MET:Google Glass

From UBC Wiki

Authored by Lane Hardy (Winter 2014)

Google Glass logo

Google Glass, also known as Project Glass, or just simply Glass, is an augmented reality tool created by Google. Glass is currently not available to the public, but certain individuals, known as Glass Explorers, are testing out the technology and integrating it into their everyday lives.

Some Glass Explorers are educators, and they are looking for ways to use Glass and how it can be integrated into lessons to enhance student learning.

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Google Glass Explorer Edition


Google Glass resembles a set of glasses in size, shape and weight, however, there are no lenses. Instead, there is a small computer screen, known as a heads-up display (HUD), and camera located on the arm of the right side. With an HUD, the screen is always visible to the user and this allows the viewing of information without looking towards another source. A touchpad on the side of the camera allows the wearer to flip through information on the HUD.[1]

A man demonstrates how to wear Glass.


Glass was intended to be available to the public by April 2012, but as of February 2014, it is only available to select individuals, such as Google developers.[2] Initially, Google sought applicants with an ad campaign called "Glass Explorer". Applicants were to respond on Google+ or Twitter with the hashtag #ifihadglass and give reasons why they should be selected.

Currently, US residents of 18 years or older are able to apply to be a Glass Explorer, but Google will only approve a select few people. Successful applicants can purchase Glass for approximately $1500 US.[3] When Google releases the public version of Glass, they aim for a price point around the current going price for a smartphone.[4]


Glass' abilities are chiefly accessed through voice commands. When the user wants to give Glass a command, they either tilt their head at a certain angle or touch the touchpad and before saying "Okay Glass" followed by their command. Glass Explorers view their information on the HUD. Commands can be given to view photos, the time, weather information and translating both written and spoken words into other languages. The camera enables the user to take photos or videos on command. The camera can be used to connect with other users via Google Hangouts, which is Google's video conferencing tool. Bluetooth connects Glass to the user's smartphone, so voice commands can be given to send text messages, and GPS directions can be shown on the HUD while the user is walking or driving.[5]


As with smartphone, there are some social concerns regarding the use of Glass. Since Glass is a new and much-sought-after technology, people armed with questions and the desire to experience what it is like to wear Glass often approach Glass Explorers. While a Glass Explorer might enjoy the attention of being "popular", the amount of requests would soon become overwhelming. Google is concerned about their Glass Explorers being poor ambassadors for their product. Google advises Glass Explorers not to be a "glasshole", a tongue-in-cheek term for a rude Glass user.[6] As well, there is the social issue of "glassing out", in which the user is intently focusing on the HUD for a long period, but appears to be "staring into space" absently. Google advises Glass Explorers to not view long documents and save them for a larger screen.[7]

Safety is another concern that has been expressed. Currently, most cities now have a ban of driving while using cell phones, except via Bluetooth headsets. Along the same vein, there is concern that drivers using Glass will become easily distracted and cause accidents.[8]

Because of Glass' ability to record videos "on the fly", there is concern over Glass violating individuals' privacy. Some businesses are forbidding their customers to use Glass while in their establishments.[9]

There is no doubt that once released to the public at large, the list of concerns and social issues will only lengthen.

Uses in Education

Because there are number of teachers who have been selected to be Glass Explorers, there is a growing number of websites demonstrating how these teachers are using Glass in their classrooms.

Video Documentation

Glass aids in the development of video tools to integrate into teaching. Teachers are able to document lessons that can be uploaded to a class website to allow access by students. These can be used for review or if students are absent and need to catch up. Video lessons can also be used to demonstrate how to manipulate an object. This is especially useful for fine arts educators to create videos "hands free". Music teachers can demonstrate how to play musical instruments and what view the teacher has when playing.[10] Visual arts teachers can demonstrate how to paint a picture or sculpt an object.[11] Other abilities could include documenting field trips, or showing a location that is not easily accessible to students, such as historical sites in Europe.

Flipped Classroom

Glass could also be used to aid in the teaching philosophy of the "flipped classroom". Flipped Classroom is a term that is used when learning occurs outside of the classroom (such as the students home) and the practical work occurs in the classroom. In a sense, "homework" is now done only in the classroom and students learn at home at their own pace.[12] With the ability of creating video lessons easily, Glass would be an asset to aid with creating lessons for this type of learning environment.

Remote Teaching

With the progression with video and conferencing technology, students that live remotely are able to access more curriculum electives online. With Glass, teachers can connect to these remote students and instruct them using Glass, either by Google Hangouts or video lessons.


Teachers can also learn using Glass. Teachers will be able to connect via Google Hangouts and observe other teachers instruction. Collaboration times can be set up with Glass, in which teachers do not need to be in the same location in order to communicate.

Classroom Instruction

Glass Explorer teachers who use the BYOD - Bring Your Own Device philosophy, can use Glass to aid classroom instruction. While delivering a lesson, students can email or tweet a question or comment that would appear on the HUD of the teacher. This would help students who are socially anxious to ask questions without being put on the spot.

Facial Recognition

Glass has the ability to use facial recognition abilities. This ability would aid professors at universities or colleges who have many students to account for. Using facial recognition, professors would have access to names without even asking. As well, facial recognition can be used to link grades or assignment to faces, which would alert a teacher or professor if a student is struggling with a concept.[13]

Andrew Vanden Heuvel

Andrew Vanden Heuvel is credited to be the first teacher to receive Google Glass for educational purposes. In a Twitter response to the hashtag, #ifihadglass, Vanden Heuvel responded, "it would transform the way I teach science - making every moment a teachable moment."[14] Vanden Heuvel, a remote classroom physics teacher, was chosen to be a Glass Explorer. In one of the promotional videos on the Google Glass website, Vanden Heuvel demonstrates how Glass can be used in education. Google sent Vanden Heuvel to Switzerland to visit the Hadron Collider, the largest particle collider in the world. Vanden Heuvel connected live to his brother's (also a physics teacher) physics class in the United States via Google Hangouts. The class was able to see what Vanden Heuvel was seeing, as well as having the ability to ask and receive answers to questions.[15][16]


  1. "Google Glass", Wikipedia. Retrieved on 21 February 2014.
  2. Bilton, Nick. "Google to Sell Heads-Up Display Glasses by Year’s End", NY Times Bits Blog, 21 February 2012. Retrieved on 21 February 2014.
  3. "The Glass Explorer Program", Google Glass. Retrieved on 21 February 2014.
  4. "Google Glass", Wikipedia. Retrieved on 21 February 2014.
  5. "How it Feels", Google Glass. Retrieved on 21 February 2014.
  6. Hartley, Matt "Google’s advice to Glass Explorers? Don’t be a ‘Glasshole’", Financial Post, 19 February 2014. Retrieved on 3 March 2014.
  7. Google "Explorers". Retrieved on 3 March 2014.
  8. "Google Glass", Wikipedia. Retrieved on 21 February 2014.
  9. Hartley, Matt "Google’s advice to Glass Explorers? Don’t be a ‘Glasshole’", Financial Post, 19 February 2014. Retrieved on 3 March 2014.
  10. Rohaly, Derek "Jimmy groovin' on set 12/18/13". Retrieved on 3 March 2014.
  11. Ecot School "ECOT Teacher Uses Google Glass in Online Classroom". Retrieved on 3 March 2014.
  12. "The Flipped Classroom: Turning the Traditional Classroom on its Head",Knewton,. Retrieved on 3 March 2014.
  13. Pinantoan, Andrianes "How Google Glass Can Be Used In Education", informED, 16 August 2013. Retrieved on 3 March 2014.
  14. Vanden Heuvel, Andrew. "STEMbite: An Experiment in Teaching with Google Glass", Edutopia, 13 June 2013. Retrieved on 21 February 2014.
  15. Google Glass. "How it Feels". Retrieved on 3 March 2014.
  16. Vanden Heuvel, Andrew. "My CERN Adventure", AGL Initiatives, 3 May 2013. Retrieved on 3 March 2014.

External Links

Google Glass

Google Glass: How it Feels

Google Glass: Accelerator Video