Posted by Devin Vodicka on April 18, 2011

Do you have a fitbit?  I do.  It’s  a tiny device that can be worn on a belt clip or armband and tracks movement at all times.  When I get within range of my wireless sync station, my activity becomes available via an interactive website with a number of analytic tools.  These activity reports track calories burned, number of steps taken, net mileage, and a “performance level” of my movement for the day.  Here is one of my recent reports on a day where I was reasonably active.

Notice how the data is recorded in 5-minute increments.

The fitbit also creates a record of your sleep, including the number of times you awaken during the night.

Individual data can then be compared with peers to determine relative performance:


Finally, there is also a food log with numerous reporting options as well:

This abundance of data is typical of the potential that we have now in the digital age.  One tiny, relatively cheap device is generating detailed, drill-down performance metrics that can be displayed in a number of different ways to help me understand my own activity and performance.

Imagine the potential if every student had their own fitbit, tracking their performance in real-time with immediate feedback that can be used to help the students to understand themselves, set goals, and make adjustments in their own behaviors.  Now imagine that it wasn’t just tracking physical activity, but also the ability to apply learning in a meaningful way.  How would schools change?  How would teaching change?  How would kids change and how would society begin to change?