Google Glass: A Lab on the End of your Nose

Over the summer I had the privilege of watching a 5th grader take Google Glass for a spin. The student was far faster at mastering the interface than I was, and also much more creative in his application of Google Glass.

A 5th grader wearing Google Glass.

A 5th grader wearing Google Glass. Photo courtesy of John Bailey.

Google Glass is, well, I better let Wikipedia explain it:

Google Glass (styled “GLΛSS”) is a wearable computer with an optical head-mounted display (OHMD) that is being developed by Google in the Project Glass research and development project, with a mission of producing a mass-market ubiquitous computer. Google Glass displays information in a smartphone-like hands-free format that can communicate with the Internet via natural language voice commands

Or perhaps a video would help.

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After a few minutes with Google Glass it became apparent that when Glass enters the education arena, especially the sciences, everything will be different. To have instant access to information via voice command, visual content and capture, mapping, and pretty much all the power of Google behind it, Glass will not only give us that third hand we could sure use in the lab and when doing field work, but also provide a level of communication and data capture in a natural way that easily exceeds our current standard practices.

As I watched the young student navigate the common uses for Glass, it was truly one of those rare magical moments when we don’t just glimpse the future, we are immersed in it! Glass is not just another accessory or device or even interface, although it certainly is all those, but it is also a true extension capabilities limited only by its wearer’s imagination.

Obvious uses for Glass will mimic those traditional tasks we currently use laptops, tablets, phones, cameras, and other stand-alone devices for. Using Glass for those tasks is just comfort food while our minds wrap around an entirely new dimension. Glass in education will not be more of the same. Glass will be more of everything at first, then quickly following will be a literal explosion in possibilities where we can recapture time by speeding tasks, amplifying capabilities by layering content in real time, and massively changing the precision of our information flow both in download and upload.

At first I wanted to see the young Glass user run it through its paces, but soon it was the long pauses where the student was deeply immersed in a virtual world glowing just a few centimeters in front of his eye that told the tale. Google Glass can take traditional instruction and personalize it, differentiate it, constructivise it, magnify it, amplify it, and leverage its virtual aspect to make the learning activities more real.

As much I wanted Glass right now, I had to temper my enthusiasm knowing that like most emergent technologies, the things we do today will seem mundane compared to what we will do a year from now. As an educator, I know tablets are a revolution. But Google Glass will be a paradigm shift. In other words, Glass changes everything.

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2 Comments

  1. Lauren Shelley
    Posted June 24, 2014 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    Google Glass is one of those technologies that I hope will emerge and engross our education system in the US very soon. I have access to multiple forms of technology, such as iPads, Chrome Books, laptops, LiveScribe, and a computer lab at the school I currently teach, but having this piece of technology would be a game-changer, in my opinion. For instance, teachers can wear Glass to record their class lectures (in either Science or Math settings-or really any educational setting for that matter) and upload them to a blog so absent students don’t get far behind (and to aid parents with homework help). Furthermore, these could be used to begin a flipped classroom, allowing for more individualized instruction and practice for students while at school. Also, students could wear these on field trips to learn more about their surroundings and be active learners while not in the classroom environment; it would be like having a mobile lab right at your fingertips (or shall I say eyes?). There are so many opportunities and ways for the user to become engrossed in their environment while wearing Glass, that the learning becomes less of a chore and more active and enjoyable. The only drawback, I see, is making sure to get rightful permission and proper documentation in regards to FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act). Recording voices with videos could be against certain laws and will need to be granted access through parental and school permission. Overall, there is so much to learn about Google Glass, and I hope one day soon that my students will have access to this! Great read!

  2. Angela J Detwiler
    Posted July 6, 2014 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    I was first introduced to Google Glass by a student. He was very interested in them and did some research. I was fascinated with the capabilities of Google Glass. At the time, it seemed like an amazing product for a select few that could afford it. I enjoyed this blog because it pertained to the uses of Google Glass from an educational standpoint.

    I currently work at a Charter School and each of the students has a laptop issued to them from the school. They have to tote around their laptops in laptop cases. I am also issued a laptop from the school and I have to carry it to and from school each day. Google Glass combines many different types of technology into one device.

    I really think Google Glass would be wonderful to use during science experiments and outdoor labs. Many times we leave our computers at the school because it is inconvenient to bring them along. We would be able to do outdoor labs, complete research, record, take photos, and begin documentations of our lab reports outside with this device.

    There are many interesting features to Google Glass, with some being very beneficial to students. For Physical Education class the LynxFit would be great for tracking student performance, workouts, activity and health goals. Field Trip gives you information on local history, architecture and more. For a foreign language class you could use the Glass Word Lens. In an instant it translates menus, road signs and any other printed words from one language to another. This would be an amazing feature when traveling to a foreign country. It is almost hard to wrap my mind around the possibilities for the classroom and the learning that would go on with access to technology like this.

    One area of concern would be the cost. Google Glass is currently around $1,500 each. With schools making budget cuts, it would be hard for a school to purchase very many of them. Also, schools would have to monitor the material students were researching on Google Glass to make sure it was appropriate for school.
    The idea of having Google Glass in the classroom is very exciting. It would bring many new opportunities to the classroom. It would change the way a classroom operates and the way that students learn. The learning process continues to evolve in classrooms and Google Glass would be a part of this growth.

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