Friday, June 20, 2014

Racing Glass

And they're off!

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.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Frosted Glass

It didn't work out for Harlan.

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.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

New Glass

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.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Fish Bowl

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.

This is why I love what I do.