It looks like funky, futuristic eyewear but don’t let that deceive you; it does a plethora of things for which no navigation, swipes or taps are needed. It responds to voice commands to search and share content and record video. Wink, and it takes a picture. It can detect objects in front of you and augment them with additional information. It’s actually an extension of your smartphone. Intrigued? We are, of course, talking about Google Glass.
Google Glass is finding its way into many industries, with applications in construction, law enforcement, healthcare, media, real estate, banking, sports and tourism. It offers an augmented reality experience by using audio, visual and location-based input in order to provide relevant information. Let’s say you enter an airport – with Google Glass you will automatically receive up-to-the-minute flight information. One sector that is especially ready for the technological innovations that Google Glass offers is education and training.
Apart from capturing images and videos, Google Glass can also be used in Google Hangouts where you can have live conferences much like Skype calls, also enabling streaming real-time, first-person educational content across the globe as can be seen in the Virtual Medics example a little further down in this article.
With augmented reality, the subject matter comes to life
Augmented reality is without a doubt one of the most exciting features of learning with Google Glass. With AR, an object which is viewed through the device basically comes to life. Teachers and trainers can teach scientific phenomena with the use of photos, videos or audio files, and share them with their students. They can, for instance, also create their own mini-documentaries about any given subject that they teach in order to enhance story telling in the classroom which in turn improves information retention. There is no question that including augmented reality in the training curriculum can have a hugely beneficial impact on the learning process.
Remote teaching brings the classroom to you
Google Glass is a very useful tool for people making use of distance learning – not only students, but educators as well. Google Glass enables teachers to make video guides in first-person that mimic actual classroom experience. Lessons can be documented and shared and enhanced with hands-on experience and demonstrations. Google Glass is also very beneficial for making learning materials available to learners who have physical, auditory or visual disabilities.
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Education tailor-made to the student
In the event education needs to be tailor-made, Google Glass can help teachers to formulate study programs that are adapted to meet their students’ specific requirements. With the Augmented Reality Feedback System, Google Glass can be of great assistance in the event a student falls behind on the learning material. It will enable educators to get full student profiles so that they can formulate teaching programs and classes that are suitable to the capability of the learner.
Google Glass is helpful with language translations
Another example of how Google can help in education is the fact that it does language translations. If you speak English to your Google Glass, it is able to translate it to virtually any language. There is an app in development that can even assist with sign language – it will watch someone sign and display the words on the reader’s Glass screen.
L’Oreal’s exclusive virtual salon experience
Hair care giant L’Oreal uses Google Glass in their Matrix Classes, giving hair and beauty school students a real-time virtual, stylists-eye view of clients’ heads for their training purposes. Their training programs consist of several parts, including a series of videos with hair tutorials that were recorded by Google's wearable; Matrix Eye for Style – in which an exclusive salon experience is created with a series of lessons given by hair care professionals. L'Oreal also used Google Glass for documenting the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in Madrid.
Learning how to virtually prepare food at KFC
In October 2014, KFC, one of the leading fast-food chains in the world, ran a pilot where employees were trained with a software program running on Google Glass. Developed by Ankur Gopal, CEO of the mobile technology firm Interapt, the training program uses Google Glass to give trainees step-by-step instructions on how to make a sandwich or a burger, how to close the store after hours and how to switch off a fryer. This pilot program condensed an 80-page handbook into on-screen instructions, enabling trainees to prepare chicken in less than two hours.
Live streamed surgery
In May 2014, a group of consultant surgeons and medical students at Virtual Medics, leaders in digital health education, used Google Glass to live-stream a surgical training session in the UK. The procedure involved removing an elderly patient’s cancerous liver tissue. The session could be watched live via computer or mobile phone in more than 115 countries by over 13,000 medical students, healthcare professionals and members of the public. By incorporating Google Glass into their medical curriculum, students were able to enjoy an enhanced learning experience while interacting with surgeons during the procedures to ask them questions, without endangering the safety of the medical procedure. During these Google Glass sessions, which are now taking place regularly with the Virtual Medics online learning environment, students from all over the globe have the opportunity to be taught basic clinical and surgical procedures remotely.
There are some drawbacks, too
As exciting as the Google Glass developments are, there are some drawbacks as well. It is still a very new technology which currently only has a few applications. With time, however, additional education software applications will be developed. The first and most prominent drawback is the price tag. At $1.500 a piece, it is a hefty investment. However, as technology improves and Glass becomes more widely available, the prices will drop. Other drawbacks are technical issues such as the short battery life of the devices, which would obviously have to be resolved before educational facilities will feel comfortable purchasing these devices in large quantities.
The possibilities for Google Glass are as endless as they are manifold. This tool can greatly enhance teaching and take on a major role in assistive technology, as a creation tool and as a reflection tool. Even with the limited applications and functionality at this early stage of the developments, educators and technology see the huge potential. The device looks as if it has come straight from a science fiction movie, but it is very real and we’re going to see much more of it in the next few years
Image credits: David Gilder / Shutterstock.com