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Future Tech: Proximity Beacons in Learning

Context-relevant information delivery is nothing new – think posters in toilets reminding you to wash your hands, or signage around train stations pointing you to local attractions, or the widely ignored ‘Please clean up after your dog’ signs (Grrrrrrr!).

This month, as part of our Elearning Beyond the ‘Next’ Button course, I’m looking at proximity beacons (and proximity beacon APIs) – and whether they just the latest evolution of delivering information: Does the fact they can use the devices without the need for learners to really ‘do’ anything to benefit from them and that we all now habitually carry with us, mean that they’re here to stay?

Whilst QR codes are still prevalent, they never really had an impact in the learning arena due to the multiple steps the end user needed to take in order to actually use them: first understanding what they actually were, downloading an appropriate app in order to be able to ‘read’ the code; then actually being on the lookout for a QR codes, before finally taking their device out and activating it.

Then came Near-Field Communication (NFC), which required slightly fewer steps as it was just a case of touching against an NFC object. But it still required the user to know that there was an NFC object there, and still required them to take their phone out of their pockets.

On the face of it, proximity beacons would appear to have neither of these problems, which gives slightly better promise. But is all as it seems: are they really as faultless and simple to use as we may be led to believe, or are they are not without their issues too?

Join the Conversation

If you’re already on the course, you’ll be able to access the level straight away.  If you’ll be joining us for the first time, use the Getting Started level to orientate yourself with the course, then you’re free to access any open level in any order that you please (we’ve already looked at virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR), wearables, and artificial intelligence (AI)).

Later this month, we’ll also be joined for a live Hangout with Geoff Stead – ex-Director of Qualcomm’s Mobile Learning Team, and one of the leading experts on Proximity Beacons – to talk in more detail about how organisations are making use of the tech for L&D purposes.

In the meantime, head on over to the course hub page to catch up on all the latest participant chat and previous live event resources.

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