The Rosebrough Center Event Series at Union April 10 featured a seminar titled, “Learning #ThroughGlass: An Exploration of Google Glass for Education” to discuss the emerging trend of wearable technology and its effects on education.
Union alumnus Kevin Trowbridge, former Communication Arts major from the class of 1996, was a key presenter.
He now works as assistant professor of public relations at Belmont University in Nashville and as a “Google Glass Explorer.”
A “Glass Explorer” is defined as someone who uses the Google Glass Explorer Edition released by Google in 2013.
Trowbridge describes Google Glass as a wearable computer, completely voice-activated, as well as having Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities that can operate through a mobile device to make and receive calls.
It requires applications to work and has a storage space of 16GB.
“The whole idea of Google creating the Glass is because we spend so much of our time facing downward, looking at our phones, but Google takes the screen and brings it to eye level,” said Trowbridge.
Trowbridge paralleled Union’s Thomas R. Rosebrough Center’s ideals of teaching with the invention of Google Glass.
The Rosebrough Center for Educational Practice states that teaching is more than telling someone something new. It occurs when learning happens, and learning results when students are engaged with new information in contexts meaningful to them.
“The Glass Explorer program is what learning is about — it is about exploring; it is about interacting with new information in a meaningful context,” said Trowbridge.
As a professor, he uses Google Glass to see his students’ perspective, he said.
In class, Trowbridge often passes the Google Glass to one of his students and will have that student record the classroom experience.
“It is learning through the eyes of others,” said Trowbridge. “It changes and affects the way I teach.”
Chris Brown, senior digital media studies major, said he learned that Glass and its voice command performed better than anticipated.
“My personal favorite use for Google Glass would be as a note-taking aid,” said Brown. “I think it would improve the ability for students to easily reference anything said during a class period.”
Andrew Stricklin, junior chemistry major, provided a contrasting viewpoint about the Google Glass.
“I learned that a lot of people have a ‘do now, discern later’ sort of attitude,” said Stricklin. “They were enraptured by the capabilities of the Google Glass to the point of putting its quality of goodness on the backburner.”
He added that he does not see many practical constructive features of the device and regards its use as affixing a distraction to our faces. In contrast to enhancing our learning experience, Stricklin argues that using Glass would probably increase a student’s inattentiveness in class.
Instead of being a device for exploration, he suggested it may perpetuate laziness when seeking out information.
“As a society, we desperately need to pull our faces out of our phones and laptops, stop worshiping ourselves through social media and live in the real world,” said Stricklin. “Attaching these technologies to our eyes will be devastating to our culture.”
Despite contrasting views on the benefits of Google Glass, both students agreed that they would not purchase Glass. Pryor and Brown said at $1,500, the device is not affordable.
The discussion was the first of the event series sponsored by the Rosebrough Center, which serves to provide an avenue for discussion and engagement on relevant educational topics. For more information about the center’s goals, visit www.uu.edu/centers/edpractice.