“I want to develop apps for it.”
This was Amit Patel’s response when asked by Dennis Villano, the Burlington Public Schools Director of Instructional Technology, why he would want to own a pair of Google Glass. Amit goes on to say,
“We have seen the first iPhone take the world by storm and now the iPhone 5 is more powerful than ever. With support from developers around the world in the future, there is no doubt that there is no limit on what Glass will be used for.”
You can read Amit’s entire analysis of Google Glass by clicking here.
Over the past several weeks, Help Desk students have been working on their final project of the first semester. Their task was to complete a two-part research project on Google Glass. Since Burlington was able to obtain a pair of Glass, and we are interested in gaining a student perspective on the potential of new technology, I felt it was important to allow my students the opportunity to experiment with it, research other schools that are integrating Glass, and provide their thoughts and opinions on the device and its potential.
Google Glass Part 1:
Part one of the project required students to collaborate with their Help Desk colleagues and create a presentation about Google Glass. Specifically, students were asked to evaluate the potential of Glass to be integrated into an educational setting, explain which content areas and grade levels could benefit from Glass, and conclude whether or not Glass would be a wise investment for the district. They presented their research to me, BHS Principal Mark Sullivan, Superintendent Dr. Eric Conti, Assistant Superintendent Patrick Larkin, IT Director Bob Cuhna, Network Administrator Jose DeSousa, Director of Instructional Technology Dennis Villano, and District Technology Coach Tim Calvin.
Google Glass Part 2:
Part two of the project required students to write a post on their personal blogs about “Glass in the Class.” This part of the project was designed to inform their readers and explain in detail how Glass works, its features and benefits, advantages and disadvantages, and ways Glass is currently being used at the elementary, middle, high school, and postsecondary levels. If you are a teacher or administrator and are considering investing in Glass, I would highly suggest you take the time to read my students’ posts and view their presentations. I’m confident you will be impressed by their work and will learn a great deal about Glass. Links to all of the Help Desk student posts can be found at the end of this post.
I’m pleased to feature senior Help Desk member Marko Lazarevic’s Google Glass post which originally appeared on his blog.
Google Glass Turns Classrooms into Glassrooms
Google Glass in Education: Part II
Google has recently released a new piece of technology, a computer worn on the face as a pair of glasses called Google Glass. While some people are trying to play with it and use it as a novelty item, others are applying it to educational and academic environments with hopes of changing how certain subjects are taught and perhaps one day replacing laptops and smartphones with a more sleek, less bulky alternative. But I’m getting ahead of myself. In case you did not have the privilege of attending our presentation on Google Glass, let me cover that first.
How Does It Work?
Since Google Glass rests on your face and mimics a pair of spectacles (with or withoutcorrective lenses), it’s hard to hook up a traditional keyboard and mouse or stylus and stand to use it effectively. Rather than relying on mainly physical contact to control the system, Google Glass relies on voice commands. Alternatively, for those unable to use voice commands at the moment, there is a section of Glass on the right side of the frame that can be used as a touchpad to control the interface physically, for those who still can’t fully adapt to the voice command revolution.
The Glass interface itself is located in the top right corner of your vision, physically located just above your right eye. The idea behind this design was to allow users to view the computer’s screen in the top right angle, but still have a very wide and mostly unaltered view of the real world, radically changing the constant necessity to look down while using portable widespread devices today, most commonly the smartphone. Glass sees everything that the user sees, so it is able to recognize certain objects and, with a voice command or two, get you the research you’ve always wanted or the picture you’ll always keep. Overall, Glass’s interface is not complex, nor is it anything we’ve never seen before, but it will take some time getting all the commands and head movements down accurately.
What Good Is It?
Now that you as the reader are aware of what Glass is, you might be saying to yourself, “wow, this is amazing! but, what does it do?” Some people might argue that although Glass does have some potential, if it catches on, that it never will catch on because it’s just an overall bad device. I, personally, have to disagree with that statement. The features that Google Glass offers are quite useful and, for those who can afford the $1500, may prove to be worth the money. So, getting back to the original question: what good is Google Glass?
Google something on the tip of your tongue using something on the tip of your nose
Field Trip App
Empowering the physically disabled
This shortened list provides just a taste of all the features that Glass has and is capable of performing. While the majority of the ones listed are self-explanatory, the Field Trip app and Tiles require a bit more explaining:
Now comes the important part: how are educators using Google Glass in their Glassrooms to change how lessons are taught and, most importantly, how children learn?
Google Glass Makes Classrooms into Glassrooms
Teachers around the globe are hearing news of Google Glass and want to get their hands on a pair to make their contribution to the edtech community and try to change the future of education. One such teacher, who utilized the #ifihadglass hashtag on Twitter, was lucky enough to win an invite to the Glass Explorers program and get a pair of her very own Google Glasses. Powers took the opportunity and recorded a lesson using Glass for her first grade class. The childrens’ assignment was to build a large keyboard and assemble all the keys in the proper order. Powers helped her students and, at the same time, recorded the lesson with Glass. After watching the video later, she commented, “watching the Glass videos, I saw that it was hard for students to wait for their turn to put their key up on the bulletin board,” wanting everyone to admire their hard work. Although Google Glass was not directly used during the lesson with the children, the ability for a teacher to revisit a lecture or lesson later and evaluate how students responded to certain parts of the lesson is crucial for improvement in teaching methods.
Similarly, Glass does not have to be a tool which students use to solve world hunger or solve three day long calculus problems. Sometimes, all you need is an artist, a masterpiece, and a camera.
Jokes aside, Google Glass could be an excellent tool for people to make, as well as watch, tutorials and guides on how to construct, paint, or design anything they want. With a camera on the face and two free hands, creativity and imagination are free to run wild and create.
Jumping from simpler to more complex tasks, we take into consideration the application of Google Glass in high school. Stacey Goodman, a teacher of a Personal Projects class, shares her thoughts on Google Glass. While her student, Dylan, is working on grinding down a piece of ruby-colored stained glass, Goodman worries about him recording the process with Google Glass, and with good reason. People who have been working at their jobs for decades get distracted sometimes; what’s to stop a 17-year-old with a gadget on his face from doing the same? Yet, as Dylan begins recording the video, the whole process goes smoothly and all fingers remain intact. Goodman comments that “the ease of use is partly why [she is] excited by pioneering Google Glass in the classroom, but [she is] most eager to explore the possibilities of using it for immersive, experiential learning and documentation used for reviewing and reflecting upon the student’s work.” Again, mention of reviewing and reflecting upon work. In this sense, Google Glass is not necessarily only good for reflecting upon performance by teachers during a lesson, but also by students who apply what they learned during the course.
College and On
Speaking of learning during courses, why stop at high school? We essentially spend our entire lives learning and doing new things. Marcie Cambigue, the Director of Technology at Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa, has also entered and joined the Glass Explorers program. With her very own pair of Google Glass, Cambigue talks about the two ways Glass can influence education: inside and outside the classroom. Inside the classroom, students are developing their own apps for Glass, potentially adjusting the device to fit their personal needs. The ability for Glass to be tailored and designed to each individual student’s needs makes it much more than just a fancy piece of technology. Outside of the classroom, Cambigue is exploring the benefits of Glass for med school students, taking pictures and film during surgeries as a method of teaching, or a hospital in a remote location where a nurse examines a patient while connected to a doctor via Google Hangout. Whether inside or outside the classroom, Glass is a versatile tool able to be utilized in almost any setting. Here’s one graduate student’s take on Glass.
My personal experience with Glass was very short and, personally, unpleasant. When I put them on, it was interesting for the first three minutes because I was completely amazed by the technology and the fact that there was a computer 2 inches from my face and I could control it with my voice. However, as the minutes passed, I started getting dizzier, to the point that I had to look away from the screen and straight for some ten minutes before my vision returned to normal. Even as I’m typing this I feel a bit woozy. I am unsure if that happens to everyone their first time wearing Glass and if it just takes some getting used to, or if I just cannot look at things at the edge of my sight for too long. As someone who wears vision correcting lenses, Glass also did not rest very comfortable over my pair of glasses, nor was I able to adjust them to line up straight with my pair of glasses so that neither was crooked. They make it look so easy in the pictures… In any case, I couldn’t use Glass for very long, so I wasn’t able to get a solid opinion on them from my own experience.
Glass? In My Class? It’s More Likely Than You Think
Just the other day, in our AP Physics C class, we were showing how rotational inertia changes when you pull your arms in and stick them out, much like ice skaters do. My friend recorded me spinning with his phone, and I couldn’t help but wonder how cool it would be to record a video with glass and show the change in speed from a first-person perspective as we pull our arms in and out. We were also doing Poetry Out Loud in my English class last week, and our teacher asked if any of us wanted to be filmed so we could see our posture and review any flaws we had in our recitation. I thought about how it would be useful if our teacher recorded us with Google Glass instead, so we could see what we look like from her perspective, which is the most important part of our presentation. I could list countless opportunities in our school where Glass could be employed. The bottom line is that Glass is very viable in a high school setting and, if not for large-scale projects, could be used for little projects or simple tasks. After all, it’s the little things that matter.
Save the Best (and Worst) for Last
Since educators and people globally are using Google Glass for one reason or another, it must be an excellent, flawless product, correct? Although widespread and useful, unfortunately, as with all products, Google Glass has its fair share of cons, but also pros as well.
Pros: mobility, hands-off, Field Trip, Google search, camera, facial recognition
Cons: price, privacy issues, problem for those with vertigo, hands-off, corrective lenses
Although an incomplete list, these are the pros and cons that I have found to be most popular.
Let’s start with the positive attributes. Google Glass is light and allows one to carry it almost anywhere. It’s less bulky than any cell phone and especially an iPad, meaning that teachers can easily use it during a lecture without being impeded by a bulky device in their hands. Glass is hands-off, which ties in with mobility, allowing the user to have both hands free to do whatever they’re doing, such as a wood shop teacher cutting a piece of wood, while also having access to all the features that Glass offers. Field Trip allows teachers to pull up more information about whatever site they’re at on a field trip to better explain to students the history and importance of certain landmarks. Google Search is, well, beneficial in any situation. The camera is extremely useful for teachers performing some sort of lab or activity during a class. If they can perform the lab and record it, they can then share the video with their students who can mimic what the teacher did, or perhaps use it as a way of checking for error in their experiment. Finally, facial recognition is an amazing way for teachers to learn students’ names at the start of the year (many of my teachers would definitely appreciate this aspect of Glass).
And now the not-so-positive attributes. The main reason many people are not interested in Glass is the price. $1500 is a pretty penny to spend on a gadget still in beta mode. My argument for this complaint is this: With Glass, you are able to reflect on your work and make improvements where necessary. Those with jobs, for example, could buy Glass for $1500, record themselves throughout the day, fix their mistakes which would, in turn, increase their productivity and customer satisfaction, and ultimately earn them a promotion. With this promotion, they would easily make back the $1500 they bought Glass with. Thus, in a perfect setting, it is possible for Glass to pay for itself, if used correctly.
Back to cons. With Glass’s voice command system, commands and conversations are very public. Many people believe, and are right to do so, that privacy would be very minimal during Glass usage. When communicating via Google Hangout, conversations would lose all sense of privacy and basically anyone would be able to listen in to your personal conversations. Another concern is the location of the screen in the top right corner of the field of view. For those with vertigo, it would be a problem to look in the corner of their vision without triggering their vertigo. If the screen was out forward more, rather than off to the side, it would be better for those with vertigo, but then the user’s vision would be obstructed, so there is no way that I can think of to avoid this issue.
Glass’s hands-off feature, although useful in the majority of cases, may be a hinderance to those who are more used to touching things and learning with their hands. If they are unable to touch the device and get a feel for it, they might have more difficulty adapting to the device. (Glass does have a touch surface on the frame but the more common method of controlling the device is by voice command). Finally, as was the issue with my glasses and Glass, Google Glass is not easily compatible with regular eyeglasses being worn at the same time. As a result, those in need of corrective lenses will need to either wear contacts while using Glass or purchase a separate set of prescription lenses for their Glass.
Want to learn more about Glass? Below are links to all of my students’ posts:
Xin– Is Google Glass the Future?
Ronak– Google Glass: Unlocked Potential?
Harsh– Glass Part II
Shams– Google Glass in Education: Headed in the Right Direction
Nick– Google Glass in the Class
Dora– Get Some Glass for Your Class
Jason – Google Glass in Education
Dylan– Google Glass in Education
Max– Google Glass