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 was – “yes, I consider it an investment.” I’m not rich enough to have bought Google Glass to show off and to have a new toy. I have several reasons for committing my money to this device. It’s the same reason I spend so much time on social media and mobile devices. They are integral to my work and my life-long learning. I believe wearable computing and the internet of things (pervasive/ubiquitous computing) will be part of the next wave of technologies that I will need to be ready for as a higher education technology professional. I bought Google Glass as part of my preparation and learned 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 how we conduct our business and provide support and an environment for student learning. Privacy, ethics, and confidentiality issues must be considered, and policies must be adjusted. I don’t know what to expect as I learn how Google Glass works. I know that part of learning involves encountering new ideas that will lead me to questions that 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 video that teaches you how to play, but until you try hitting a golf ball, you don’t know how it feels. Until you’ve played golf, you don’t see 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 as you walk or ride the course and how the newly-cut grass smells until you’ve been on the golf course. You won’t know how it feels 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 “experience” of the good and the bad. Similarly, while I had read several articles on how folks react to Google Glass (both negatively and positively), including this post,  the reports 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 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 local companies’ web/database consulting projects to 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 to figure out why a few of my colleagues 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 shared my interests. I found a community of student affairs professionals through the #sachat hashtag. I observed how folks interacted and the terminology 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 (primarily through my mobile devices), I realized how much self-directed learning I could accomplish using these technologies. 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 learning new technologies takes time and effort. 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 experiencing them are different. As I’ve already learned in the short time I’ve had Google Glass, the next few months will provide me with 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 the internet of things are successive waves 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 significant challenges to IT regarding data security and supporting end users. What new issues/opportunities do wearable computing present? How do we get ready for wearable computing?


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

Use of Google Glass for Mobile Learning:

Google Glass provides learning opportunities anytime and anywhere, 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 more effective ways 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 the ideas in this post? I can think of future cases of alleged academic misconduct using Google Glass, and Judicial Affairs (JA) officers had to prove a student did cheat. If JA officers don’t 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 use electronic medical records? How about covering events? How do we use Google Glass for virtual communication? A few 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 unavailable. 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 sees and also interact with them?

Impact of Google Glass (and other wearable computing) and computer-mediated communication (CMC) on 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 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 want to explore how Google Glass fits into different interpersonal communication theories. In the early days of the internet, online systems were primarily text-based. Hence, conversations lacked visual reactions from participants, which led to some conclusions 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 changed.  How soon should one expect a text message, voice mail, and phone callsallalls? With wearable computing, how will these expectations change? How will it change how students construct their digital identities and relationships with others online? What are the etiquettes when it comes to the use of Google Glass?

 I will share my experience (good/bad) and 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 regarding Google Glass?

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