What is Quantified Self?

Quantified self describes the phenomenon of consumers being able to closely track data that is relevant to their everyday lives through the use of technology. The emergence of wearable devices on the market such as watches, wristbands, and necklaces that are designed to automatically collect data are helping people manage their fitness, sleep cycles, and eating habits. Mobile apps also share a central role in this idea by providing easy-to-read dashboards for consumers to view and analyze their personal metrics. Empowered by these insights, many individuals now rely on these technologies to improve their lifestyle and health. Today’s apps not only track where a person goes, what they do, and how much time they spend doing it, but now what their aspirations are and when those can be accomplished. Novel devices, too, are enabling people to track their lives automatically, such as the Memoto, a camera worn around the neck that is designed to capture an image every half minute. As more people rely on their mobile devices to monitor their daily activities, data is becoming a larger part of everyday life.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • The most immediate use for this technology in my area (higher degree research) is for PhD students doing projects in the physical and sport sciences. However, there are obvious broader applications in anthropology and social sciences where non participant observation is a common research method. I could see an application in research about working practices, particularly around occupational health and safety. In research education (as opposed to research itself) the devices could be used for people to check and monitor their own working habits - particularly around hours spent on various activities like writing. This is a common productivity strategy for research students, which is currently done with a variety of analogue tools and timing apps - inger.mewburn inger.mewburn Feb 4, 2014 - Sam Sam Feb 23, 2014 agree - our diet and nutrition faculty want to use apps for self-study - slambert slambert Feb 24, 2014

  • Surely quantified self tools can add massive amounts of data to many types of research, as well as increase the amount of data that can be auto-collected (without the researcher or even participant having to be actively involved) and summarised - jnxyz jnxyz Feb 6, 2014 Using these types of devices can help aid students and teachers to talk about health, fitness and diseases - especially diabetes in children - Holly.Lu Holly.Lu Feb 19, 2014 agreed - it is helpful when the data you collect about yourself can be compared to national/safe averages, obvious applications to a range of Health Promotion/Comms strategies - slambert slambert Feb 24, 2014

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • Privacy issues are the obvious thing that is missing in this account - who is watching? Who is watched? How much control will we have? - inger.mewburn inger.mewburn Feb 4, 2014 - I'd definitely agree with Inger - especially around how the user can control what they share - jnxyz jnxyz Feb 6, 2014 really good questions! - Holly.Lu Holly.Lu Feb 19, 2014

  • I think an issue that is missing is that of the technologies we're talking about are going beyond just "self". The Memoto camera mentioned above for example - it would also captures others that came close to you, and do they give their permission? One of our researchers is looking into how to map social/information connections by recording the movements of an individual and who they come into contact with. If this is done as a research methodology within a company and everybody is aware it may be less problematic (but still challenging) compared with individuals wanting to track the social side of their 'self'. - slambert slambert

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative inquiry?

  • From my point of view, the most exciting aspect of this technology would be the use in low interference participant observation. Much research in this area relies on retrospective self report, whereas this technology has the potential to add tracking data and metrics to other forms of observation. I've written about this kind of researh with colleagues here http://eprints.qut.edu.au/59874/ - inger.mewburn inger.mewburn Feb 4, 2014

  • Would it be possible that such technology could inform educators if their students were mentally engaged with their learning, or bored/disengaged and similarly if they were stressed? In other words, to aid in retention and improvement of student progress? - slambert slambert Feb 24, 2014

  • Personal Data in the hands of the user can be a very powerful - the important piece is showing users how to best utilize this data to improve (x). This data can also serve as a terrific teaching tool for parents and educators - Holly.Lu Holly.Lu Feb 19, 2014 agree, use of data to feed self-reflection can be very powerful. - helen.carter helen.carter

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

  • I am aware of some research work at RMIT in the media and communications school in the physical sciences area - inger.mewburn inger.mewburn Feb 4, 2014

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