Conference Sessions I Don’t Want to See about the Apple Watch

The idea for this post comes courtesy of John Spencer. He jokingly (I hope) postulated that someone was crafting a conference abstract for the latest device from Apple, during their big reveal of the Apple Watch yesterday.

ISTE proposals for Apple Watch

If you’re not familiar with John’s sense of humor, it typically lingers somewhere in that grey zone between “snarky” and “sadly true”. It’s a delicate balance, and one that his stream of friends couldn’t get enough of yesterday. Many educational technologists have seen the trend of Apple’s latest devices overtake the popular feeds and mindshare of the ed tech world, much to the delight, and detriment, of our community. First, the iBook ushered in a new era of Mac friendly educational trends (mostly good). Next, the iPod Touch was heralded as the “magic bullet” of personalized learning woes (some good, some pie in the sky). After that, the iPad took center stage (very promising, but lots of poor implementation). The one detrimental constant with this ed-tech hype train is that there’s always some “new shiny” device that many people believe will magically address all the shortcomings of the previous one. That is almost never the case.

The Apple Watch will soon be here (2015), and I’m sure some will attempt to use it as a device for personalized and innovative learning. I’m sure we’ll see some teachers thinking long and hard about the use of “smart watches” and “digital crowns” in their classrooms (the conversation has already started). It has apps, you can send your heartbeat to another Apple Watch user, you can track your movements (with a connected iPhone), and even send animated notes to one another. For better, or more likely worse (anyone still remember that thing called Google Glass), plenty of educators will find ways to convince districts to spend money on the devices.

In the spirit of John’s “hype train” acknowledgement, here’s a list of fictitious conference sessions that I pray will not pop up anytime soon:

  1. Common to the Apple Core – The Apple Watch for CCSS Mastery
  2. My Students are only a Heartbeat Away – Personalized Learning through Apple Watch
  3. Animated Emoji Lockdown – Wrestling with Apple Watch Distractions
  4. Apple Watch Smackdown (Literally, smacking Apple Watches out of people’s faces as they refuse to stop playing with their new gadgets. Alright, I might enjoy this session a little bit).
  5. The “Pulse” of Personalized Learning – Apple Watch in the Classroom

I joke, but there’s a hint of seriousness here. With each new gadget, gizmo, and piece of electronic wizardry, it seems as though the hype cycle within the educational community mirrors the fervor of the Silicon Valley crowd. I could blame it on the increasing number of popular ed tech personalities selling themselves out to start ups and ed tech companies, but that would be a far too simplistic (and somewhat inaccurate) viewpoint. More likely, it’s that ever present desire in all educators to simplify at least one of the thousands of issues and problems that teachers face in the classroom each day. I can’t blame them for trying….but sometimes, we need to be skeptical.




  1. Not nearly so clever as yours and @cogdog, but sure to come right behind the sessions you list is “How the Apple Watch (nee: wearable computing) will alter/change for-ev-ar/end higher education as we know it.

  2. How About:

    • Managing Student Attention and Focus with Electric Shocks
    • Student Fitness using Barometrics and Stair Climbing
    • Student Tracking and other Ninja Skills

  3. As someone who has presented a conference session on the possibilities of Apple Watch already, I had a good laugh at all of these. And yes, let’s keep the scepticism high so all are forced to integrate apple watch and other wearables for the right reasons 🙂

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