Here we go again, I'm rockin' the Google Glass at school and once again taking a fresh look at what's now (to me) old technology. Funny to say that, really, it hasn't hit the market yet and it's old, familiar and lost its luster. Is that where we're really at with technology now? My daughter is looking into an iPhone 6 and I'm just getting used to the idea of the 4s?
So anyway, I'm back to taking a look at the device and continuing my journey. I wore it at the end of last week; intending to wear it daily and then just forgot about it on my counter. Saturday was the annual skeet shoot in the UP and I purposefully didn't wear it because a bunch of old paranoid Yoopers with guns is not the place to introduce a camera on glasses.
So I waited until today.
Some thoughts for now:
FINALLY, FINALLY, FINALLY, the apps are catching up with the device. It's like when I got my first PDA and all I could use was the calendar. When they came out with more apps it became more useful and eventually began to evolve into something useful, not just something neat. By far my favorite app is Pandora. Not something new but definitely something convenient and attractive. Some of the apps are obvious commercial connections. This is to be expected. I'd like to see the barrier completely dropped and all the third party apps be able to be used easily. Google's in danger of being as exclusive as Apple.
Still hung up on the camera. Works great and might just be the most appealing part of the device.
Kids are still interested in it, adults are cautious and curious.
I'll keep playing with it and investigating.
Educationally, it's still up in the air. I'm going to be looking into it for more
--24 hour break-- (Things get busy in IT)
So, back again. Wore Glass to work for a second time. Having issues with it connecting to the Wi-Fi in the buildings so I'll try and work that out down the road somewhere.
Beautiful fall colors this week; hopefully I'll be able to give you some great pics and video of the ER chain from Glass this weekend.
It's been far too long since I've posted and it's time to start again. I've spent the last month really researching and thinking about Glass. I needed to set it aside and evaluate. I started using Glass and had it with me everywhere I went. I wore it at work (arguably the best place for this type of evaluation), I wore it at home and I wore it out in the community. The whole time I wore it I was talking with people, showing off Glass and generally immersed in the "new tech" side of it. Many months later, after Glass has passed from person to person, I'm ready for a fresh start.
I found myself in Green Bay yesterday having fun with the kids at Bay Beach Amusement Park. A combination of carnival rides and, a city park and a small roller coaster, this was a great place to finish off a weekend of camping before heading home. I didn't bring Glass camping. Maybe I should have. There were several times when I thought I wish I had Glass . . . to capture family moments, video tape my youngest's first roller coaster drop (terrifying . . . we went 7 more times!) and generally be the only one with Glass in the park. I'm headed to Canada at the end of the week and I'm really torn about bringing it. I'm going to use a GoPro for action shots (I don't think the Glass battery can make it for all-day fishing) but I'm thinking of Glass for some of the other parts . . . maybe just a head-to-head comparison with the GoPro.
I have to say, after using the GoPro (actually a knock-off version I bought for $40), I'm starting to see the gap between the two. Boldly, I've made the comparison and questioned if Glass is really that much more special that it's worth the cost. I mean, the GoPro takes video and pictures and I can mount it just about anywhere. In the end it comes down to convenience.
Here's an example: I have a smart phone that does, essentially, what other devices can already do. If I had a rotary dial phone I could still make calls. If I had my old bag phone, I could still make calls away from home and in my car. I can access the Internet on my laptop, desktop and iPad. I can take pictures with my camera. Each of these devices does its job well (maybe not so much the bag phone) and very specifically. I have a smart phone because it does the job better.
In many circumstances, especially where there's a plan and ample time to set it up, using a mounted camera (like the GoPro) makes sense. Glass is delicate (maybe this is an assumption, at $1500 I'm unwilling to test the limits too much) and the GoPro is tough as nails. In wet or dangerous situations I'm not willing to put Glass to the test.
This being said, the convenience of Glass -- right there, always ready -- is intriguing and I'm finding many situations that I would have liked to had my camera, phone, computer . . . but I didn't. Glass is integrated and always ready (OK, the battery could last a little longer).
But I'm doing the evaluation for education, right? Maybe it's time to stop using the magnifying glass while evaluating it and just start enjoying it. After all, so many things I've used for education I've discovered in a completely unrelated way. I'm confident that in the back of my mind I'm always evaluating everything for educational merit anyway. So, I'm going to start wearing it regularly and finding out what it's capable of outside the "education" realm.
My ongoing task (getting frustrated with this one) is to get other apps on the device. This "easy" task has been beating me senseless the more I try it. I'm going to unlock it. It can't be that hard, many others are already there. I've followed the instructions online and I'm getting close. It shouldn't be this hard but, then again, I'm not a programmer so maybe there's something I'm missing. Actually, this could be the first educational use of the device. How do you add and write apps for Glass? Maybe I need to talk to the computer teacher some more.
Today I came across some pretty thought provoking stuff. I mean, I'm always thinking, but I've been frustrated and concerned that there really isn't anything more exciting about Glass than a camera on my head. In all reality, that's awesome, but not awesome enough to make it even remotely worth the cost.
So I put on my thinking cap. The more I see Glass and look at videos and pictures, the more I start to grasp what's happening in the Glass world and where Google's missing the boat. Explorers are showing, through Glass, their lives; sharing excitement and Awwww! Moments. They're also using some of the apps to do other things (some of the easy to get apps, others are fiddling with third party or developer apps), but mostly I'm finding the "look at me and my cool thing I'm doing and recording" examples. Not enough. GoPro users and enthusiasts are doing it bigger, better, faster and cheaper.
Then I picked up the iPad and went to YouYube. My youngest had been searching for videos on how to be a spy. I watched a couple and decided I would make a good spy, a little hard to conceal, but I've got the skills (and super-spy glasses). As I often do, I started to click on some of the suggested videos until one popped up that was the best smart glasses of 2014.
What?! There's ONLY Google Glass!
I watched the video. This is exactly what I'm looking for and, more importantly, what Google so desperately needs to work towards. True augmented reality. The featured glasses (Glass was one) showcased exactly what I want.
Go to YouTube and search for the best smart glasses of 2014 and see what you think. Preliminary research shows as early as July and late as next year Google will be paced and quickly passed by the competition. I need to call Apple and get them working on it.
There's something about Glass that doesn't work for some people. He had trouble getting it to focus and work correctly from him. Makes me think about the Glass experiment and where it's going. I'm trying to focus on how it works for both teachers and students. Once it hits the market, there's going to be an influx of users that will be on both sides.
Increasingly, like all new technologies, I'm seeing news coverage about Glass and more and more of these reports are starting to move from WOW! to Really? For example, The Daily Show has a segment that highlights some of the more ridiculous sides of Google Glass. While for entertainment, it does ring true in a lot of ways. There's a perception that being a Glass Explorer (really rips into that idea) is an elitist, wealthy program in which socially awkward people can feel important. I've heard this before.
Anyway, it gives me reason to pause and think about the natural evolution of technology. I don't believe for a moment that Google is presenting Glass in more than just an "Explorer" program, it's a media stunt as well to create demand for the product. In terms of technological evolution it's time for people to start really looking at the need and use of Glass. I haven't seen a need for Glass but I am definitely looking for a use. The longer I have it, the more I come back to the same thing: it's great to have a camera on my head.
It needs to be more.
This week and next I'm going to be reflecting on it from the viewpoint of the teacher. I'm teaching training sessions for our LMS at Pines to MS and HS teachers. I'm going to attempt to use it in this setting for something more productive than tweeting pics of them working.
Leave comments if you have suggestions for things you'd like to see me try. Educationally, that is.
Through Glass while Ann talks about WikiProjects in Haiku.
No, I didn't get another set of Glass, but I passed it along to someone new and, this time, someone who's life with technology is different than mine. I've passed it along to someone who's life has been more involved with a lifestyle that's more in tune with what I believe Google intended Glass to be. Harlan is a Social Studies teacher turned computer teacher and a tech coach as well. Side by side we train staff and students and work to integrate technology into Pines. More importantly for this experiment, Harlan lives with technology in a different way than I do. I'm a digital immigrant. I didn't grow up with technology the way he did. His life integrates his phone in a much more all inclusive way and I believe some of the functionality of Glass, some of the understanding of how the features will enhance life will be explored more easily by him.
With the end of the school year madness just finishing I was unable to push the envelope and try some of the more experimental side. It's still coming, but without classrooms full of students it's time to examine the consumer side if Glass. Harlan will have it for a few weeks and then I'm turning it over to one of our students to get a truly unique perspective. Some time in late July I'll get it back and pull out all the stops.
I'm excited to see where Harlan takes it and what he discovers as well. The teacher in me is excited to see where he goes.
So, it's been a while and I have Glass back and I'm ready to venture forth with new vigor and excitement in my evaluation of Google Glass for education.
There's only a week left before the official summer break for Pines so much of it's going to be speculative and exploratory; planning and evaluation what I think will be beneficial. As always, I'll also look at it critically to determine what I have and if it even has any value in education at all.
Maybe that's the wrong way to look at it. Just about everything has some sort of value to education. After all, that's the art and craft of being an educator. We evaluate and recognize the qualities, discard what doesn't have enough value and then use it, pass it along or dismiss it.
The title is deliberate because, for those who know me or have the misfortune of asking, I am an avid (read obsessed) fisherman and spend much of my free time after work here:
I sometimes catch fish, oftentimes don't, but thoroughly enjoy the time I spend in my 16 1/2 feet of floating peace and quiet.
As I move forward and our seniors move on, expect many examples of me out and about enjoying all the beautiful north woods has to offer.
Back to Glass. It's time to take it to the next level. Let's recap: I used it for several weeks when I first got it. I passed it along to Ann who used it in HS Science and posted here, she passed it along to Josh who used it in HS Tech Ed and then I almost made it back to my office when I decided to pass it off to Jenni who used it in a HS Science classroom. Each of them were excited and, most importantly, honest in their evaluations. Jenni was the most enthusiastic about one aspect that I believe has merit in education: she was able to post what was going on quickly an efficiently. This is something she felt the need to do before but Glass provided the easiest avenue to date.
I like to hear this because that's an important part of education as we move forward. Students of Jenni's that were absent or unable to get to class could take advantage of the lesson she was teaching after the fact. This can be done with other recording devices but the fact that it was easy and available made it worthwhile. Chalk one up for innovative, effective teaching.
Josh and Ann had similar thoughts and are planning to integrate this into next year's adventure.
So, Phase Three:
The consumer market is absolutely driven by third party support for the technology tools we have. I feel as though Google has a limited number of apps available through their My Glass site and app and this has hindered my ability to really, truly use much more than the camera. Don't get me wrong, the camera is a powerful and extremely high quality component, but so is a $300 GoPro.
My next piece of the quest is to explore the third party apps that are out there, put them on Glass and see where they go. To do this I have to install a developer program on my Mac and then install the apps manually. I'm not sure what Google thinks of this, but I'm going to do it anyway. Preliminary research suggests leads me to these:
1. Sphero. Augmented reality through a robotic ball. There's an app for Glass and I'm pretty sure our Charter school has one. (sorry Scott)
2. Homework. There's an app that works as a homework reminder. I want to check it out since some day our students will have this device or one like it.
3. Astronomy. There's an app that lets you look at the night sky and then Glass identifies constellations. Too cool to even imagine now. We have an astronomy class at the HS.
I'm sure I'll find more and keep you posted.
Professionally, I'm relieved to see there are groups forming (Google+) of teachers with Glass that are connecting and collaborating. There are presentations at ISTE from some of these teachers. I won't be going to ISTE this year but I will be sure to follow what they do and connect with them to increase my knowledge base.
For Pines teachers that follow this blog or have been bugged enough by me to read it, don't be afraid to ask about it, I'm open to anyone who wants to give it a try next year. Josh, Ann and Jenni have done something wonderful for me by being my test group. They are all dedicated, busy teachers that took on the extra burden of trying something new.
I have to throw in one more photo of a couple of SOAR students. They saw me looking through an expansion pack for the Lego robotics kits they've been using and were enthusiastic to share with me what they did, problem solve with me their struggles and continue to push themselves to learn at the wee hours of the school year.
Day 2 with Glass- feeling a LOT more comfortable using them today. Thought today would be the perfect opportunity to try them out in the "field" as we were completing the dropping portion of the Egg Drop Lab with my physical science classes. Had a student volunteer to wear them and record video as each student dropped their Egg Drop Device- just downloaded the videos- AMAZING!! I can use these very clear, precise videos to point out differences in air resistance, acceleration due to gravity, etc. as I now have a video "record" of each dropped device. One of the higher level skills we work on in physical science is data analysis- what a perfect way to point out differences in velocity due to shape differences, etc. - very impressive. I had often thought of videoing the "drops" but a video camera was cumbersome- this fits perfectly- on to more opportunities in the "field" with glass- Hydrorockets here we come!!
Wow- what a day- have finally had some time to sit and reflect on using Glass. Students were beyond fascinated with them and several asked to try them on- of course I obliged but was also a little nervous of freshman and something breakable in the same room! I have fantastic students and if they can be trusted to light a bunsen burner I was pretty sure they could be trusted to try them on for a spin. It is definitely a learning curve. I guess I felt a little "distracted" while wearing them but by 5th period did not really notice they were there and felt comfortable enough to take some video and pictures of the students with their Egg Drop creations. The question remains- how can I use them to increase student learning or show a concept in more detail? I am tumbling through the Looking "Glass"- who knows where it will lead me!!
Well, I got Glass back on Friday and then, before I made it back to my room, pawned it off on another teacher. For Josh's most recent blog, click here.
As I walked the scant 50 yards from Josh's room I had plenty of time to think about all the things I would try, new ideas I had . . . and then I walked by the science wing and I heard Jenni Nickel's voice booming from her room.
Jenni has been a shining star in our 1:1 program this year. She's embraced the concept, worked hard to adapt to the environment and definitely geeked-out on all the tech.
I gave her Glass to use for a few weeks. It's a nice way to round out the year, she's going to put it to good use and, besides, they're making trebuchets.
Been a while since I posted and, considering I'll be getting Glass back some time in the next week, I figured it was time to put down a few thoughts about where I'm heading in the future.
To start with, I want to thank both Josh and Ann for their work with me on the NPSD Glass project. It's challenging and exciting to take a new piece of technology and evaluate it for its effectiveness in education. On top of getting used to how it functions, they've had to evaluate their own classrooms and teaching and think about a use for the device. I want to emphasize use for the device. In education it's not just about how tech functions, but rather how it's functional. Without the focus of "Are my students learning?" we're just putting more stuff in front of them and it becomes cumbersome.
For example, I loved my motorcycle and it was extremely fun and useful but it would serve no purpose in my classroom. Josh, however, may find it extremely useful in Tech Ed.
So, the future:
Continue to connect with other educators around the country that are using Glass and communicate
Present our experiences at conferences (TIES)
Explore apps that will specifically connect with and apply to education
Connect with Google and try to establish a pilot program at Pines for Glass with kids
Find a trustworthy student to use Glass for a period of time and evaluate its usefulness in education
I've noticed more and more groups in education popping up that use Glass and are excited to share experiences and collaborate. Specifically, through Google+, there's a strong group growing and meeting regularly about Glass through a hangout. So far I have not attended one of these meetings, but I've also been without Glass for 6 weeks.
I'm once again excited to get Glass back. Not the same excited as I was when I first got it, but excited that I can move to the next stage.
It's important to note that, in his blog, he mentions Glass and damage and worries about the device. This is a great point to think about since so much of the time I'm hearing people talk about the value of this and the worry about breaking that. I'm not condoning dangerous or reckless behavior, but I am saying use it. No authentic data has been gathered through bubble wrap.
I accept the risk associated with letting others use the device. I maintain that it is just a device. While the price tag is hefty, it's much smaller than the waste of a resource sitting in a drawer.
Friday Ann turned over Google Glass to Josh, a technology education teacher at the high school. I'm excited for Josh to try them out and give feedback. Josh has opted to create his own blog but I will be sure to connect the links to this blog so you can read all about it.
I've taken a little time to reflect on the growing communities of Glass wearers in the world. Specifically, there are more and more communities that focus on education that are popping up, getting together and sharing the experience with others. This is mirrored in the non-education world of Glass as well. Communities are forming, like Harley riders or Jeep owners. They're taking pride in ownership and uniqueness.
Is this furthering education? I certainly hope so. It's hard to tell. I predict this year's round of education and tech conferences are going to feature more and more Google Glass. I hope to see this spur the industry into providing a variety of apps that are designed to help Glass improve instruction or accessibility or something.
Anyway, after talking to Josh I'm hopeful he's going to geek out like the rest of us and show us some truly unique, interesting and engaging ways to use Glass.
So I was charging Glass and needed to return a phone call to a community member about a service project our students partake in next month. I pulled out my cell phone (my school phone tends to cut out or lose charge at critical moments) and dialed up. To my surprise the call was picked up by Glass and I had to scramble to toss Glass on my face so I could take care of the call - now I know that I could make calls from Glass so that wasn't surprising, but the fact that I initiated a call from my cell but it was completed (taken over really) by Glass did take me by surprise.
The attempt to sit in with another teacher and work on using Glass with dissections never panned out with schedule changes and snow days. Perhaps the other teacher will also get a crack at Glass yet this year. Yesterday however, my anatomy students were working through a vocabulary jig saw activity and I used Glass to record the sharing of definitions etc.
It's long, and shaky, but you can see the video here.
This was shared on the student resource page and allows the students to go back anytime they need to review the terminology. It was a bit novel as normally, I'd have the definitions posted on a document, but this time the students have something more entertaining to watch! As it stands, I'm turning over Glass today to Josh. So this morning I factory reset Glass, plugged it in so he has it fully charged and will deliver it to him before the end of the day. Good Luck Josh and I can't even begin to thank Dave enough for getting me in on the whole Glass experience!!!
Wish I could have used the title "Kickin' Glass and Takin' Names" for this post but I think that implies that Glass has been glued to my head and at the forefront of most of my work recently. And it hasn't - hence my feeling like I'm doing it half-glassed. Also, I said in my first post that I couldn't think of great "Glass" puns and titles - yeah, still can't. I can't even take credit for either post title here, they're the work of my husband who I'm sure could rant out another 10 or so if I gave him half a chance. Oh well - onward...
So as I posted last time, I was really excited to use Glass to screencast from my point of view. My classroom is equipped with a projector and AppleTV. I had everything up and running first thing last Tuesday morning and lo and behold, the screen cast played sideways (half-glassed)! I believe this has to do with the fact that I'm using an iPhone with Glass and the phone doesn't AirPlay but my iPad does and it only has an iPhone app which makes it play sideways as it won't orient correctly. For that class, I ended up taking off Glass, holding the frame sideways so the video was upright and went through my demo. All said and done, I simply used the iPad camera to AirPlay to the screen for the remainder of my classes that day - much simpler. I still feel that the live screencast would be much more valuable when you need to be 100% hands free and have the correct perspective/point of view. I've been chatting with another biology teacher and I'm going to go into her class tomorrow - get ready for some earthworm dissection! I plan on trying out some of the ideas mentioned in my last post from both the teacher and student perspective.
The rest of last week was pretty much a bust for me and Glass. Wednesday was an out of town funeral and then I came home Wednesday night to 6 inches of snow and magically overnight that 6 inches turned into about 15.
No school Thursday - snow day - April 17th. No school Friday - Good Friday. That week was half glassed.
Over the weekend I did share Glass with my mother (former teacher) and some other relatives, relations and friends. I found an interesting trend. The over 60 year old group kept mentioning big brother and how they "just don't like the idea of it" i.e. that they could be videotaped/under surveillance without their knowledge. The under 45 year old group was for the most part amazed and excited to try it on and check it out. The only nay-sayer in the younger group was my cousin's wife and I think it had more to do with her not wanting him to have any more gadgets as he proclaimed that Glass was all he wanted for his birthday (which was yesterday - and no, he didn't get Glass). I didn't have enough guts to wear Glass at the local drinking establishment one evening over the weekend either - more half glassed attitude from me.
And so here we are, halfway through the last week that I'll have Glass and I'm not sure that I've accomplished anything revolutionary - not that I have to, but I did feel at one point that I would have some epiphany and everything would clarify and roll right out. Don't get me wrong, there have been some great moments, snapshots if you will, but still I have a feeling that I've just done it half glassed.
No, I didn't break the Google Glass (thank goodness)! But, my thoughts are kind of random and jagged and I found myself using Google Glass on and off throughout the weekend, hence the name. Also, my success at implementing some of the features was also hit or miss...
Friday: Lefties (eyes that is...)
So Friday was the first day I wore glass for an entire day. I was still getting plenty of questions and spent time allowing others to try glass for themselves. One question a student posed was if Google would ever have a left-eye version of Glass. He (and I) are both left eye dominant for shooting sports and the like and it didn't dawn on me until his question that this may be one reason why I felt (feel) eye-strain when wearing Glass. It's gotten better as I wear Glass longer, but when I first put on Glass in the morning, it still takes awhile before my eyes feel comfortable. Some days I can only take 3-4 hours at the most. Currently, it doesn't appear (at least in Explorer phase) that Google plans on a left version, and so some are taking issues into their own hands, wearing Glass upside down.
Demo for Dissection
So I teach anatomy, but most of the dissections in my class are finished. In a neighboring biology classroom however, students are just starting dissections dealing with advanced invertebrates. I discussed using Glass with two students in the midst of a clam dissection and they described their experience and knowledge of clam anatomy. I see a number of potential uses for Glass in this manner.
Teacher with glass has students explain (as the video shows) - the teacher now has a formative assessment of how the class is progressing. Additionally, the teacher has caught snapshot videos that can be viewed later - this is different than what I do right now. Currently, I have to try and remember what each group struggled with or what their strengths were off the top of my head, with video I can refer back at any time and I know that I can take "regular" video with a phone or iPad, but Glass is much more seamless.
Teacher could run through dissection while recording to give students a point of view demonstration of the technique - the hands free application is better than anything I've tried so far in trying to share this with a full class.
Screencasting this for students to watch would help for students to see during a class.
In a flipped classroom, the video could be posted ahead of time for students to preview.
Students could video their own dissection and then use it for review. (I'm going to try and have these young ladies work this out at least once in the next week.)
Any video could be posted and shared with students absent for the dissection day, even though there is no replacement for the true lab experience, its a great substitute.
My Anatomy classes were working on an activity that helps them differentiate between excretion and elimination (aren't you wishing I was a social studies teacher right now?) and after lots of discussion and debate. We came up with our delineation and a lot of brainstorming on the whiteboard. I've been known in the past to remind students that a great way to remember the conversation is to snap a picture of our "notes" for future reference. Many times, I'll take a picture and post it in our CMS for students to go back to. Well, with Glass I simply told Glass to take a picture and then shared it directly in Google+ with my Anatomy class circle. Pretty cool!
Dance Pictures - Facebook Fail (temporarily!)
After school on Friday my two daughters had pictures for their upcoming dance recital. I wore Glass and took some candids and attempted to post them directly to Facebook (which I do have activated in Glassware). My phone doesn't act as a hotspot and so I had some difficulty posting directly to Facebook Friday without a network, but today when I tested it at home, there was no problem taking a photo from the card stack and sharing it as well as taking a "fresh" photo and posting that directly to Facebook as well. I really liked the ease of captioning a photo/video with voice commands only.
Saturday Law enforcement conversation
My husband works for the WI DNR as a law enforcement officer and he and I had a long discussion about the potential for Glass in his field. As long as the durability of Glass was increased, he had some ideas, here's a brief rundown...
videotaping contacts with the public (think dashcam)
crime scene recording for later assessment
recording interviews with suspects/witnesses
search databases hands-free on the spot (would need secure wifi/glassware)
record training scenarios from contact officer perspective
assure consistency during scenario training/testing from one contact officer to the next; this could also save time in training (not having to run each officer through every scenario)
allows officers in training a chance to reflect on their performance in varying situations
Monday Screen Cast Fail (until next time)
As I was setting up for class today, one thing I wanted to try was to screencast my view in Glass with the entire class (using AirPlay to broadcast to the "big screen" in my room). I was trying to show something very small (capillary action in a microcapillary tube) to the entire class and screencast would have been helpful. As it was, I found the directions to screencasting (1. Bluetooth to phone and use hotspot or 2. Make sure both devices are on same network). But that was it - no further direction. Now I know that I need to think intuitively, but faced with a class full of students waiting for me to get rolling, I didn't have time to think on my feet. Sitting tonight, it dawned on me that I should have simply started a recording with Glass and then the screencast would "start" on its own. Aha! Tested and working - can't wait to use it tomorrow when I demonstrate setting up chromatography tests with the students tomorrow~
Remember that commercial? Did you feel attached to the hip, comfortable Mac or the stuffy, nervous PC?
I've thought a lot about the earlier post I wrote and it was bothering me that we could be limiting our students and my children by presenting them with technology we're comfortable with rather than allowing them to learn the process, learn the 21st Century skills that involve flexibility and openness to new ideas and comfort with technology.
I'm pushing 40 and identify myself with a generation of transition. Transitioning from family structures, societal norms and limited thinking. I grew up in a house where racism, sexism and bigotry were present and, over the years, I transitioned into where I am now: free from that thinking. I didn't have a computer in my house when I was there; in fact, I didn't get my first one until I was 22. Now, I own a pair of Google Glass.
I think about the limits some of my peers, my colleagues and even some of my students put on themselves ("I can't use a Mac!") and worry that this narrow thinking is going to be passed along to our children, placing a ceiling on what they strive to understand.
And then my 8 year old did her homework and I did what I do best: I watched.
"Dad, did you bring your computer home?"
"I'm researching and I want to be able to type."
"Why don't you use the iPad?" (She's taken mine and now it no longer has the sleek black keyboard case but rather an indestructible "girly" case)
"I can't use my home-row keys."
Conversation over. She retrieved my laptop (Mac) from my backpack and proceeded to go to Chrome, search with the voice-recognition feature and then find out that Mrs. Waffenschmidt was in Italy. I was floored at her comfort and capability. I kept my cool. After all, I'm a Mac.
I realized something as I watched her work. I realized that she wasn't a Mac or a PC. She's not a Chromebook or an iPad. She's a 21st Century learner. I didn't teach her how to use a Mac vs. a PC. Granted, she's had technology around her and available for, like, ever. She has absolutely no hesitation in picking up a piece of technology, any technology, and just using it. It's not because I put it in her hand and insist on it, it's because she's not afraid.
She's not worried that she's going to break it or lose a file. She doesn't worry that there's two buttons on the track pad of my wife's PC and none on my computer. If she can't scroll with two fingers on the pad, then she grabs the scroll bar, clicks and holds and moves down the page. She does all of this without hesitation and doesn't let something unfamiliar stop her from moving forward.
She's a critical thinker, a problem solver and a learner.
And she's only 8.
Let's all take a lesson from her and from the rest of the children that are digital natives:
Let them go. Stop putting limits on them because we feel uncomfortable. Let them go and follow them and learn.
Stop saying "don't do that" and start saying "Wow, I didn't expect that to happen. I learned something new."
This post wasn't as much about Google Glass as it was about potential.
I'll make a prediction. At the start of next school year or very close to it, a 9 year old girl will be sporting a pair of Google Glass that used to be mine.
And she'll use them without fear.
And I'll learn from her.
Watch out, Mrs. Waffenschmidt, it's going to be a lot harder to hide from her.
I've posted before about privacy and concerns associated with Glass and I think, in the education community, we need to be respectful of privacy issues and up-front when we take pictures. Here's what got me thinking about it:
I was reading a post on the Google Glass in education community on Google+ about a man who had Glass knocked from his face and then stepped on to let him know his ability to take pictures was unwelcome. It was a short post and I don't know all the details (he may have had it coming) but the post made my ears perk up. I continued to read the comments and responses to the post and was extremely surprised at the number of people who commented about reactions they're having to Glass.
For the most part, people posted that they were up front about taking pictures and it was well recieved as long as the pictures didn't include the person. Kind of like "take a pic of my stuff but leave me out of it." The responses (more than one) continued to indicate that taking a pic with Glass was forbidden, but pull out your phone and take as many as you like. It seems like the understanding that it's the same thing is lost.
As I reflect on this I really only have two comments:
I have never come across a single person who is angry about Glass or anything other than interested. I've had a few with concerned questions and one with a request to not take a picture (I think it was in jest, but I respeced it nonetheless).
People need to understand the technology and the role it does or can play in our lives. I appreciate the opportunuty to be a Glass Explorer. Not because it's some elite group, but because I have the opportunity to share and educate people about it.
As this moves into mainstream use and students start showing up with any type of wearable tech we need to be prepared to share with them the safety, responsibility and potential of the tech. Through education of the public as well as the children we'll avoid a potentially eruptive response and learn to accept and embrace the future.
Not literally, at least, but today I read an article (Huffington Post) and had a conversation with another educator that was looking at a different side of the technology. The article was written by a Junior in high school who was complaining about the iPad 1:1 she was dealing with in high school. To sum it up she felt as though too much technology was being forced on students; it would be more appropriate to not require the use of it.
The conversation I had questioned the validity of limiting students to one tool (Word or Google Docs) without getting them prepared for the "real" world. It was a good conversation and, like most, I walked away with more to think about which leads me to this forum to share it with you.
Google Glass. This represents a new technology, a wearable, accessible technology. As the girl from high school indicated, are we jumping on board with the newest fad or are we actually providing something worthwhile for our children's education. Many of the conversations I have with students connects with the "neat" and "cool" factors. I think I'm going to have to get it into their hands and let them try it in school to see if they get the same feeling that it's too much.
Moving forward I'm curious to see how Ann's students react to the integration of Glass in the class (we talked briefly today about it) and what creative ideas they come up with.
I'm still trying to wrap my head around the Huffington article. Was it written by a student who wants to be removed from responsibility that accompanies a 1:1 environment or is she earnestly tired of being connected and in need of a break.
My gut reaction is to question the use of the tool. Is it furthering her learning or just keeping her busier?
Well I'll have to start by saying that I'm no where near as witty when it comes to glass puns and references, so the titles of the daily blogs are less likely to entertain (I think Passing Glass was my favorite, but maybe because it meant that I got my hands on Glass!)
A little background - I'm a life science teacher at the high school level and I currently teach Anatomy and Forensic Science Classes. You may end up seeing posts from around my department as we play with and attempt to integrate Glass into our instruction. As for me personally, I look at the post Dave made with me sitting at my desk wearing Glass and I was instantly reminded of Geordi from Star Trek. I found an interesting site comparing Star Trek tech with current technology (wireless ear pieces for communication, body scanning devices, etc.) and it made me think about how I plan on using Glass in class.
Honestly, I've been spending the past three days trying to figure it out - set up isn't hard but getting used to using it has taken me a bit longer - and I haven't had any breakthrough ideas. I been contemplating live screen casting when I'm describing and performing a lab technique to give students the correct perspective. Perhaps I could document some of my classroom activities on video as I'm working on my National Boards certification - but seriously, if I record and walk around the classroom the resulting video could make people seasick.
So I'm nearing the end of my first week and find myself without much to report! Like Dave's first week, much of what I've done is handed off glass to the students and watched them take pictures and wonder all of what it can do.
Ann Perry will be using Glass for the next two weeks as she works with her students to evaluate Glass in a HS Science environment. Look for her posts in this blog to see what she thinks and how it works out.
On another note, I spent quite a bit of time last night looking at different postings from others using Glass in their classrooms. Again and again I'm amazed at the creativity from educators when they encounter new technologies. I will keep you posted as the newest and greatest uses come out. Right now there's a lot of getting used to it and using the camera features with Glass.
I've also been contacted by a gentleman seeking his PhD who's looking for Glass being used in education. He's from Portugal and it makes me think about the wonderful power of the internet and social media to bring the world a little closer together. As he gathers information, he's going to be able to include observations from me, Ann and Josh as we use Glass at Pines. Really makes me think about how students can use current technology to connect to resources around the world. It makes the term "primary source" a little more meaningful when researching world events or culture.
Some time last week I woke to NPR news like I do every day and listened to a report about Germany. The report informed me in my half-awake state that Germany is prohibiting managers from emailing or calling staff members after work hours. The report continued to inform me that the reason was stress. Workers felt compelled to check the messages, respond and continue to "work" even when they were at home. The report also said England was also thinking of adopting this policy.
This made me think about the commercial played during or around the super bowl. This commercial (for Caddilac, I believe) boasted about America's push for more productivity, forgoing relaxation or vacation so we could claim that we were more innovative and hard working than the rest of the world.
This, naturally, led me to reflect on education and how "connected" we've become and what that means for our lives and the way we approach the education of our children. We have some amazing ways to be connected and stay connected. The question that has been popping into my head since I heard the report is this:
Are we expecting our children to remain connected in the same way as we're connected to our jobs?
Personally, I check my email every time the phone dings at me. Often I respond to or "switch" into work mode at all hours of the day. I don't really think of it any more as working after hours, I rather have evolved into this as part of my life.
As I've worn Glass for the past month I guess I've been failing to think of this aspect of Glass. We've got 1:1 and BYOD initiatives in place not only at NPSD but in schools around the country. This is not only giving our students access to technology and resources, but it's also giving them a connection at just about any time of the day. Would the inclusion of Glass add to the stress already present or provide a tool to allow less restrictive access? Another question I don't have the answer to, but one definitely worth thinking about.
Tomorrow I turn Glass over to the sciences. I'm excited and curious to see what direction it takes as an in-class teaching tool. I know Ann will have wonderful activities and provide outstanding observations.
This weekend I went to a fundraising banquet at a casino. I chose to leave Glass at home but I talked with some of the other guests and as soon as they realized what I was talking about the idea of privacy came up again. Most of them felt Glass would be a deceptive way to take pictures or record video. Granted, it was an older crowd, but the sentiment was universal. If we get to the point where we allow a device like Glass to be part of education, or at least when students start bringing any kind of wearable technology into the building I'm sure there will be discussions that are similar.
If we have one person in the school who doesn't want to be filmed will we ban the device altogether? Will Google ban under 18 from having it?
I'm going to predict Glass will provide the world with the next evolution in privacy expectations. Most people I know already take picture after picture with their phones and post them in some public forum.
Tomorrow I'm going to try and make a page attached to NPSD Glass where I can blog about issues related to technology in education. I will try my best to make these connected to Glass but I already think some of it will stray a little into other types of technology and education.
I didn't wear Glass today. I boxed it up and brought it to school in preparation for passing it on. I still have it, mind you, but it's not even home with me now. Without students and teachers around, I find it less appealing to wear. Most of what I do during the day when everyone else is out and about spring breaking is on a computer and, as I stated previously, I'm not the guy who posts everything he does.
I received a survey from Google today regarding Glass and my use of it. The survey was simple enough; asking questions about how much I wear it, how satisfied I am with it etc . . . . It made me think again about the exit strategy from the Explorer program and the move by Google into the mainstream culture with this unique wearable technology. Will there be some bonus from Google for my participation? Maybe a stock option?
I've heard comments (and probably thought of a few myself) about people with cell phones anchored inches from convenient pockets on belt clips and those who walk about with blue tooth headsets protruding from their ears. How is Glass any different than these other accessories? I guess it needs to be significant for the price point Google's shooting for when it's released.
It also makes me think about cell phones and their introduction and eventual integration into mainstream culture and schools. They were a curiosity, a nuisance, an obsession and eventually an essential. Is this the fate of Glass or will the ripple from the rock amount to nothing more than that, a ripple rather than a tsunami? I do know, from experience, there will be the sudden have and have not discussion once again as students and teachers start to bring it into the building.
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is a strong contender to 1:1 in education. Students allowed to use phones, laptops, tablets or any other device to further their educational experience. Some schools rely on this to defray the cost associated with equipping everyone for a level playing field. Glass won't cut it. It doesn't do enough yet to take the place of anything more productive that we already have. So I have to look at it like an accessory. I think Google would be OK with that.
The problem with BYOD that I see is everyone is invited to a playing field, but it's in no way level. The pressure is going to be put on education to make sure that the game is flexible enough to allow anyone access with whatever they bring; a pencil to a MacBook Pro. Definitely something worth discussing and talking about.
I'm a strong supporter of the "only a tool" philosophy and hope it continues to become an understanding of educators and students alike. That being said, how much of a shift is there going to be for people to understand access to information is cheap and easy and there needs to be a focus on processing and application of that information to continue to grow and thrive and become productive?
Anyway, back to Glass. I'm going to attend a banquet this weekend and I originally thought how great it would be to have Glass with me. Then I remembered it's being hosted at a casino and that's a huge no-no. I wonder if they take cell phones and other camera devices?
I also attended a Gamification session at the conference last week and it got me thinking about education being structured like a game (sometimes). Can Glass have a place for collaboration amongst students in a game-like scenario? Is this type of communication device akin to headsets and collaboration in online games? Are we going to be so connected in the world that we eventually move towards a hive-like structure?
Once again, I turn to the greatest pioneers of innovation: Science Fiction Writers. There has to be at least a dozen or more books I have yet to read that examine the impact of such technology and, in-turn, the effects of a truly "wired" society. Interesting train of thought if nothing else. Maybe Google's next advancement will be brain-wave reading implants to forgo the tell-tale "OK Glass" command I so frequently use now.
I recovered nicely today and was able to get outside a little and enjoy the sunshine. As the now dreaded weather reporters are telling us there is the potential for another 6-12" of snow in the forecast. If there's such a thing as divine intervention, we'll get 70 degrees and rain.
There's a definite comment that continues to surface when people first understand what Glass is and that I actually have it.
"Bet you've walking into a number of walls!"
If I take this literally, it's suggesting I'm so distracted by what's happening that I cannot focus on something I've been doing quite well for somewhere in the neighborhood of 38 years. And, since I can chew gum at the same time, I think I've mastered it.
If I take this figuratively, it's suggesting that I'm frustrated with the function of Glass and I'm ready to leave it behind or I cannot figure it out and need to call the help line.
There's an off-chance possibility I'm misinterpreting the comment and there are numerous complaints from the Wall (or Wahl depending on location) family regarding my stalking . . .
I assure you none of the above situations have happened. It does, however, lead me to philosophize about the implications. This internal discussion was fueled this evening by a report on NBC Nightly News regarding "cracking down" once again on texting and driving. Without getting too politically philosophical about it, the gist of the story was that texting and driving is as bad as drunk driving and something needed to be done about it. Up to and including a sort of texting field sobriety test.
The issue here is whether or not Google Glass or devices like Glass will be too much of a distraction to allow people to be safe. I support the no-text rules. I don't text and drive. I understand the allure of it and the desire people have to automatically pick up the phone and push buttons. It seems as though the issue becomes less of an issue of the physical typing and more of the engagement of the mind.
Can this distraction be transmitted to the classroom? Will devices like Glass only lead to one more avenue by which students (and staff) can become distracted? Should we balk at this and ban wearable technology to help students focus?
Pretty big questions. Luckily we've been asking these questions since computers first arrived at schools. Especially in 1:1 environments we have to constantly evaluate whether or not learning is taking place and at what level. Considering that "games" have been deemed a bad distraction (I disagree) in most instances and Glass really doesn't have many games; at least discreet ones. When I play Clay Shooter or Tennis it's hard not to laugh as I wobble around trying to line the target or ball up with my sites . . . let me correct my original statement. I have run into a wall before; playing tennis.
Back to the questions. I don't have a definitive answer. Part of this study, especially since we're on the edge of a change of the guard with my Glass, will determine how much of a distraction this wonderful little device will be and whether or not that distraction is worth the educational gains. Round One is as an instructional device and Round Two will need to be as a learning tool. I'm going to need to recruit a couple of students to test this out but I'm going to have to check on age requirements before I do. Currently Google only allows those 18 or older to participate in the explorer program.
Tomorrow may or may not be a primary post from me. Ann Perry, science teacher, friend and respected colleague will be taking over as soon as tomorrow and as late as Monday. I will, of course, continue to post in the form of comments on her entries. I may make an additional page that's more of a discussion open to anyone who cares to participate if I can figure out how to pull it off.
As far as the classroom distraction, five or so years ago I was told very specifically that it was impossible for students to listen to music and do anything else.
That pretty much sums it up. I spent the last two days ( half of Sat as well) sick in bed. I can honestly say I've never been that sick before. Ever.
Anyway, it forced me to unplug for a while. As a Tech Coach sometimes that's extremely hard to do. I'm trained to respond to a ding or quack or song clip as my phone, iPad, Glass dictates. While it wasn't nice at all to be sick I did have time to reflect on unplugging and Glass.
Our kids need to unplug once in awhile. It was 60 where we stayed this week and my kids walked the dog and played at the park. They set down Minecraft and Netflix in favor of sunshine and mud puddles.
In terms of Glass, I think it allows for this freedom a little. Untethered by a four walled room there is freedom to explore. Maybe it's just the opposite and it makes less room because you now have the power to be connected everywhere.
Tomorrow I'm hoping to maybe get out to the lake and try a little spring ice fishing. Although it's April and I'd much rather be out in my boat there could be some great panfishing.
It's Spring Break. We escaped from Northern Wisconsin and found a retreat at the in-law's house. I went for a walk with the dog this morning and was treated to a mostly snowless - definitely flooded area off the bike trail.
I was treated to a plethora of waterfowl, Bailey was teased by a variety of doves hiding in the long grass and I found impressions of gigantic turkey tracks in the soft clay of the trail. Good morning walk. While I walked I thought about Glass as a crowd-sourcing tool. Students wandering about collecting data and experiences and funneling them back to a central collection site. As an ornithologist's companion, I would expect it to have a focus. I'll stick to a DSLR or something definitely designed to take a better picture.
After breakfast I couldn't resist doing a little research for the trap club. OK, so it's for Rachel, but if the trap team could use this and record the 10 seconds or so after "pull" it would be a great way to review their shooting. BTW, the over-under you see here fits me well, Rachel prefers the side-by coach gun we looked at. Good, it's cheaper.
Lastly, our "date" finished up with a stop at Wildside bike, ski and climbing store in Baraboo. The gentleman you see in the picture is Jeff Vogtschaller from UW Madison. He works at the store one day a week.
What a great conversation we all had about Glass and I was thrilled to see the gears turning and the ideas he came up with for himself and students. Specifically, instruction about climbing (4H) to share with students. Rachel and I agreed that it's exciting and exhilarating to speak on an intellectual level about it. Lots of ideas and connections with Jeff.
Pretty much from 4:30 until 9:30 PM I've been asleep. Somewhere along the way in the past week I've picked up a bug and it's put me down for the count. I'm resurfacing just long enough to catch the second half of the Wisconsin game. 41-41 right now.
OK, so I swore I wouldn't use the obvious title Through the Looking Glass because it's SO obvious and cliche'. Obviously, tonight, I'm Mr. Cliche'.
Lewis Carroll wrote of glorious and unusual adventures through the eyes of Alice, the girl who chased the rabbit.
I can't go back to yesterday because I was a different person then .
I wonder if this quote will be true when I hand off Glass in just over a week? I also wonder if this is true of the technology we have and how we should view this. Imagine life without a cell phone . . . or your smartphone. Have these tools begun to define a generation or the society in which we live? How would Alice have have reacted if the world she was transported into involved mad people talking into thin air having a conversation with someone miles away? Lewis Carroll loved his camera, how would he react to a person walking around with one on his head?
In our world, the one in which we walk around in every day, there are spectacular wonders popping up all over the place. On more than one occasion at the WISN conference I heard whisperings as I walked by about " . . . that guy with Google Glass." It's hard to imagine after the countless number of conversations I had with students and adults over the past two days that a year from now this device could become as common as . . . the iPhone. Amazing when it first came out but now another bleep and bloop in an increasingly competitive world.
Some highlights from my trip through the Glass.
Sitting in a session.
Presenting a session.
Jimmy John's is fast making subs but not as fast as the employee that asked about Glass and then tried them on. Wonder what he's talking about tonight.
Waiting for my ride in a parking lot off Hwy. 51. No snow! It's exciting to me; there's 4 feet at home on the ground.
By far and large my favorite part. I believe a standing ovation is reserved for only the most special and spectacular performances. I don't cave into peer pressure and stand for everything. I gladly stood and smiled as this outstanding group of children wowed the entire room.
So, onto my deep thoughts for the conference. To start, what a wonderful group of dedicated people.
I thought about things I'd never thought before
Things I'd thought before I thought again
The thoughts I thought were good thoughts needed rethinking
I think some thoughts more thoughtfully
I thought with thinkers
Recharge, refresh, relax, retain. Good conference.
Back to Glass.
I've taken to the habit of removing Glass and hooking it into my shirt collar when I enter the restroom. Even then I opt for the confinement of the stall so I don't make people nervous. Something to think about if these become part of education. How much do we trust students? We don't make them leave cell phones outside the facilities. (BTW I always choose the private staff bathrooms at school)
Kids are ready for this. They were excited, polite, interested and fascinated when I talked to them. Adults were also excited, but not in the same way. Adults seemed like it was neat and cool and were curious about it; kids were all about "This will be mine some day." and were comfortable in their amazement.
I guess I expected to see another pair of Glass at the conference. I don't know why, but I was surprised that there wasn't more exposure to it from the crowd. I may have to expand my test group to others in other districts. It's begging to have a presentation at TIES regarding its use. Time to hit up the other educators using it this spring to present with me. Maybe it's going to be commercially available. I predict that if 2014 is the year, Christmas is going to get slammed with it.
Be prepared for the onslaught of broken Glass posts as I enter spring break and relax with Glass.
Great day spent in conferences at the Wisconsin Innovative Schools Network conference! Lots of opportunities to spend talking with other educators about their schools and show off Glass in the meantime. Some of the best part of the conversations was with students working at the conference as they tried Glass on and had the same "wow" factor adults have when they see the screen light up before their eyes.
Most of my pictures today were taken of me when others were wearing Glass. The kids working were very professional, attentive and polite. I love to see this kind of authentic learning situation. Nice Job!
Some great questions asked and discussions had about the usefulness of Glass with the lower grades. In the end, I've come to the conclusion that, in a learning situation, Glass very much can be used like crowd-sourcing. We crowd-source for information and funding, why not do the same thing for education? Imagine this: You ask students to investigate something (let's say a field trip situation). Instead of small groups or presentations, you have 20-30 students all collecting and funneling the data into a central location (maybe a Google+ page) or sharing with one another. Suddenly, you've enabled the entire class to share the experiences with one another.
Plus, you can communicate with the students, they can access the internet for information, communicate with one another . . . the list can go on. What an exciting time in education!
Anyway, I haven't decided if I'm going to brave the Gala event tonight. It would be a great way to communicate and connect with others in education and then process that information. Plus they have prizes. I have 5 minutes to decide so if I post again later I probably went.
Another short post. Unreliable internet so I'm typing with sausage fingers on a smart phone. I was lucky enough to spend another say at SOAR Charter school today. I love working in that environment. I have great pics that I will share later from tearing apart a chromebook with several highly engaged kids. Glass was a great way to capture the moment as it was happening in a candid way.
On the way for the WISN conference we stopped at a Culvers and by the time we left the staff worked up the courage to ask about Glass. I patiently and proudly showed them and let them try it on. I wonder how they're sharing that experience tonight with their friends.
I'm excited for the conference tomorrow and hope to have some great experiences to share tomorrow.
Fatigue has finally set in. I've been running in overload for far too many days, so this is going to be a short post.
I feel, at the end of the day, like there was a lot that Glass had to do with today, but very little that I have recorded on video. Maybe it's becoming so integrated into my life that the novelty of it is finally wearing off. Who knows?
I had a few great conversations with teachers outside the high school. These conversations included information about Glass and the possibility for others to see and use it in classrooms. As I prepare for the end of the week and conference I'm curious to see how I'm going to use it in the professional development realm at the conference.
Anyway, I've solidified two teachers that will for sure use it during the next month and a half. One for sure will take over posing on this blog and the other will run a separate blog that I will link to.
By the time I got to Land O Lakes it was -18. This type of photo is called a Viginette. It does not stand for "driving while playing with Glass." The upper right is what I see in the display of Glass. It doesn't exactly look like this, but it's pretty close. I'm going to figure out how to do a Viginette video sometime soon.
Yesterday I went to the coffee house behind my house. It's a screen house I built several years ago. My wife and I go out there to hide from the kids . . . I mean, to relax and have morning coffee. Two years ago I'd already been fishing in the boat on local lakes for 3 days. Sitting out there reminds me of this.
It's 41" and I caught it nearly 20 years ago. It's out here because I lost. There are quilts on the walls in the house and the fish is out here.
Educationally, I hung out with some 4K kiddos this morning and they lined up and were excited to try on Glass. I love to make the connection between them, high schoolers and adults. The look of wonderment and surprise is the same. We need more wonderment in our lives.
I talked to the second candidate for passing on Glass today as well. I appreciate the excitement and passion he showed towards trying it out. I'm glad I can accommodate; even though I'm the one that gets the great data and can further understand the usefulness of Glass in the classroom. By my calculations, I'll get it back just after the opening fishing weekend and I'm hoping to be out in the boat. With three feet of ice on the lakes I think I'm wishing a little too much.
I've heard from several people now that have attended conferences and met people that are also Google Glass explorers. Educators none-the-less. I hope I meet some fellow explorers at the WISN conference at the end of the week and we can talk about their experiences with Glass in the classroom.
I have an idea. Based on the above Viginette, I'm not sure it's a good idea, but it's an idea. The more I think about the usefulness of Glass the more I want to sit down with local law enforcement and show them. I want them to recognize it and be aware of it and let me know what they think about it. I could see this being extremely useful in their line of work. As long as they don't enforce a "no driving with Glass" law because of it. I may have to come back and edit this if they do.
Sorry if this ends up being a long post, but I have things to say.
First, some background. There are a few things I always am no matter where I am or what I'm doing. I'm a father, a husband and a teacher. I cannot turn any of these things off, nor do I want to. I have two daughters equally brilliant in their own way and a wife who shares the same passionate approach to life that I do.
So, today I spent time with my youngest daughter while the other two human occupants of the house were doing other things. Our interaction started off with a casual question about "playing" with the Lego robot. I have one of the SOAR EV3 robotics kits at the house so I can use it and understand it and then when it comes time to work with the SOAR kids, I know what I'm talking about. For the past week or so I've been fishing with comments to try and hook one of my kids into sitting down and building and programming it with me. Selfishly, I get to spend time with them; unselfishly, I get to incorporate schoolwork at home with family time.
Today I got a bite and Evelyn joined me. She's 8. There are a lot of things Evelyn is: beautiful, energetic, intelligent, deceitful, imaginative, musical . . . the list can go on and on. There's one thing she's not: a motivated student. Countless numbers of nights have gone by with arguments, tears, threats and pleading about homework and the value of education. I have to give credit to her teacher this year, she's done something with my child to make her excel. All the worries about her reading level and aversion to education have been lessened because of the wonderful things her teacher does. Not that any of her other teachers have done anything wrong, but something's clicking in school now. She's still reluctant, but I can see that she's learning.
So when we sat down today to play with the robot, I didn't have high expectations that she would stick around for very long. She loves Legos, but the EV3 doesn't really look a lot like your typical robot. I had built a tank version myself last weekend and didn't have time to program it. Evelyn sat down with me and we made a plan for what she wanted it to do. She drew a map, we numbered the different events we'd need to input and got started.
My jaw dropped as this attention deficit, squirming little girl performed trial after trial with the robot. At one point she was even inputting the new data into the computer. I was amazed at the combination of math (decimals and fractions), engineering (tracks didn't cut it, we switched to rubber wheels), science (she kept talking about friction) and art (music - you can select specific notes to play on the robot) she was using together. She collected data, changed it sometimes by tenth, to get the robot to do what she wanted. And then she shared it with everyone in the house.
It took us over an hour to get the programming done right. I interjected lessons where I could and explained to her what we were doing. She was coding at 8 years old. She was following the scientific method and focusing on what she was doing for longer than 10 seconds.
And then we spent another hour tearing it apart and started building a robotic arm.
Here's the point. Engagement. I took an unmotivated student and presented her with a way to learn and experiment. The technology we have available can be the bridge we sometimes need to engage students in their education. Google Glass may be one of those bridges. It still takes highly qualified people that can recognize and present our children with engaging activities to motivate them to learn.
I cannot thank her teacher enough for her contribution to Evelyn's success and I cannot stress to the rest of the educators in the world that there are engaging activities and lessons that we can use. It takes lots of work, planning and collaboration but it's well worth it.
STEAM - Science Technology Engineering Arts and Math http://www.steamedu.com/