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How will the Internet of Things (IoT) affect instructional design?

How will the Internet of Things (IoT) affect instructional design?

Category: eLearning

Some see the Internet of Things (IoT) as a framework for a futuristic world where everything is connected across and through the Internet.

I would argue that futuristic world is here, with objects controlled and surfacing data over intercontinental distances. This is no longer science fiction.

While the IoT already affects many aspects of our lives, the world of business training has been slow to embrace its potential. The business world has been leading the way on gathering information and using it to drive growth for some time, with approaches from the very basic loyalty card to more sophisticated in-store analytics. But business training still lags behind.

It is widely held that, the best training benefits from being scenario-based. I would imagine that a good number of instructional designers have spent many hours trying to develop believable and applicable training scenarios and the datasets that support exercises, to enhance our training materials. However, no matter how hard one tries there is always a feeling that… well… it’s not quite the real thing.

In our increasingly connected world, we seem to have overlooked the potential of training materials that incorporate real-time information from the Internet.

Features of Internet of Things information

1. Spatial existence (place)

2. Temporal existence (time)

3. Persistence (history)

These three features mean that the data that the IoT makes available can be anchored to a place and a time and that you can compare the current output to historical data. These are the three key elements of any data that we want to turn into information for a training course.

While this is clearly immensely useful in eLearning environments, I would argue that it becomes even more intriguing when you look at mobile learning. The learner can become part of the online network that includes data, training and learning content. We get a 360°, real-world, real-time environment where the learner can benefit from actual business information, rather than a prepared dataset. 

I am not saying that prepared exercise materials don’t need to exist - without samples a learner cannot gain the experience that will help them to interpret the real thing. The addition of IoT object input lets you take the next, natural step in training, especially where time-critical interpretation is a feature of expertise. You can take your learners beyond the safety-netted world of a made up scenario to the more urgent one of real-time information.

How to embrace the Internet of Things

Have a think about how your staff could benefit from the introduction of real-time data from IoT objects in your training. Learners will not always be able to engage with the ongoing events, but the beauty of mobile learning and IoT object logs is that you can maintain a history, so learners who are not available in real-time can replay the event and experience it at a time that works for them. They can see what is happening; see the protocols for diagnosis and management unfold and even question or comment on what they are seeing, through social learning.

One of the facets of business training that has, to some extent, hampered the development of IoT-driven scenarios is the structured nature of our tracking of Personal Development. The Learning Management System is on our network rather than the Internet and we track all training events through it. If your training is going to embrace the immediacy of IoT object data, you need greater flexibility in managing training events. A next generation Learning Management System and Experience APIs may enable real IoT integration and propel business training to the next level.

John Devaney
Author: John Devaney

This article was published by John Devaney on 21.01.2016. John is a former Principal Technologist at Agylia. His background is in teaching, lecturing and IT. He's currently working on his Masters Degree in Digital Learning at the University of Edinburgh.

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