Experienced Educators Riff on Heads Up Display Possibilities
Three weeks ago I had the privilege of sitting down for lunch with a group of experienced educators at the New England GAFE Summit who are all using Google Apps for Education in their practice. I posed a question to the group, “What would you do with Google Glass?”
Let me back up. As a resident of Menlo Park, California, nearby to Palo Alto, I have seen Google Glass prototypes in the field. These are heads up displays (HUDs) that allow a person to augment their daily experience with an overlay of information relevant to their immediate experience. Think of Schwarzenegger’s sunglasses in the Terminator that helped him find Sarah Connor. Those are an example of a heads up display; only the current version has a graphical interface that is far superior to that donned by Arnold in 1984 – really.
“Facial recognition to learn names.” Offered one of the teachers.
“Take more pictures.” Said another.
For a few minutes, we convinced ourselves that the HUD is just a fancy camera that would let us take more pictures and learn names of students at the beginning of the year more quickly. Then, the ideas began to flow.
If Google’s facial recognition capability is built-in, there is no reason that student records couldn’t be associated with the student face. It would be awfully easy to take attendance by quickly sweeping the class.
And it couldn’t be too hard to marry the student identification with a list of missing assignments, a graphic that displays a student’s recent performance trajectory on exams, and any alerts flagged in the SIS like a death in the family, a recent move, or a change in the English proficiency level.
If the HUD is intelligent enough to associate database information with a face, shouldn’t it also be possible to send documents captured in the class to that student’s digital documentation system; his or her Google Site in Google Apps, for example. Maybe they have just solved a problem on a whiteboard and are ready to present the solution. You film their performance and with the click of a button a Youtube video is linked to that student’s site for the day.
To take it a step further, we imagined what it would be like to use the HUD in one to one classroom where devices communicated with the HUD by NFC – thereby geographically locating students in their desks. Would the HUD be able to read student feedback about their understanding of a topic, and then generate a heat-map of the classroom, perhaps producing a colored filtering that would help a teacher know where to spend their time helping small groups?
All of these examples show how the HUD could theoretically make us more efficient, but what about enhancing our intelligence? What if when you address a student by name and mention the topic you are studying, the HUD could retrieve formative assessment data on that student from their online work and suggest conversational questions to help a teacher begin the Socratic process that drills down to misconceptions and builds back up understanding?
What if, in my Utopian/Dystopian (take your pick) blended learning environment where students spend some of their time in independently paced study the HUD could provide a teacher with real time updates about progress? I look in their direction and the HUD colors them green, yellow, or red based on their pace? That would be cool!
I am impressed by the voice recognition software Google has built into my Android phone. I would use it more, but for the awkward way I feel whenever I am slowly enunciating commands, and forgetting whether it is the low or high pitched beep that signals when to start talking. Take away the beeps, put the intelligence in my glasses, and make sure that I never get any suggestions like what Schwazenegger says to the hotel cleaning man when the guy asks if he has a dead cat in his room. Then we might have something that could significantly change what it looks like to be a teacher.