Oct 17 2016

Implementing Wearable Technology at Schools Boosts Engagement, Motivation

These best practices from a New Jersey school for students with disabilities outline four ways wearable tech can head to the classroom.

Long a staple of athletic workouts, wearable tech is now seen as a future influential piece of education technology.

Wearable tech has been identified as an advancement that will be growing more widespread in the next four to five years, according to the NMC/CoSN Horizon Report: 2016 K–12 Edition,

“Well-positioned to advance the quantified self movement, today’s wearables not only track where people go, what they do, and how much time they spend doing it, but now what their aspirations are and when those can be accomplished. This category also has potential to interest a variey of students in STEAM learning, as classroom activities can encompass multidisciplinary efforts of design, building, and programming.”

At the A. Harry Moore School at New Jersey City University, we have had great success using wearable technology to support the needs of our students.

The students at our demonstration laboratory school have low-incidence disabilities; they represent a small percentage of the school-age population.

However, the success we have had implementing various wearable technology is something that can be applied in variety of settings, including special education and general education environments.

Here are some of our tips and takeaways from our wearable implementation:

Fitbit Increases Student Motivation to Explore

Getting students up and moving is an important part of our school day. Integration of the Fitbit into our Adaptive Physical Education program has given our students added encouragement to move throughout the day. Counting steps and tracking movement has motivated even our most reluctant walkers to amble down the hallways and strive to make their daily step counts.

Myo Armbands Create Accessibility to STEM Projects

The Myo Gesture Control Armband, which is known for its mouse alterative and PowerPoint controller capabilities, has given our students the ability to control other STEM-related technologies.

Students who have difficulty with hand-eye coordination previously needed to control the Sphero using a tablet; they can now control not only the Sphero robots, but also can pilot Parrot drones, with just a wave of their hand.

Force Band Can Help Boost Motor Skills

When we traveled to the ISTE Conference in Denver in June, we were treated to a tour of the Sphero headquarters in Boulder.

We were introduced to a product called Force Band, which allows students to act like a Jedi knight and control the BB8 droid with the wave of a hand.

Since most of our students receive occupational therapy, we are working on potential OT workouts that students can use to practice sensory motor, cognitive, and behavioral skills using the tool.

Fashion with High Tech Add-ons Are Illuminating

This month we have Steven Fulop, mayor of Jersey City, N.J., coming to our school for Scannable and Wearable Technology Day.

Our students are planning a wearable fashion show using interactive textiles — or cloth that is capable of generating and storing power — with students from Toms River and the neighboring Snyder High School.

Using LilyPad Coin Cell Battery Holders and conductive thread, LilyPad LED’s will be sewn into dresses and illuminated as our students show off their wearable creations to our special guests.

Askold Romanov/Thinkstock

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