How one teacher is using Google Glass to change her classroom

By Carmel DeAmicis , written on December 13, 2013

From The News Desk

Margaret Powers was intrigued when Google Glass came out. As a technology coordinator at a pre-K-2nd grade school, she immediately grasped its potential for use in education. When Google ran its #ifihadglass competition to pick people for the Glass Explorers program, she tweeted exactly that.

— Margaret A Powers (@mpowers3) February 20, 2013 To Powers' shock, she won.

— Google Glass (@googleglass) March 27, 2013 Thus began her year long quest to integrate Glass into her classroom, and to document the process Powers started a blog, 365 Days of Glass.

Before she received Glass from Google, she solicited recommendations and advice, and spent a month posting links to new Glass news, whether it was one of the earliest occasions of a young child wearing one or an infographic explaining how it worked with people's retinas.

"#IfKidsHadGlass they’d capture their class fish, the library and kitchen centers, their job chart and the Smart Board along with a few other parts of their classroom," Powers wrote on the blog. "I know this because … we asked our kindergarteners!"

Once she got her hands on Glass, Powers began bringing it with her to work. She tested it out it for seamless documentation, like taking pictures of the class on field trips or to recording her own teaching, and started using it to observe the students.

Powers tried out Glass in one lesson where the kids were designing alphabet keys to understand the purpose of keyboards. After the fact, Powers watched the Glass video she took while teaching to see what students struggled with. That helped her hone her lesson plan for the next time.

"Watching the Glass videos, I saw that it was hard for students to wait for their turn to put their key up on the bulletin board," Powers says. "So I added more questions about where certain keys were located or how to make certain symbols (e.g., shift + 1 makes “!”) to keep everyone engaged while we worked."

Finally she began letting students themselves wear Glass, leading to an adorable instance of a kindergartener pondering the nature of the technology.

As a member of the Explorers program, Powers' blog gives us one of the first glimpses into how teachers will be using Glass in the classroom and the extent to which it could change education.

At the moment there are a handful of apps publicly available, so the power of the technology in schools is limited to mostly image and video capturing purposes. Students can turn into mini documentarians, recording their experiences first hand for others to see. Likewise, teachers can record their own lessons for training purposes, as Powers did.

Even with just the documentation functionalities, Glass has potential in education because it gives unprecedented observation, instruction, and documentation benefits to both teachers and students.

It helps increase empathy, by allowing students to put themselves in each other's 'shoes' so to speak by watching videos they've recorded while wearing Glass.

It allows teachers to notice more about their classroom environment after the fact through the recordings. And it allows classes to 'travel' to places they otherwise might not by hanging out with someone wearing Glass.

Google released a video showing exactly that. A teacher in a cyber school took his colleague's class on a "field trip" to The European Organization for Nuclear Research in Switzerland via Google Hangouts.

Likewise, Powers had her students share their experiences via Glass with a class in Singapore.

She began coming up with potential lesson plans for a time when she would access to even more Glasses. "I wonder what it would be like for students to recreate a day in the life of a famous person and literally show how it could have looked and felt to walk in their footsteps," Powers says.

There are few companies out there developing education apps for Glass at the moment. The blog 365 Days of Glass is worth reading for edtech startups looking to understand how teachers or students might want to use Glass.

In the meanwhile, I leave you with an infographic from informED, an edtech training site, that has more than a few ideas.

An Infographic by