Through the Google Glass: How Google’s Innovation Could Be an Education Game Changer

September 24th, 2013 | by Stephan Maldonado
Through the Google Glass: How Google’s Innovation Could Be an Education Game Changer

Technology has always been a crucial ingredient in the evolution of education. While the effectiveness of a great education depends largely on the devotion of teachers themselves, technology is important because it (at least, in part) enables teachers to innovate and gives them the ability to transform their imaginings into actual educational tools. In recent decades, technology has grown in leaps and bounds, from the creation of the internet to the invention of the smart phone. Each advancement has enhanced the educational experience, and Google’s latest innovation is no different. Google Glass has the potential to revolutionize the way teachers use technology in the classroom.

Announced in 2012, and not yet available to everyone, Google Glass is already generating plenty of buzz. So: what is it, and how will it continue to advance the integration of technology and education?

Google Glass

Google Glass

Google Glass is a voice-operated device–worn like a lightweight, flexible pair of glasses–that allows users to access a range of apps and perform a variety of functions completely hands-free. This “wearable technology” almost seems to bridge the gap between reality and some of the astounding technologies seen in science fiction films. While this is no “virtual reality” device, the Google Glass experience can be thought of as an “augmented reality.” With simple voice commands like “take picture” or “weather,” users are able to do much of what they would do on a smart phone or computer. Besides taking pictures and recording videos, you can also video chat, get directions, send messages, access websites, ask questions, and even translate your voice into other languages. Google Glass displays images in peripheral vision to avoid obstructing users’ view, so the experience is totally interactive and nonrestrictive.

Google Glass is the actualization of a concept called “ubiquitous computing,” which essentially aims to enable advanced computing to appear everywhere and anywhere. Regardless of device, location, or format, users interact with computers that are integrated into their daily routine. Google Glass is a development of Google X–a lab where Google is working on some of its most revolutionary innovations. While there is still much speculation as to when Google Glass will be available to the general public, people have gotten the chance to test the pilot version of the product. In February, the Explorer Program allowed a select few to apply to purchase Google Glass for $1,500. The application asked applicants to describe how they would use Google Glass if they were selected as an “Explorer.” One of the 8,000 selected Glass Explorers was Andrew Vanden Heuvel, a Michigan-based science teacher who said that “it would transform the way I would teach science, making every moment a teachable moment.”

Exploring Education with Google Glass

Vanden Heuvel used Google Glass to connect with his brother’s class halfway across the world and “guest lecture” via a live Google Hangout. His application of Google Glass demonstrates just a fraction of the potential that this device would have for teachers across the world. Some of the basic practical implications include the hands-free approach which allows teachers to interact more directly with their students. A biology teacher connecting her lab with another class in another part of the world can do hands-on demonstrations and experiments. A history teacher can use Google Glass to display quick notes when reciting different dates or historic figures. Google Glass would also be an excellent way to organize class schedules, homework assignments, grades, and communicate with colleagues between classes.

On a whole other level, Google Glass would enable teachers to make their lessons more engaging and easily accessible. Teachers would be able to record lectures and send them to students for study purposes, photograph students’ work on the blackboard to monitor their progress, search the web for additional lesson materials or answers without having to stop class to use a computer, even visualize data–and everything the teacher sees in real time can be shared instantly online and displayed on the classroom projector or smart board. Language teachers can even translate their voice during lessons.

OpenColleges recently produced a useful Infographic that postulates many more ways teachers may be able to use Google Glass. We do not yet know when Google Glass will be released to the general public, chances are it will be sooner rather than later, and people everywhere are already talking about all the different ways they will put it to use. While there is no telling how the device will be received by teachers, those who have already seen it have demonstrated the definite potential for Google Glass to be put to excellent educational use.

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