Apple Watch Changes my College Syllabus

Apple Watch will be arriving any day now.  One place it is going to cause a ripple will be classrooms all across the world.

 

Two much anticipated features are going to be very nice to have, but will require some academic regulation.  Apple says "Start a whole new kind of conversation".  They are most certainly correct, this device has the potential to create some powerful and yet very subtle ways to communicate.

The two features that have me, and I suspect many savvy educators taking notice are Sketch and Tap.  As Apple describes this conversation style...


 

Say it with feeling.

You don’t even have to use words. The Digital Touch features on Apple Watch give you fun, spontaneous ways to connect with other Apple Watch wearers, wrist to wrist. (previous heading & text from Apple.com)


Personally in my private life, I'm going to like these two features.  I do however have some concerns about their potential abuse in the classroom.  In particular during testing situations.

Let's start with the feature known as SKETCH.

(IMAGE FROM APPLE.COM) Wearers can send a sketch to friends who also have a watch.  Notice that the sketch 'evaporates' almost as soon as it appears.

(IMAGE FROM APPLE.COM)

Wearers can send a sketch to friends who also have a watch.  Notice that the sketch 'evaporates' almost as soon as it appears.

 

Wearers can send a sketch to friends who also have an Apple Watch.  Notice that the sketch 'evaporates' almost as soon as it appears.


The second feature to be concerned about is TAP

(IMAGE FROM APPLE.COM) Wearers simply tap on the watch face and the person on the other end of the conversation feels those taps on their wrist, as if someone had touched their wrist.

(IMAGE FROM APPLE.COM)

Wearers simply tap on the watch face and the person on the other end of the conversation feels those taps on their wrist, as if someone had touched their wrist.

 

Wearers simply tap on the watch face and the person on the watch sase and the person on the other end of the conversation feels those taps on their wrist as if someone had touched their wrist.  It is most important to understand that this is not like the phone vibrations we are all used to at this point.  You will not hear the now classic phone vibration 'buzz'.  This communication is silent and very subtle.

So, imagine this scenario between two students both wearing Apple Watch while taking an exam.

Student #1 taps to get the attention of their friend.

Student #2 feels the tap and looks at their wrist.  They see ?37? appear as a sketch which immediately evaporates, leaving no evidence.

Student #2 realizes they've been asked for the answer to question #37 and taps twice on their screen to indicate that the answer is B.

Student #1 answers B on the exam.

There is absolutely no record of the transaction that just happened.

I suspect we will soon be seeing updates to instructors syllabi all across the country.  We already ask students to turn off phones during exams.  Instructors are about to start asking students to remove their watches before exams.