Library to Lend Google Glass

It begins with a simple command: "OK, Glass."

In a seemingly faraway box off to the right, a menu buzzes and brightens to life. Beneath fluttering eyelids, winks, and voice commands, Glass scrolls, calculates, whirs, and captures moments under handless controls. There is an entire world, a realm of resources, tucked away in a tiny compartment in the secondary vision of my right eye. I feel like I’m in a fishbowl, looking out upon one reality, and simultaneously immersed in the glowing screen before me.

Say hello to Google Glass. 

This spring, Honnold/Mudd Library will explore the potential use of Glass as a tool for research, teaching, and learning as members of the Claremont University Consortium (CUC) will have the opportunity to borrow Glass on a short-term basis beginning in March.

The Glass equipment arrived in late November, when a contact of the e-learning librarian Char Booth recommended that she join Google's approximately 40,000-member Glass Explorers Program, giving her access to the new technology. It cost $1,500, making it one of the library’s most expensive pieces of purchased technology.

“We wanted to provide that access to everyone at the 7Cs,” said Dani Brecher, the instructional design and technology librarian who is collaborating with Booth on the project.

Already, faculty members, students, and campus groups have expressed interest in using Glass in a variety of ways.

Google Glass is a hands-free, wearable computer with an optical head-mounted display that can respond to its user's natural voice commands and eye movement. Although the idea behind Glass technology is by no means new, its possible applications and social implications remain to be explored.

Honnold/Mudd Library hopes that the CUC will be able to use Glass to investigate possibilities for teaching and scientific innovation, as well as to start up discussions about the role of modern technology in the classroom.

“Within the library, we’re thinking about, 'How can we use it in our teaching? Does it have any teaching applications at all?'" Brecher said. "We don’t know at this point, but it’s something we’re testing."

CUC faculty members have expressed interest in using Glass as both a class discussion piece and a teaching tool. Brecher said that it could be used in the future in laboratory settings or with instructional videos. Keck Graduate Institute and the Minerva Project, a new higher-education model based out of KGI, are also interested in exploring Glass’s potential to enhance distance education.

However, students have been the most enthusiastic proponents behind Honnold/Mudd Library’s involvement with Glass.

“The biggest response we have gotten has been from students, who are really interested in seeing if Google Glass enhances their studying, provides different ways of accessing information and asking questions,” Brecher said. “They want to build apps for it, and try out all kinds of different things."

Brecher said that one student was particularly interested in using the Glass for music videos, while another hoped to record debates from the first-person perspective to examine speech techniques and track eye patterns in public speaking.

Computer science major Tim Taylor PO ’14 is also experimenting with Glass. He was able to acquire one over winter break in New York after a friend recommended him for the second round of Explorers, allowing him to purchase it for testing. Taylor has been using the technology daily, both in and out of class, as one might with a smart watch or smartphone.

“I love its convenience and features,” Taylor said. “I haven’t found it distracting, and it’s relatively easy to tuck in and out of. Glass is no more or less invasive than what we already have. The barrier of entry is slightly lower.”

He added that he is very happy that the technology has come to the CUC. 

“I think it’s going to change the way we relate to information," he said. "It’s a device that needs to be experienced and not described, and one demo unit is a step in the right direction.”

The Glass equipment at Honnold/Mudd Library can be checked out for up to five days by students, faculty, and staff through an application process. Glass is fully booked through May, with the first checkouts beginning in early March.

The application can be found online at http://bit.ly/CCLglass.