Teachers Eye Possibilities With Google Glass

By Hana Maruyama — September 09, 2013 2 min read
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Even though it won’t be available to the public until next year, Google Glass, a computer that is worn like glasses and responds to voice controls, already has educators thinking about the possibilities “wearable technology” could offer for teachers and students. “Wearable technology,” which ranges from 1980s calculator watches to headbands that can report on the wearer’s brain activity, is supposed to make technology more efficient and more easily incorporated into our daily lives. eWEEK writes that, for teachers, Google Glass is an opportunity to bring real life into the classroom, as high school teacher Andrew Vanden Heuvel discovered.

Vanden Heuvel was selected as a winner of Google’s #ifihadglass contest. The teacher, who in his free time runs a series of video science projects called STEMbite, wrote in his submission that Glass “would transform the way I would teach science, making every moment a teachable moment.” As his reward, Google offered him an all expenses paid trip to the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s most powerful particle accelerator, in Geneva, Switzerland. In April, using a Google+ Hangout on Google Glass, students in Grand Rapids, Mich., followed him on his journey to CERN. (See video by Google below.)

“To me, what’s impactful about STEMbite and Google Glass is that it’s kind of changing the nation and the conversation about what learning looks like, and that learning can take place anywhere and at any age, even on YouTube,” Vanden Heuvel told eWEEK.

Van Heuvel is not the only one thinking about the possibilities of Google Glass for education. InformED, a blog for Australian online education company Open Colleges, compiled a graphic with a list of their ideas for how Google Glass could revolutionize the classroom experience, including everything from remote tutoring sessions to language learning enhanced with Google Translate.

Catalin Voss, an 18-year-old who finished his first year at Stanford University last spring and is co-founder of the education technology start-up Sension, has his own ideas for how Google Glass could change education. He and co-founder Jonathan Yan are working on an emotion-recognition program that would enable educators to register feedback from their students’ expressions to make their classes more engaging. In particular, though, Voss, who has a cousin with autism, believes his program could also help teach people with autism spectrum disorders how to comprehend others’ emotions.

In an article in The Guardian, Google Glass creator Sebastian Thun spoke about the role technology could play in changing the way we think about teaching. He believes that technology could help teachers assess their students’ engagement. He wants education to take a hint from gaming in the way it is entertaining and rewards accomplishment. Thun said, “The education system is based on a framework from the 17th and 18th century that says we should play for the first five years of life, then learn, then work, then rest and then die. I believe we should be able to do all those things all the time.”

If you had Google Glass, how would you use it in your classroom? Let us know in the comments below.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.