Google’s Glass: The Implications for Education

Google GlassWhen the iPhone became a reality education changed forever. Teachers, professors, and parents no longer had control over the flow of information. Smart phones gave students access to information whenever they wanted access, without permission from any adult.

Many times teachers look at new technologies as distractions. Students could go on Facebook, text, and all sorts of other activities on their phone while in school. This (to many teachers) inhibited learning as we have come to know it. However, what was hidden amongst many of the pleas to keep these devices out of schools, was a deep-rooted reality: The kids now had the power.

In fact, the kids always had the power, but now that potential was sitting in their hand or pocket 24/7. Education has grown by leaps and bounds in the past six years, and now many schools are advocating for smartphone use in the classroom. Understanding how we can harness this tool for learning purposes has taken too long…and now we will have to fight that battle again.

Google’s Project Glass burst onto the scene a year ago with a video that made me reconsider our “wired” possibilities. The video (if you haven’t seen it) is a first-person viewpoint of what the world would look like through Google’s Glasses. Everything is voice activated, so talking to yourself might seem normal in just a few short years!

Google Project Glass: One day… on Vimeo.

So, I’ve shown educators this video in a number of different settings. I showed it at the ISTE Leadership Forum to Principals and school administrators. I’ve shown it at a training for Teach For America teachers. I’ve shown it to my entire high school staff at an in service meeting. I always get the same feedback from educators regardless of the crowd: “Woah. So does that mean kids will be able to video and take pictures of anything in school? Will they wear them when they take tests….”.

It’s scary for many educators to think about a classroom of 25 students wearing glasses that will tell and show them anything they want to know. It’s frightening for school administrators to think that they could live broadcast anything that is going on in a school building. But what it really boils down to is this: There will be no more walled garden of schooling. Everything will be open to the public and we will have to change the way we educate. I see three major changes due to this type of wearable technology:

1. Standardized Testing will either change or go away. Students will have the answers to many questions right in front of them if the question does not reach the higher levels of Bloom’s taxonomy and Webb’s depth of knowledge. Multiple choice questions will become obsolete (thank goodness) in the wake of this type of technology. I’m sure the College Board and other national testing organizations will try to change with the times (they’ll have to) but they better start working on those changes right now.

2. Schools will have to operate differently. I know there has been a lot of talk about what the future of schooling will look like in the K-12 sector, and I don’t have a perfect solution. All I know is that 45 minute blocks of time where kids sit at desks and watch a teacher in front of them is not going to cut it anymore. With this type of wearable technology minds will be moving at a rate we’ve never seen. Distractions to learning will be at an all time high if classes are not engaging. We will have to start letting students choose topics to learn, and cover standards and skills through project and problem based learning. This can’t just be a few schools doing it…it will have to be a national agenda.

3. There will be a new “proficiency gap”. You can already see it now at the high school level. Students that have access to smartphones and laptops are becoming more and more proficient at skills employers are looking for. Because these devices are not cheap, the socioeconomic standing of students may set them back in terms of technological proficiency. It could create a quick culture of not only “haves and have-nots” but also proficiency. Surely a student with Google Glasses will be able to access information quicker, but will this also translate into better grades and better opportunities once they are out of school?

There is much to uncover with this type of technology, but we need to start looking at the possibilities and implications RIGHT NOW.

Dustin Curtis put it perfectly in a post yesterday:

“When I see the Google Glass UI sitting in the upper right hand corner of my vision, I think of it as potentially being one of the greatest tools man has ever come up with. It’s the true bicycle for our minds. It’ll make everyone smarter, faster, and better connected. It takes away the clunky interface of the computer, and it brings the world’s information directly to your mind.

The difference between Wikipedia twenty seconds away in your pocket and the answer to your question instantly and unobtrusively in your vision is enormous.

When you’re first shown the future, it’s hard to see it. If you don’t immediately use some imagination to evolve what you’re being shown into what it can or will become, you might dismiss it as something frivolous or a mere curiosity. You might even call it a toy. Microsoft built an absurd $10,000 table. Apple built a $499 tablet for everyone. Glass will play out the same way, I think, but it might be Google that makes the product for everyone.”

Educators, please see the future clearly with Google Glass. It is going to change your life, your work, and your student’s everything. Don’t fight it. Embrace it.

Photo Credit: jurvetson via Compfight cc

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  • Bart Miller says:

    1. If standardized testing is going to disappear, it won’t be because of these glasses. People who advocate for standardize testing have already demanded that these types of devices be banned from schools. Standardized testing will disappear when communities acknowledge that they assess only a very narrow set of skills which aren’t very important anyway, and that teachers are more than capable of tracking essential skills progress without bureaucrats breathing down our necks.

    2. Forty-five minute periods with a lecturing teacher already don’t cut it. Interest-driven and inquiry-based learning are already superior practice which could be enhanced by a tool like google glasses, just as they have always been enhanced by technology.

    3. You’re right about this, and from what I’ve experienced as a teacher from Google, access is one of their top priorities.

    Thanks for the article, I showed the video of google glass to my fourth graders today and we all agreed: We want them!

  • Greetings.

    A great introductory post. I’d like for you to dig a lot deeper into how you see the implications emerging for society parelled by innovation diffusion impact in the educational context. I’ve re-bogged you here –

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