google-glassA student saw my Google Glass the other day and asked me “Is it worth it?” It’s no secret the price of the device is $1500. My short response – “yes, I consider it an investment.” I’m not rich enough to have bought Google Glass for the purpose of showing off and just to have a new toy. Actually, I have several reasons as to why I decided to commit my money towards this device. It’s the same reason as to why I spend so much time using social media and on my mobile devices. They are integral to my work and my life-long learning. I may be mistaken but I believe wearable computing and internet of things (pervasive/ubiquitous computing) will be part of the next wave of technologies that as a higher education technology professional, I will need to be ready for. I bought Google Glass as part of my preparation and to learn more about these technologies that will become more common sooner than we think. These technologies will bring new opportunities and challenges in higher education in the way we conduct our business and how we provide support and environment towards student learning. Privacy, ethics, confidentiality issues need to be considered and policies will need to be adjusted. Frankly, I don’t know what to expect as I learn how Google Glass works. What  I do know is that part of learning involves encountering new ideas that will lead me to questions which will (re)-direct me to new topics I may not have considered before. Google Glass provides me with hands-on experience to help me in the learning process.

For me, technology is like golf. One can read all the instructional books and watch every videos that teach you how to play, but until you actually try hitting a golf ball, you don’t really know how it feels like. Until you’ve played golf, you don’t know how it feels to be angry at your errant shots and the missed putts, the frustrations of not having a better swing, and the exhilaration of draining that long putt or hitting that perfect drive. You won’t know how the wind feels like as you walk or ride the course and how the newly-cut grass smells like until you’ve been on the golf course. You won’t know how it feels like to be paired up with another not-so-nice golfer who feels the need to prove their superiority by demeaning your swing and playing mind games. This is all part of the “actual experience” consisting of the good and the bad. Similarly, while I had read several articles how folks react to Google Glass (both negatively and positively) including this post,  the articles could not provide me the experience and feeling of being called a “glasshole” and how to react when someone strongly expresses their anti-Google Glass opinion while I’m wearing them.

Learning how to use technology, like golf, also takes time and it takes effort. Learning never ends. This has been my experience with every major technology I’ve been introduced to since I became a professional in 1996. I spent countless nights in my office at the university (before remote access) learning how to code html, javascript, and Photoshop for the web. There were months when I would go home at 3 am, take a few hours of sleep and be back at work at 7:30 am. I accepted web/database consulting projects from local companies so I could learn how to develop classic ASP, ASP.Net, MS Access and SQL programming.

More than three years ago (Sept 9, 2010), I joined twitter because I was curious and frankly to figure out why a few of my colleagues just had strong views against it. Because I was not allowed to use twitter at work (at that time), I spent nights after nights at home learning it. I lurked at first and searched for folks who share my interests. I found a community of student affairs professionals through the #sachat hashtag. I observed  how folks interacted and the lingo they used. I slowly followed those folks and began to interact with them. What started as an act of curiosity has led me to opportunities and experiences I could not have envisioned when I joined twitter.As I became more comfortable using social media (mostly through my mobile devices), I came to realize how much self-directed learning I could accomplish using these technologies and from the folks I’ve met along the way. These folks are part of my Personal Learning Network (PLN).

Why did I mention my experience learning new technologies? For one, it’s because I’ve learned that it takes time and effort to learn new technologies. Secondly,  it’s only through actually using these technologies that I realized their benefits and the pitfalls that go along with them. As I mentioned, reading about technologies (and related topics)  and actually experiencing them are totally different. As I’ve already learned in the short amount of time I’ve had Google Glass, the next few months will provide me with actual experience and learning opportunities. In the next few months, here are some of the ideas i will be exploring:

Implications of wearable computing to IT:

Wearable computing and internet of things are the next wave of consumer technologies requiring the attention of IT departments. As I wrote in this post about Trends In Student Affairs Technology: Implications to IT, what challenges and opportunities do we need to consider? Cloud computing, social media, and mobile devices have posed big challenges to IT when it comes to data security and supporting end users. What new issues/opportunities do wearable computing present? How do we get ready for wearable computing?


Even to this day, organizations are still trying to retrofit existing websites and building new ones to be mobile friendly. Device-specific and responsive web designs are two common approaches currently used. These designs assume interfaces are screen-based, but how will we design for even smaller screens.  How about interfaces based on voice, visual, gestures, and even temperature? As part of this exploration, I will be learning Android Development to ultimately be able to develop Google Glass apps (glassware). I will also be exploring how I can combine Google Glass with other wearable devices like smart watches (Pebble) and sensors, like Spotter.

Use of Google Glass for Mobile Learning:

Google Glass provides learning opportunities anytime and anywhere just like smartphones and tablets today including e-reading, submission/collection of data from remote locations, and virtual communications. As a wearable device, how can we use Google Glass for learning in ways that are more effective than smartphones and tablets. How does Google Glass fit into teaching/learning concepts like Conversational Framework and constructivism.

Use of Google Glass in Student Affairs:

In what ways can we use Google Glass for business within student affairs in addition to ideas in this post? I can think of future cases of alleged academic misconducts using Google Glass and Judicial Affairs (JA) officers having to prove a student did cheat. If JA officers don’t even know how Google Glass works, how will they conduct the case? How about using Google Glass for accessibility to assist disabled students? Can student health centers use Google Glass to diagnose and for use with electronic medical records? How about covering events? How do we use Google Glass for virtual communication? Just a couple of days ago, I used Google Glass and Google Hang Out which enabled a colleague working remotely in a different city to join a meeting where video conferencing was not available. My colleague had the same view I had. How about a Google Glass/Hangout campus tour where students can remotely see what the campus tour guide see and also interact with them.

Impact of Google Glass (and other wearable computing) and computer-mediated communication (CMC) towards student identity development and community building:

Social media and mobile devices have provided ways for individuals to connect with others who share their interests to form virtual communities. They’ve also become tools to be able to build/maintain relationships beyond an individual’s geographic location (dating sites, for example). How students construct and present their online identities as well as how they conduct themselves as a result of CMC are topics I would like to explore further. I’d like to explore how Google Glass fits into different interpersonal communication theories. In the early days of internet, online systems were mostly text-based and so conversations lacked visual reactions from participants which led to some making the conclusion that online communication is not as effective as face-to-face (social presence theory). As technology progressed with faster bandwidth and more powerful mobile devices with video and text communication capabilities became more affordable, how individuals communicate also changed.  How soon should one expect a response from a text message, voice mail, and phone callls? With wearable computing, how will these expectations change? How will it change the way students construct their digital identities, their relationships with others online? What are the etiquettes when it comes to the use of Google Glass?

 I will be sharing my experience (good/bad) as well as my progress as I explore the topics above. I hope to be able to connect with others in higher education to explore the possibilities. What other issues/topics are you curious about with regards to Google Glass?

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