work as they learned at school.

Digital enterprises are exploring lots of ways to bring these tools into employee training programs, and as AI augments an increasing number of human tasks it seems inevitable that technology will also be used to provide lifelong education to employees otherwise displaced by machines.

There are dozens of existing examples that prove this shift.

MOOCs, internal company wikis, video tutorials, even augmented reality (AR) are already in use across multiple enterprises. Wearables, including the Apple Watch, also seem set to become tools for this kind of learning.

How Apple Watch can help you learn

Cambridge University Institute for Manufacturing (IfM) is testing how to use wearables as tools to help humans learn new skills.

In one test they compared use of gloves equipped with haptic feedback, more traditional VR-goggles and paper-based instructions to learn and transact a skill. VR beat paper.

In another experiment, they tested smart glasses against smartphones as tools to help learn another task. In this case, they found those using smart glasses turned out higher-quality work.

As the technologies develop, these tools will help people acquire new mechanical, logical and communication skills, and should also help develop the “soft skills” we believe will complement the AI automation of Industry 4.0.

Enterprises know they get better results if they provide personalised learning experiences employees can access at their own pace.

They also know that as automation proliferates in the workplace, employees will become hungry to acquire new skills.

This also means education and personal development will become very important HR issues. 

In a fast-changing employment environment, enterprises that provide employees with educational empowerment will quite simply have a better chance of recruiting and retaining the best staff.

Those who don't, won't.

Apple as an education tool

This of course is where Apple comes in.

The enterprise markets are embracing iPhones, Macs and iPads for business use.

Their incoming employees like Apple’s products, and the ecosystem is sufficiently evolved to deliver best-in-class development tools for all manner of tasks, including learning tools and solutions.

Think how this could work. Your Apple Watch will provide haptic feedback as you attempt to master new physical skills, while your Apple Glasses will provide the AR components.

The smartphone will monitor your progress, develop suggestions and work to optimize your learning process.

These learning systems won’t be confined to mechanical skills. Anything that can be measured can be assessed.

I admit to having a little dystopian fear at this big picture, but should point out that as these learning tools become more accessible, human beings will enter a renaissance of personal development, accessible learning and skill acquisition.

Governments will want this to happen.

They will want to find affordable ways to develop and maintain flexible, self-motivated smart workforces.

Apple's technologies will have a substantial part to play in delivering that promise, if only because of their rapidly growing deployment in the enterprise.

Please follow me on Twitter, and join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2018 IDG Communications, Inc.

Shop Tech Products at Amazon