Wearables and Embodied Learning

Wearable technologies bring new, exciting opportunities for the design of digital learning and communication. Just recently, I had the opportunity to present the fMOOC project (founded by the German Federal Ministry of Research and Education), in which we integrate wearable fitness trackers as an element of a digital learning environment for senior learners. My presentation focused on the experiential learning and embodied learning as theoretical frameworks for learning in this context.

Especially the embodied learning perspective offers an interesting approach to designing digital learning. The starting point for embodied learning is that learning including cognitive processes have roots in sensorimotor processing and result from the body’s interactions with the physical environment (Wilson, 2002).

Since I am exploring the potential of embodied learning and embodied cognition as a theoretical framework for designing Wearable Enhanced Learning (WELL) – see also our Special Interest Group – EA-TEL SIG WELL – I am very keen on connecting with researchers doing research in related fields. If you are interested in doing research / project together, I would be very glad to hear from you – best to get in touch is Twitter: @mediendidaktik – Looking forward to connecting and sharing!

Here is my SlideShare presentation from the DDD2015 Conference in Umeå, Sweden:

Wearable Enhanced Embodied Learning from Ilona Buchem

Thanks again @Isa Jahnke for organising this great event!

Further reading:

Wilson, M. (2002). Six views of embodied cognition. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 9, pp. 625–636.

EA-TEL Special Interest Group on Wearable Enhanced Learning

Design Challenge – Wearable Enhanced Learning (WELL)

Design Challenge – Wearable Enhanced Learning (WELL)

The Special Interest Group on Wearable Enhanced Learning (SIG WELL) at the European Association of Technology Enhanced Learning (EA-TEL), founded by Ilona Buchem (Beuth University Berlin), Fridolin Wild (Open University UK) and Ralf Klamma (RHTW Aachen) has announced the Call for Contributions for the Design Challenge titled “Envisioning Wearable Enhanced Learning” which will be held as a half-day workshop at the European Conference on Technology Enhanced Learning #ECTEL2015 – on the 18th September 2015 in Toledo, Spain.

The Design Challenge “Envisioning Wearable Enhanced Learning” aims at arriving at new and innovative designs enhancing learning through wearable technologies. Participants of this design challenge are encouraged to rethink the future of learning once wearable user interfaces are widely and easily available for any learner.

You can submit your abstract & design sample by 12th June 2015!

To enter this EC-TEL 2015 Design Challenge, submit a 500 abstract (approx. 2 pages) as PDF via EasyChair and design samples of own work (e.g. mock-ups, videos, prototypes) via our YouTube channel, by creating design requirements using the Requirements Bazaar or by simply pasting a link to your design sample in the abstract. Design samples help the reviewers to understand the solution, the design approach and visual presentation skills of participants. Design samples may be submitted as either PDFs or links to a web site. Submissions may include work from past, current and future projects or may just represent creative ideas independent of any project scheme or research program.

For more information about this Design Challenge please visit the SIG WELL website:


Here is the short summary of the theme:

Wearable technologies – such as smart watches, smart fitness trackers, smart glasses, smart glasses, smart objects, smart earbuds, or smart garments – are beginning to transform personal communications and offer new opportunities for learning and interaction. Since wearable technologies are likely to shape the future relationship between humans and computers, it is essential to look beyond the current perspective of how wearable technologies may enhance learning in the future.According to the recent forecasts (e.g. Cisco, Gardner, Deloitte) for 2018, portable technologies, including mobile and wearable devices, will form the basis of personal communications with the global wearable device data traffic increasing by over 60%. Wearable user interfaces are just starting to transform user experience, improving integration of technologies into everyday life, education, and work.

Wearable Enhanced Learning (WELL) is emerging to be a transformational step in the transition from the desktop age through the mobile age to the age of wearable, ubiquitous computing.

This session called “Envisioning Wearable Enhanced Learning” is a design challenge which aim at arriving at new and innovative designs enhancing learning through wearable technologies. Participants of this design challenge are encouraged to rethink the future of learning once wearable user interfaces are widely and easily available for any learner. Since most of wearable technologies available on the market today lack mechanism for providing meaningful learning experiences,  the grand challenge is to invent designs focusing on meaningful user engagement.


Digital Badges / Open Badges Taxonomy

Working on the taxonomy of digital badges / open badges is an interesting empirical and conceptual endeavour. I have been looking into different types of badges as part of the “Discussion Paper on Open Badges and Quality Assurance” on which I have been recently working in context of the European Project “Badge Europe” (Erasmus+, Strategic Partnership). Before the first draft of the discussion paper will be open to public for comments and edits, I would like to share the first draft of the taxonomy of digital and open badges. I have proposed a classification based on three categories – (1) content-related: what the badge represents, (2) issuer-related: who issues the badge, and (3) process-related: how the badge was achieved.

This is just a first attempt and I would be very glad to get your feedback on this. Thank you to the authors who inspired my work in this area – Carla Casilli, Hans PoldojaGrant MacDonald (follow the links to find out more about their typologies), and Nigel Lloyd who is working with us on the “Badge Europe” project.

So here is the first list ready for your comments, extensions and examples in this Google Table!

1 Content-related categories (what the badge represents)
1.1 Achievement badges (demonstration of achievements)
1.2 Capability badges (demonstration of knowledge, skills, competence).
1.3 Potential badges (indicators of future performance)
1.4 Participation badges (evidence of participation, e.g. events)
1.5 Membership badges (represents membership, e.g. club)
1.6 Commitment badges (attitudes, values, beliefs)
1.7 Encouragement badges (good work stamps)

2 Issuer-related categories (who issued the badge)
2.1 Organisational badges (issued by university, employer)
2.2 Team badges (issued by teams, groups)
2.3 Social badges (issued by peers, communities)

3 Process-related categories (how the badge was achieved)
3.1 Activity badges (based on single measurable learning activity)
3.2 Mission badges (based on a series of activities)
3.3 Assignment badges (based on completing a single assignment)
3.4 Composite badges (achieved by completing multiple assignments)
3.5 Progress badges (based on the progress on a given task)
3.6 Grade-based badges (based on formal grades)
3.7 Hierarchical badges (based on several levels)


Digital strategies in higher education

I am proud to announce that we are one of the winners of the digital strategy competition by the Stifterverband and Heinz Nixdorf Stiftung! As one of the 8 winners selected out of from 99 submissions from all over Germany, we will be developing educational digital strategies in all of our faculties at Beuth University of Applied Sciences Berlin. Beuth University is a university of “educational climbers” (e.g. 55% of our students come from non-academic families) and so the goal of our digital strategy is to use digital media to improve the study process and occupational perspectives, helping “educational climbers” become “educational winners”.

The focus of our digital strategy development is supporting diversity of students in all phases of the student life-line, which is a concept we developed to outline the different pathways students take before and with entering the university until leaving the university and beyond (e.g. alumni relations). Our three guiding principles are:

  • Using digital media to enhance educational quality, especially in terms of personalisation and development of self-competence, providing opportunities for building individual capabilities;
  • Using digital media to support diversity of students, especially in terms of diverse social, economic and cultural backgrounds, diverse competency levels and life circumstances;
  • Using digital media to help students prepare for connected digital life, especially in terms of the new requirements and conditions in digital economy and digital work.

An interesting part of designing digital strategies at Beuth University will be the Design-based Research (DBR) methodology to conceptualise and implement digital strategies iteratively in natural settings and at the same time to generate new scientific insights and frameworks for designing digital strategies in higher education.

You can find out more about the digital strategy competition by the Stifterverband and the 8 finalists here.

We will soon set up a website with more information about the process and outcomes of digital strategy development at Beuth University. You can view the films about the diversity of students at Beuth University on YouTube.


Learning and Diversity in the Cities of the Future

Learning and Diversity in the Cities of the Future was the focus of the 4th PLE Conference, which I was happy to host at Beuth University of Applied Sciences in Berlin. Now we the paper copy of the proceedings published by Logos Verlag Berlin can be ordered online.

The conference addresses the issue of smart cities, one of the key research priorities worldwide. The relatively new concept of “smart cities” has triggered a number of research and development programs, including the Horizon 2020 strategy of the European Commission, which has emphasised inclusive and sustainable growth as well as security and citizenship in the cities of the future. Discussions around smart cities have so far revolved around smart urban technologies and infrastructures targeting energy efficiency (e.g. alternative energy sources), smart transport (e.g. new mobility concepts), enabling technologies (e.g. nano-science, bio-science), but also understanding social, economic and cultural issues that are involved in the transformation of urban spaces into smart cities.

Since smart cities can be viewed as smart learning environments supporting people in their daily lives in a proactive yet unobtrusive way, learning and diversity of the citizens in the cities of the future becomes one of the key issues in relation to citizens operating in and shaping these smart technology-enhanced environments.

The papers included in the proceedings provide rich and valuable theoretical and empirical insights into learning and diversity in the cities of the future from the perspective of ever evolving Personal Learning Environments which may be conceptualised as smart urban learning environments.

The electronic version of the proceedings is available as PDF under CC BY-NC-SA here:




Open Badges for Online Reputation

The January 2015 eMadrid Seminar at Universidad Carlos III was dedicated to “Badges for the Recognition of Learning in the Digital Age”.

I was honoured to be one of the speakers together with Michael Amigot (IBL Studios Education), Daniel T. Hickey (Indiana University) and José Cuerva (Instituto de Tecnologías Educativas y de Formación del Profesorado). You can view the eMadrid Semianar program here.

My talk focused on using Open Badges for the recognition of learning and online reputation in context of my recent projects:

  • Beuth Badges, in which we develop a badging system for Beuth University,
  • Credit Points, in which we have applied Open Badges to recognise learning and enhance online reputation of migrant academics,
  • Badge Europe, in which we develop a network of stakeholders,an Open Badge MOOC and a European infrastructure for Open Badges.

Based on the rationale that Open Badges can be used to recognise and communicate learning which takes place not only in formal settings (which is believed to make approx. only 10% of all learning) but also in informal and non-formal settings (which makes most of learning), I discussed badges as the missing link in the “open education ecosystem”. My argument was that Open Badges may provide value added to the current credentialing system especially in view of  the demand of unique skills and talents on the occupational market place.

You may view the recording of my talk on Vimeo.

Below are also my slides from SlideShare:

CfP: Wearable-technology Enhanced Learning

I am glad to announce the following Call for Papers:

Special Track on Wearable-technology Enhanced Learning (WELL)
at the Immersive Learning Research Network Conference iLRN 2015
July 13-14, 2015, Prague, Czech Republic


Topic of the Special Track

Wearable technologies – such as smart watches, smart glasses, smart objects, smart earbuds, or smart garments – are just starting to transform immersive user experience into formal education and learning at the workplace. These devices are body-worn, equipped with sensors and conveniently integrate into leisure and work-related activities including physical movements of their users.

Wearable-technology Enhanced Learning (WELL) is beginning to emerge as a new discipline in technology enhanced learning in combination with other relevant trends like the transformation of classrooms, new mobility concepts, cyber-physical systems and the transformation of industries like logistics and industrial production.

This special track is the off-spring of the new SIG WELL in the context of the European Association for Technology Enhanced Learning (EATEL). The SIG would like to use the opportunity to present itself as a new platform for scientific and industrial knowledge exchange. It is supported by EATEL and major EU research projects in the field like Learning Layers and Tellme.

List of Topics

  • Industry 4.0 and wearable enhanced learning
  • Learning Analytics for Wearable technologies
  • Wearable technologies for health and fitness
  • Wearable technologies and affective computing
  • TEL applications of smart glasses, watches, armbands
  • Learning context and activity recognition for wearable enhanced learning
  • Body-area learning networks with wearable technologies
  • Data collection from wearables
  • Feedback from wearables
  • Learning designs with wearable technologies
  • Augmented Reality Learning
  • Ad hoc learning with wearables
  • Micro learning with wearables
  • Security and privacy for wearable technology enhanced learning
  • Collaborative wearable technology enhanced learning


  • Full paper submission: March 1, 2015
  • Notification of authors: April 15, 2015
  • Full paper submission: May 15, 2015
  • Date of the conference: July 13-14, 2015

All accepted full papers will be published with IOS Press as part of the workshop proceedings of the Intelligent Environments conference (IE’15). All other accepted contributions will be published as online proceedings linked to an ISSN number. Authors of selected papers will also be invited to extend their contribution and to be published in a special issue of the Transactions of Future Intelligent Education Environments journal (TOFIEE).

Track chairs

Ilona Buchem, Beuth University of Applied Sciences Berlin, Germany

Ralf Klamma, RWTH Aachen University, Germany,

Fridolin Wild, Open University, UK

Special Interest Group

The EA-TEL Special Interest Group on Wearable-Technology Enhanced Learning

Please visit us on: http://ea-tel.eu/special-interest-groups/well/