iBeacon and Education: Bringing Beacons to the Classroom

iBeacon and related technology has a role in the classroom. But while it’s great to have a cool technology for the classroom (acetates on overhead projectors were probably once considered the height of interactive teaching) it’s just a gadget if there isn’t well-considered andragogy or pedagogy.

I’ve spent the better part of my career exploring education, how we learn, and how this changes our behavior awareness or capacity as people. So it’s a great delight to share this guest post by Jody Baty, a Senior Consultant and Project Manager at Roamable, who examines how beacons can be used in educational settings.

iBeacons for Learning – Part 1

The first thing worth understanding about training is that classroom-style learning simply does not work very well. The fact of the matter is that anyone in a classroom style learning environment forgets 75% of what they’ve learned after just 2 days.

We’ve had this information for a long time – over a hundred years, in fact. Hermann Ebbinghaus proved it in 1885 with what he called The Forgetting Curve:



Since then, it’s been proven and re-proven by study after study.  That’s dismal information for companies who have taken pride in creating informative training programs that encompass everything an employee needs to know (aka ‘the binder’). If they’re not getting what they need out of training, how does an employee become competent?

 Mostly, they do it by trial and error on the job.

mLearning to the Rescue

Mobile learning (or mLearning) can support an employee in a hands-on environment with a resource that gives him the right support at the right time. With mLearning, he can pull out his mobile app and get training, retrieve a job aid, or connect with an expert in real time. He can consult his app as he completes the task to be sure he’s doing it right, and he has the information available again if he needs it in the future.

The trick is how to get the right support at the right time?  Unfortunately a lot mLearning is just classroom style training ported to a mobile device. What’s missing is context.

And that’s where iBeacons come in. They’re all about providing context.

Adding iBeacons to the mLearning Mix

iBeacons have the potential to provide contextualized learning based on a user’s proximity. To demonstrate how this might work, we developed a simple concept app called Beacon Learn.  Its purpose is to initiate a dialogue with clients as to how they might consider using iBeacons to support Training and Learning in their organization.

The Beacon Learn app demonstrates four Use Cases:

  • Context Sensitive Training – delivery of the right content, to the right user, at the right time.

  • Job Aids – step by step guides presented to the user with compliance tracked in a Learning Record Store using the xAPI.

  • Expert Locator – using their iPhones as a iBeacon, experts can make others aware of their presence and availability for mentoring.

  • Emergency – although not really a training function, the ability for users to alert others of an emergency on the shop floor is a very useful feature that can be provided using a combination of iBeacons, M7 motion coprocessor and indoor mapping (iOS 8).

Use Case #1 – Context  Sensitive Training

Login Screen.pngHome.png


After initial login, the user is presented with four possible options to assist in on the job training/performance support. When a user selects Training, all training content relevant to the user and within the Far Proximity is presented, although it is inactive. Content is activated when the user advances to within the Near Proximity, as below:

Landing.pngIn Range.png


If the item is selected, training and support options specific to that user are presented.  They can watch a short demonstration video, access a step-by-step job aid, determine their competency with a quiz, or file a help ticket.

Printer Training.png

All interactions are tracked and reported back to the Learning Record Store using the xAPI. This is often an important point for corporate learning departments who are interested in using learning analytics for compliance or ROI purposes.

Stay tuned for part 2 of iBeacons for Learning where we will explore the other Use Cases presented in Beacon Learn along with the Future of Education in an iBeacon enabled world.

About the Author

Jody Baty

Jody Baty is a Senior Consultant and Project Manager at Roamable, where he specializes in Learning Management Systems implementations, Virtual classroom integrations, SCORM/AICC, xAPI, Content Authoring, and iOS-based mLearning apps.

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7 thoughts on “iBeacon and Education: Bringing Beacons to the Classroom

  1. I am a person with disabilities who has many paid helpers coming into my house… as a result the house ends up covered in signs about how to use the washing machine, how to set the dryer, where the towels go, etc. Being able to move this information into beacons would be a huge bonus for me – as well as providing better instruction to paid carers (videos as well as just text!) my house could go back to looking like a home instead of resembling someone’s workplace or an institution! I’m really excited about the possibilities of beacons for people with a huge range of disabilities.


  2. We have developed a work task support app. called FlyCatcher which uses ibeacon technology and a content design and delivery platform. This has been designed for people with learning difficulties and those with visual impairments in work. It allows content to be customised as pictures, video, large print or speech activated instructions. It delivers task based routines specifically designed to support people with learning difficulties and those with visual impairment in work. FlyCatcher is also being used in community venues to deliver information in accessible formats. If you would like more information please contact me.


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