Education is already seeing some major changes in light of new, cutting-edge computer technologies. Students can now access educational information from virtually anywhere at any time, and mobile devices are influencing some to flip their classrooms, changing the educational experience altogether. While current information technologies are making waves, further changes linked to upcoming technologies may be on the horizon. One of the most hyped and anticipated devices over the past year has been Google’s soon-to-be-released glasses. These glasses will enable users to get real-time information about the places, people, and objects around them, right on the lens of the glasses. While it will be a long time before these glasses ever show up in the classroom (they currently cost $1,500 and are available only to developers), when they do, educators and students can expect to see some of these amazing changes to the educational experience.
- Immersive educational experiences will be possible.
At a developers’ conference this year, Google live-streamed footage of skydivers, BMX bikers, and rappellers wearing Google’s high-tech glasses to the audience in the conference hall via Google+ Hangout. While the demonstration was innovative at the time, it’s possible that this kind of shared first-person experience could become common if the glasses become popular computer and tech tools. This opens up a whole host of potential immersive educational experiences that could change how students learn about a wide range of topics. Students could explore jobs, locations around the world, and even historical places through the glasses, without ever having to leave the classroom. It sounds a bit like science-fiction, but the technology to make it possible isn’t far from being affordable and accessible to all.
- Educational apps will get whole new ways to be implemented.
Instead of having to use Android smartphones and tablets in the classroom, students will be able to access many of the same features and programs right through their Google Glasses. That includes any educational apps that are available through Android (or that will be in the future). While iPads and other mobile technologies are already transforming classroom gaming and learning, the glasses could take it one step further, as they offer new ways for students to interact with visual imagery, text, and other learning resources. Educational app developers won’t ignore this new opportunity to engage students, and new tech means new, more innovative apps, too.
- Disruptive technology may actually get more disruptive.
While many students today manage to use smartphones and tablets in class without texting friends or surfing the web, that isn’t to say that these devices aren’t potential distractions. When they’re transformed into glasses, the potential for distraction is even greater, as the technology is, literally, right in front of students’ faces. The glasses could make it hard to teachers to keep students on task and to encourage them to think for themselves rather than just referencing information on their glasses. In order to prevent this, schools will need to develop strong plans of action to deal with classroom use, especially in test-related situations where cheating could become an issue.
- Memorization will take a backseat to problem solving and complex thinking.
With Google glasses on their faces, students won’t even need to type in a query to get information. They can simply ask the glasses what year a battle was, to calculate sums, or find pretty much any kind of information. That doesn’t mean that memorization will become obsolete, but it will continue to decline in importance as information becomes ever more readily available for reference, anytime and anywhere. Students will increasingly be able to focus on finding ways to use that raw information to solve problems, be creative, or answer more in-depth questions, all tasks that will be essential in the coming decades.
- Traditional textbooks may be replaced.
Who needs a classic textbook when millions of books are available right in front of your eyes at the touch of a button? While tablets are already bringing e-books and e-textbooks into the classroom, Google’s glasses technology may turn the entire format on its head. Instead of reading books in a traditional format, students can have text, images, and even videos streamed right to their glasses. Students won’t need to bring books with them to class, as everything will already be available, on demand.
- Classes can take place anywhere.
Equipped with Google Glasses and a wifi connection, teachers can take their classroom just about anywhere. Since presentations and other visual and textual information can be viewed right from the glasses, teachers don’t need to bring along hefty projectors, white boards, or laptops; they’ll have all the media they need in one small device. What’s more, students who can’t make it to the actual classroom might even be able to participate virtually though a Google+ Hangout or other service.
- Field trips will take on a whole new dimension.
Visiting a historic landmark is cool, but it gets a lot cooler when students have the ability to instantly get information about the site as they move through it. Location-based information systems already exist in some places, but Google Glasses would help take them to the next level, making the information part of the visual and spatial experience of visiting just about anywhere. Even better, any questions about the trip that students have can instantly be answered, just by asking them to the device. It could build a much richer educational experience on field trips that can’t quite be replicated in classrooms today.
- They can remove the language barrier.
Learning a foreign language is an important asset in today’s global economy, and it can also seriously expand your mind and improve your language skills in your own native tongue. Yet, tools like Google Glasses may change how students view the language barrier, literally. Using Google Translate through the glasses, it is possible for students to instantly see and read what someone is saying in another language. This could make it possible for students on opposite sides of the globe to talk, share, and even collaborate. More importantly, it could foster a sense of global unity and cultural understanding that will prove incredibly valuable in the modern economy.