Imagine an elementary school teacher talking to her class about Ellis Island. One of the students asks the name of the first immigrant to arrive, but the teacher hasn’t seen that information in her preliminary research.
Now, imagine the teacher tapping the frame of her glasses, asking the question and seconds later hearing the name of the 15-year-old Irish immigrant — Annie Moore.
At West Magnet Elementary School in Batesville, faculty members and teachers have experimented with Google Glass.
Library Media Specialist Ashley Cooksey said that since receiving Google Glass in April, teachers in the school have been thinking of applications for the classroom. One of the advantages to Google Glass is teachers’ ability to find the answer to questions without taking their eyes off the children, she said.
Google Glass is a device worn like a pair of glasses that displays information in a hands-free format. When activated, the wearer can interact with Glass through voice commands, head gestures, winks and touch.
Cooksey said she was at a conference at the end of March and beginning of April when she heard about the pilot program to receive and test Glass. When she got back to West Magnet Elementary School, she asked her principal and technology director about the ability to use Glass. Because the school already uses Google Apps and Chromebooks, the integration of Google Glass would be natural, she said.
Cooksey applied to be part of the pilot program and a week later got the news that she had been selected and could purchase the device.
“I was jumping up and down,” she said. “I was so excited we were chosen.”
The school had the money to buy two Glass devices at $1,500 each, and Cooksey said they arrived just days after she placed the order. Cooksey said she wears hers to get the students used to seeing them.
“I wear them every day,” Cooksey said. “We wanted to get the kids used to them. When we first got them, the kids were touching and grabbing at our faces.”
Computer-lab teacher Denise Hogan said she wore them for a while, but they were cumbersome with her regular glasses. Other teachers and faculty have tried hem out and students at West Magnet Elementary are used to Glass, Cooksey said.
Some teachers at the school suggested that Glass could be used to record kinetic lessons, such as science experiments, so students can see what they should be looking at from the correct perspective.
“If I’m doing something on the computer, I can do a video of what I’m seeing instead of taking just a video of me,” Hogan said. “It’s about that perspective.”
The Glass infrastructure is still being developed, but Cooksey and Hogan said there is potential for virtual field trips with Google Hangouts, translation apps for students who are learning English as a second language and resources for new teachers who might want to record and review some of their first lessons to make improvements.
Throughout this process, Cooksey said, she has connected with the MyGlass website where she can ask questions and share insight with other Glass users.
“I have posted a few questions on there and almost immediately got a reply,” Cooksey said. “There’s a lot of feedback and communication.”
With all of the new features and options technology is bringing to schools, Cooksey and Hogan said it is important to realize technology is just a tool and not a substitute for learning.
“It’s something we have to teach,” Cooksey said. “We have to say it’s a tool, not a crutch to lean on. Especially as they get older, they ask why they can’t just look up an answer, but we tell them they have to learn it and work it out.”
Staff writer Angela Spencer can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or firstname.lastname@example.org.