Could Wearable Tech Like Google Glass Play a Role in Connected Education?

We’re not quite at the stage of all being cyborgs, but the wearable computing market is growing, and the number and type of devices is also increasing. One form in particular that has a great deal of potential for many hands-free uses is the HUD (Heads Up Display) mounted in the form of goggles or glasses.

These types of wearables already come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from as light as the Google Glass to the more bulky Oculus Rift (which was acquired by Facebook in Mar 2014 for $2B). The Rift isn’t exactly something you can use in everyday activities, given its form factor and that it covers half your face. However, the Google Glass is lightweight and seems almost unobtrusive. It also has a lot of uses for education — be it for grade school, high school, college, or beyond.

Wearable Educational Technology: Facts and Figures

Google Glass: Market Potential and Specifications

A Google executive anonymously interviewed by the NY Times in Feb 2013 indicated that the company has hopes that Google Glass will make up 3% of its revenue by 2015. While this is fairly aggressive given the current price and the fledgling app market for the device, it’s possible.

  • Google Glass is currently only available to developers and priced at $1500.
  • There is a GDK available, but at $1500, it’s a significant investment for developers let alone consumers.
  • It’s expected to be offered to the general public by mid-2014, and become mainstream by 2016.
  • Business Insider (BI) Intelligence believes the price is likely to drop gradually, with an average of $500 per unit over time.
  • Expectations are 21M unit sales per year by the end of 2018.
  • This translates into a $10.5B market per year.
  • BI expects the price will be $600 per unit by 2015, then drop further.
  • Sales estimates by BI are:
  • 2014: ~831K units
  • 2015: ~2.468M
  • 2016: ~3.740M
  • 2017: ~10.62M
  • 2018: ~21.15M

Here are the actual specs on Glass:

  • HUD screen is equivalent to viewing a 25-inch HD screen from a distance of 8 ft.
  • Camera: 5 MP resolution for still photos; 720p for videos.
  • Audio uses bone conduction transducer
  • Networking: Wi-FI 802.11 b/g, Bluetooth
  • Can connect to any Bluetooth-enabled phone.
  • 16GB flash memory — 12GB usable.
  • Syncs with Google cloud storage.
  • Battery life: one day on average use.
  • Micro USB charger.
  • SMS messaging and GPS capabilities requires the MyGlass app, which runs on Android 4.0.3 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and up. There’s an Apple iOS version as well.

Drawbacks of Google Glass and Similar Wearable Computing

There are some drawbacks to using any type of device like this, though many issues may simple go away if this type of wearable becomes commonplace.

  • Has a short battery life. One day is okay with average use, but if you’re an outdoorsy type or athlete and want to capture images and video, the Glass battery is likely to run out before the end of a day.
  • Could be a distraction to certain activities, such as driving. (It’s currently illegal in many states to drive with Google Glass operational, and you might be pulled over and ticketed even if it’s not active. One California driver fought this and had her fine thrown out in court.)
  • Could be a target of abuse or even assault. Some early adopters have been assaulted in bars and other public places.
  • Requires you to speak all commands, which might be disconcerting to users in a sustained basis, as well as to onlookers when they see someone talking to themselves. What would be better is some way to sync an incoming stream via a mobile app so that, for example, you don’t have situations where an entire classroom of students are seemingly whispering to themselves. This may not work for other uses, such as on the street, or athletic uses, etc.
  • Privacy concerns regarding images of underage children and the ease of posting them online. (In most state, students under age of majority probably require permission from parents or guardian to be photographed or videotaped for use online.)
  • Google requires that teachers apply for a Glass device have read FERPA (Family Education Rights and Privacy Act) and any other legal documentation.

Educational and Training Uses

For convenience sake, we’ll refer to uses of Google Glass, but presumably many of the following would apply to any similar HUD device.

General Connected Ed

Connected education comes in many forms and goes beyond classrooms and to those of us long-since finished school. Here are a few possible uses of Glass.

  • Can be used for work training, for special procedures or equipment.
  • Could be used by athletes to supplement workout footage that might be taken by a coach, in order for the athlete to learn to improve.
  • Could be used by coaches to demonstrate a technique from their own perspective. For example, a track and field coach might record how they approach a high jump while athletes in training are watching, and can later watch the coach’s viewpoint.
  • Could be used for a variety of how-to videos. For example, to augment cooking videos with footage from the perspective of the chef, including voiceover.
  • Language learning tool combined with Google Translator.
  • Distance learning via Glass, instead of on a computer or laptop.

Public and Private School Education

Many of the following are actual uses by grade school teachers, but several uses apply to high school and college as well. Applications range from student-worn uses of Glass to teacher-worn uses.


  • For orientation of new students at colleges or large high schools.
  • For identifying buildings by combining Google Goggles mobile app and an on-campus map.
  • For displaying supplemental material during lectures.
  • For closeup viewing of lab demonstrations when there isn’t room for all students to stand close by.
  • For safe viewing at a distance of lab experiments that are potentially dangerous — whether broadcast from Glass or to Glass (one per student) or to an overhead screen.
  • Screencasting takes on a new angle, literally — from the perspective of the lecturer.
  • Class schedule for easy access.
  • Medical training: teaching student doctors surgery techniques.
  • One doctor is using Glass to record medical techniques applied to mannequins, with discussions to follow with students in Google Hangouts.
  • In one scenario, a live recording from Glass to remotely teach students.
  • In another scenario, one doctor was preparing to operate on the “patient” (mannequin), with an assistant broadcasting the operation with an iPad to a remote doctor wearing Glass to view the procedure. The remote doctor could then advise on the operation. In the meantime, students in another room could also watch the procedure.

Grade School and High School

  • Getting students acquainted with the technology.
  • For students to document (still photos, video) their classroom activities, or during field trips to a farm, garden (or museum, etc). This could be done with a video camera, but it’s so much easier with the Glass, leaving both hands free.
  • For learning while participating. E.g., learning about snowflakes, outside, while looking at actual snow.
  • For making short instructional / how-to films, which can show the point of view of the Glass wearer. E.g., one teacher asked students to use Glass to teach people how to do something, such as ride a bike.
  • To record practice videos. E.g., students can wear Glass while solving a math problem, to record the process and provide voice over. These videos can be emailed to parents for students practice.
  • Diagnostic videos. Students can wear Glass and record activities such as applying a certain painting style, building something, etc., which allows teachers to review students’ motor skills.
  • To record student presentations and performances for later viewing.
  • Tool for students to create visually-rich presentations.
  • Quick voice-based search for instructors for related topics or past class material, which can then be screencast to students or to an overhead projector (possibly via a smartphone or tablet).
  • For live field trips, to supply information and instructions to a group from an app that a teacher would control — say on a smartphone or tablet.
  • Since Glass has GPS, teachers could monitor students during field trips.
  • Virtual field trips. Andrew Vanden-Heuvel teaches advanced physics mostly online to students at schools without such classes. He also used Glass to transmit his tour of the CERN Large Hadron Collider in Europe to students watching via Google Hangouts.
  • To encourage remote group work amongst students, or for students to help each other with homework.
  • For remote tutoring, whereby tutor and student can use paper at both locations instead of screen sharing software.
  • Remote class for students at home, sick enough not to attend school but well enough to participate remotely. (Teacher would broadcast the class.) This also works for homeschooled students, for supplemental courses.
  • Attendance taking tool for teachers, using facial recognition software.
  • Teachers can capture notes about classroom activities in Evernote Glassware version for later consumption on a different computing device.
  • Teachers can record their own teaching process and use the video for review, or provide them to student teachers for their learning purposes — either as a live broadcast or for later viewing.
  • For assessing the performance of student teachers, who would wear the Glass and record their classes.

These are just a sampling of the educational uses people are getting of devices such as the Google Glass. As the technology improves and is more affordable, we’re bound to see more educational uses.


Information for this article was collected from the following pages and web sites: