Executive Chairman of Google Eric Schmidt has announced that the company is not giving up on its Google Glass eyewear that comes with the capability to connect to the Internet – an invention with education implications – arguing that the technology is too important.
Google had recently stopped selling the first version of its Glass and even shut down its Explorer program earlier this year. The project has been moved out of its Google X lab and into a standalone unit, causing some to wonder whether the company would end the project all together. However, Schmidt reported that project leader Tony Fadell has been asked “to make it ready for users.”
“It is a big and very fundamental platform for Google,” Schmidt said. “We ended the Explorer program and the press conflated this into us canceling the whole project, which isn’t true. Google is about taking risks and there’s nothing about adjusting Glass that suggests we’re ending it.”
Alistair Barr writes in The Wall Street Journal that the product had been criticized as an invasion of privacy, as it allows the wearer to take photos and record videos without those around them knowing. A number of jokes began concerning the first wearers of the technology, sparking the use of the term, “glassholes.”
The technology is being used by a number of lecturers at the University of Glasgow who are taking part in one of the largest ever trials of Google Glass in UK higher education. A number of academics have discovered that wearing the technology has actually broken down a barrier between teachers and students.
“There was a coolness factor that I really appreciated and, in a way, I felt it brought me closer to my students,” said Adina Dudau, a lecturer in management.
While the glasses have previously been used to make note of student contributions within the classroom, Dudau said a further use would be to use the eyewear to allow teachers to keep track of student participation they do not witness by having the students wear them while working in small groups.
Dudau went on to say that the glasses allowed her to not need to take notes during or record her seminars.
“I could fully participate in the discussion and steer it in the way I wanted it to go, where necessary, without worrying about organisational things I had to do,” she said.
Learning innovation officer and trial leader John Kerr said the student response has been positive so far. While many students are reluctant to participate when faced with recording devices within the classroom, they seem more likely to forget they are being recorded when the unobtrusive glasses are being worn and an engaging conversation is more likely to take place.