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Will 2013 be the year of the quantified self movement?

This post was written by Imogen Casebourne and first appeared on the Epic blog on 16th January 2013.

quantified studyAmongst the many gadgets on show at CES this year, there were a good number aimed at helping people measure various aspects of their lives.

Whether it’s sleep patterns, mood, body fat content, blood pressure, calories or vitamins consumed, there are people buying gadgets and apps that provide them with visual ongoing feedback in the form of graphs, as well as the opportunity to share specific information with friends and compare progress towards self-imposed goals.

You can understand the appeal – this trend involves a process of finding out and learning more about yourself. I’ve experimented with a few of these apps, and they certainly make you stop and think about how much you are eating, or how little you are walking (or perhaps that’s just me).

After quietly gathering steam for a number of years, the movement (sometimes also referred to as Health 2.0) seems to be on the verge of taking off in 2013.

As more and more data is gathered by people using these devices, the insights gained into public health trends could be considerable.

This is all very interesting, but what has it got to do with learning and learning technologies?

I’m especially excited by the potential for supporting entrepreneurial learners who are driving their own learning and development goals. These individuals set their own learning goals, study remotely using Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) or remote degree programmes and learn independently from a variety of sources.

Undertaking a programme of study can be challenging, and doing it remotely or at the same time as working can be tougher still. Devices that help learners to set and track goals, encourage them to share achievements with friends and colleagues or remind them of how they are doing could be a significant help to people who choose to use them.

These devices act like a personal, portable LMS organising your objectives and materials as well as giving you feedback on how much you are taking in and how well you’re retaining it. After a time, they should start yielding data on which study strategies are working best for you, which times of day yield the best results for you and how long you should aim to study at a time – helping you to better plan study times and set study goals.

Interestingly, some advocates of quantified self movement are already considering looking at additional areas such as focus and attention. Again, a means of gathering data on this area could be very important for people planning their own learning. It could tell entrepreneurial learners where they focus best and under what circumstances, and which types of media are most effective.

A ‘quantified’ learning app could tie into the exciting new benefits already being realised by multi-device learning and mobile programmes, which bring learning under the control of learners and allow them to undertake active study with meaningful feedback wherever they are and whenever they want.

The future is looking very interesting indeed…

Want to know more about the quantified self movement?

See the below articles: