Halloween Health Week – 2 teachers, 2 learners, 3 dancers, 1 dog, a bike and the IOT

Can health data impact on educational performance and are we at a stage where affordable wearable tech can support a school-based project?

We’ve had many conversations over the last couple of months about the potential of wearables to impact on students’ health and also to underpin creative projects which include collecting and analysing personal data.  And to additionally support CPD for teachers.

What if students could make decisions based on their own data about what their optimum level of sleep was each night?  If school performance dipped could students be empowered to change health and well-being lifestyle choices through analysis of their routine and data?  Could data analysis of sleep patterns and exercise impact on future decision-making?  How would diet and fitness affect performance?


Data & The Internet of Things? Or something else? What else?

How about supporting a project with a headteacher using school data to identify a particular group of students in a particular year group in a particular subject and supporting progress through a project utilising wearable tech?  Girls in Y10 Science being just one example muted.

Over on the Hull schools’ blog I’ve summarised thoughts to support creatively visualising data collected by students, but the cost of personal and loan project devices has been a barrier to looking at a study on a larger scale to collect personal health data.

Until now.  Maybe.   The launch of the Xiaomi Mi Band has the potential to raise excitement in exactly this scenario.   Another espresso fuelled catch up with Rob Martin and another project plan comes to fruition; this time based around a $24 band and it’s potential with accompanying data.

And so an initial small scale project over half-term to inform and support conversations and planning in other schools is launched.  One to consider the impact of health and data.  One to support digital literacy and to consider digital storytelling.  One to build on previous data and visualisation projects using creative methods such as sonification.

A project to focus on how context is crucial to visualisation literacy and with that how a lack of context and dicey storytelling can skew the truth. Playing around with numbers in the name of creative visualisation is great for checking out new resources to showcase data such as Google Fusion Tables or Tableau, but it can also expand the remit.  What started as a project to consider wearables and health data soon evolved to encompass the Internet of Things.

So what kind of story emerges when 2 teachers and 2 learners capture their movements over one week in half term?

Here’s the raw data, but what’s the story?


Does an infographic help?

Health Infographic

Health Infographic

Lessons learnt:

The project threw up a host of issues and questions around the Internet of Things, privacy, sharing data and of course larger scale interoperability.  The Xiaomi band is great as a personal device although perhaps tricky if you find yourself without an Android Kit Kat device to install the accompanying app.  With a school level project it would be difficult to collate the collected data, particularly when other providers have considered the cloud to host grouped data.

Timing was impeccable with Mozfest and certainly reading Terms of Service by Michael Keller and Josh Neufeld.  Their ‘Unraveling Theory’ is a fundamental discussion point expanding from a project like this and one that has fuelled many a debate.

Wearable tech devices themselves are an interesting topic when considering to support student data projects.  Would students feel comfortable wearing what looks like a health tracker? Some thought the Xiaomi example disguised itself as a bracelet which was seen as a positive.   Research suggests that young people don’t wear watches so much so do they differentiate a wearable like the next stage iWatch as wearable or watch?


Even with such a small sample size it was important for those contributing to consider and decide on their own outcomes.  In the same way that we offer students in schools a range of tools to complete projects and support individualisation and personal creativity.

And this cohort of teachers and learners is obviously unique if we’ve flagged up a dog and a group of dancers.  You may also have spotted the Wainwright half-term walker!

To end on a positive, empowering students to act upon and share their own data through visualisations and well-being decisions has impacted as initially thought.

But only on a small scale.  Hopefully that’ll inform the bigger picture and bigger projects, though.

Health Popplet

Project ideas

Resources used:

Terms of Service by Michael Keller and Josh Neufeld

Xiaomi Shop for Mi Band


Google Fusion Tables

Tableau software for visualisations