Fitbit Educational Philosophy

As part of my Masters in Innovation and Technology I am meant to be blogging about important developments in my scholarly thinking and Literature Review progress. I am supposed to be becoming knowledgeable in current educational theories and philosophies. However, instead of focusing on these very important areas I find myself thinking about a deceptively simple black band around my wrist. My latest tech toy- the Fitbit Charge, has been consuming my life this week. It is a device meant to promote a healthier lifestyle by recording steps, stairs, distance, calories and sleeping stats that you can view on a downloadable app.

I initially bought the Charge because I was curious about how many steps I took in a day at work as a Grade 1 teacher. I am seldom sitting down and was secretly hoping that I could reach the magic 10,000 steps a day simply by going on with my day to day activities and I would be off the hook for any other form of exercise. Unfortunately, I only achieve about 7,000 steps during a typical day so right away found myself doing laps of the kitchen while cooking dinner, pacing while on the phone and jogging up and down my stairs while putting away the laundry.

Words cannot describe how ridiculously happy I am when I reach the magic 10,000 mark and my Charge vibrates. I actually pump the air and let out a whoop of joy. I glow with pride when I receive an email telling me I have added a stair walking or distance badge to my collection. Interestingly, I see this same reaction in my students when they are playing a motivational app. My whole family and class have gotten into the spirit and they now regularly ask me how many steps I have and how close I am to my goal.

The best part of the device is how it constantly reminds me that exercise is important and that I need to make an effort to make it a priority in my life. Being a mom of two with a husband who travels constantly means that I always have something more important to be doing than worrying about my fitness levels. In the past I always justified my lack of fitness by falling back on the old “I don’t have time excuse”. The Charge shows me that every little bit counts. I can add steps any time of the day by going for a walk and talk meeting with a colleague at recess or jogging around the car a few times before getting in (not around the kids though- they find it embarrassing.)  I recently discovered that a number of students in my Grad cohort also own Fitbits so we have created a community group where we can see each other’s progress and compete for the title of top walker. There is nothing like seeing your name at the bottom to motivate an impromptu walk!

In fairness, I am only a week into using this new gadget and the excitement might wear off soon but so far, I am loving the effect that a simple motivator has had on my psyche. Analyzing my reaction to the positive reinforcement that I have received and seeing the dramatic lifestyle change that has occurred this week makes me think of my students and how I could use some of these same concepts to help motivate them in the classroom. Imagine the powerful learning that could occur if we were able to measure and set goals for how often we used math in our day (Mathbit) or how many times we used a powerful word in a conversation (LAbit).  I think the Fitbit might be on to something that perhaps isn’t so far removed from my Masters work after all. The Fitbit philosophy might become the next motivating, relevant and personal learning environment of the digital age.

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