As part of my research at Forrester, I’ve spent a lot of time getting to know companies developing technology solutions for K-12 and higher education. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) like Coursera and Udacity give students around the world access to high-quality courses for free or at a fraction of the cost of a traditional university. Platforms like Inkling, Kno, and CourseSmart make distributing, purchasing, and consuming digital textbooks more convenient and engaging. Supplemental content sources like Khan Academy and TenMarks give students resources to learn at their own pace.
It’s worth thinking seriously about how these solutions will change the nature of education. Many of the changes are positive. We expand access to education across the globe. At the same time we increase scale, we also enable more individualized, self-paced learning, presumably at a reduced cost. For example, millions of students can dissect a cow’s eye in a virtual biology lab without the incremental cost of buying more cow’s eyes or scalpels or formaldehyde - and they could do it again if they miss something the first time. Through analytics embedded in texts, apps, and diagnostic tools, teachers will get real-time feedback and can make more-informed decisions about how to teach.
In the past few days, Wired, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal have all published reports of Apple creating a smartwatch -- a multifunctional wrist-based wearable with a curved glass display. At Forrester, back in 2011 we predicted that wearables would be one of the next important form factors in personal computing. In fact, we put a date on it: “Wearables will broaden from health and fitness to more verticals in 2013,” we wrote in the report, and in a follow-on report last April, we predicted that wearables would be a battleground for the platform wars between Apple and Google. An Apple smartwatch would fulfill that multifunctional vision we have for wearables, broadening the category beyond health and fitness.
Though at Forrester we think the market for fitness wearables is relatively small, the broader potential for wearables is huge. Body-generated data could be applied to any domain, such as relationships, productivity, gaming, shopping, personal safety and identity validation, just to name a few possibilities.