How the Big Data of NASCAR Reflects the Future of Learning

future of learning

One of the biggest events in NASCAR is the Daytona 500. The race is 500 miles of cars driving in a circle. I know it doesn’t sound very exciting, but I would encourage you to watch it this weekend. Even if you only watch for 15-30mins it will be a learning opportunity for you. Of course you can watch it on regular TV but you can also check out the live stream at

However you choose to view, remember to think of this opportunity as a learning experience: A learning experience about technology. Sure, you can learn a little about NASCAR as well, but my guess is that you’re not interested in becoming a NASCAR fan. But the new tech may help you change your mind. Your learning experience this weekend should be about the technology being used on such a massive scale. While watching the race think about how much data is being transmitted in that one location. Think about the data collected/transmitted to offer you that viewing experience. And think about the data you don’t see. It’s not gigabytes or terabytes but PETABYTES of data about the car needing to be transmitted, processed and presented in real time.

NASCAR racing is a precision sport. Minor adjustments to a vehicle can mean the difference between winning and losing. Drivers and their pit crews rely on having data about everything related to the car. Since 2015 drivers have completely digital dashboards in their cars. And pit crews get live real time data about the car so they can make decisions before the car pulls into the pit. Not only that, but crews can run hypothetical simulations on the data integrated with historical data to see what would happen based on one decision versus another.

I had no idea about any of this until I saw the Ericsson booth at CES this year. They had a complete NASCAR car on display showing how much data is collected from these machines. But they also showed how new media tech is driving a more interesting and engaging viewer experience because of streaming video. It’s all about looking into the future and preparing for 5G: Bigger wireless “pipes” and faster connectivity.

Connectivity Will Get Better, Faster, Cheaper

No connectivity, or poor connectivity, is still a problem despite how far the internet has come over the last 20 years. The existing speeds have been adequate for the relatively “small” data content we’ve pushing through wireless networks. But the new reality is that live streaming video and even live streaming virtual and augmented reality are coming fast. We just need bigger, faster, and better connectivity to support them. But rest assured that companies like Ericsson and others are making that happen.

Bandwidth problems may be driving short term decisions in tech but you shouldn’t be making technology purchases based on short term issues. If you are looking at upgrading your training systems you need to find vendors and partners that have the infrastructure and resources to meet tomorrow’s needs. A good example is offline content. This is necessary for many different use cases, but not necessary for everyone as a convenience. Choosing a system with offline content as a primary driver will most likely limit your possible solutions. And what do you get in return? Maybe you bought yourself a fancy feature for 2 more years, but then bandwidth and connectivity grows and you’ll begin to find that nobody is really “offline” any more. I’m picking on offline content as a feature to make a point, but it could be ANY feature. Keeping your eye on other businesses and how they use technology is your window into the future.

Humans and the Machines they use Produce Data to Support Automation

Wearables now deliver live real time data about human activity, and internet of things is delivering live real time data about machines. Connected devices are expected to jump from 15 billion in 2015 to 75 billion by 2025. That’s probably a conservative estimate. So consider your business and people you serve with learning solutions. The machines and devices they use will soon be connected and delivering data based how they are used. Many business processes will soon be automated based on an abundance of data. Artificial Intelligence engines will be able to make decisions based on data which will fully automate processes once requiring human intervention in the training function. And no I’m not claiming the coming of skynet. But I am encouraging you to think a little more deeply about your technology decisions and understand that the administrative functions of the training department will soon be automated.

Enjoy NASCAR this weekend! It’s a big race and will showcase many new technologies. Let me know if you’re interested in making it a group learning experience and I will setup a hashtag or social media group so we can all learn together. At the very least I look forward to hearing what you think of the race.