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Do you think academics will forever be dismissed by their students as uncool and out of touch? Think again, because 2015 could be the year that wearable technology enters the classroom.
That’s according to lecturers at the University of Glasgow who have taken part in one of the biggest trials of Google Glass in UK higher education to date.
Academics exploring uses of the device’s in-built camera unexpectedly found that wearing the head-mounted display broke down barriers between staff 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.
Dr Dudau has been using Google Glass to record the classroom contributions of students, initially for research purposes, but the next step could be to use the camera to aid assessment of seminar contributions.
During group work, if more than one set of glasses was available, pairs could be distributed among students, allowing academics to mark participation that they did not witness at first hand.
Dr Dudau said she found that Google Glass had also freed her from having to adjust a video camera or take notes during sessions.
“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.
John Kerr, who is leading the trial as Glasgow’s learning innovation officer, said the feedback from students had been positive, too.
“If you have media production in the classroom, I fear it puts people off and stops students engaging in conversation,” he said. “The fact that the academic has got [an unobtrusive device] on their face means it doesn’t ‘jump out’ and students forget that they are being recorded, so they are much more open to discussing things.”
Although the limited battery life and current £1,000 price tag of Google Glass may hinder its uptake, Mr Kerr said such technology could yet become a tool that “will probably change the way some academics teach [their] students”.