Find me at Siriusreflections.org

Free Range

Free Range –
Windswept spring wheat on my family’s homestead in Western Kansas.

This blog, which served as a useful place to process our work in the New Media Seminar in Spring 2013 is no longer active.  I have a new blog with a URL that pays homage to this one. Please find me here:

Free Range. History, Animals, and Networked Learning

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Opening for a Google Glass / Android Developer

Virginia Tech’s Center for Geospatial Information Technology is looking for a Google Glass / Android Developer to support the development of programs for the new platform. This is a great opportunity for someone to join the Google Glass Team at VT and help us develop some exciting new applications for the platform. Additional information about the position is provided below.

CGIT

Who we are?

A group of four Virginia Tech faculty building teaching and research applications for Google Glass.  We’re looking for a couple of rockstar developers.

What’s the position like?

A full stack Android developer to work on two applications: a teaching platform and a mapping research project on Google Glass. Responsible for building  applications for Google Glass. You’ll work with the Android SDK until the Glass Development Kit (GDK) is available.

What are the minimum requirements:   

  • Ability to communicate and collaborate effectively with a smart and diverse team
  • 1+ year(s) of development experience with Android SDK
  • 3+ years of software development experience
  • Experience working with RESTful APIs
  • Experience with live streaming data in an application
  • Experience with Google services
  • Ability to work part time on the Virginia Tech campus
  • Strong understanding of object oriented software principles, design patterns, and agile methodologies
  • Familiarity with automated test frameworks and test-driven development
  • Interested to explore new approaches to mirror world applications using Google Glass.

What would give you bonus points?

  • Experience with video/audio capture and streaming
  • Prior work that involved augmented reality, GIS, or interactive web maps
  • Experience working with 3D in a web browser (html5, x3dom, openGL, three.js, etc.)
  • An ability to analyze UX/UI workflows for quality/efficiency

To apply or learn more, please contact Peter Sforza at the Virginia Tech Center for Geospatial Information Technology — sforza@vt.edu or (540) 231-8935.


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Filed under Android Developer, Google Glass, New Media Seminar, Research Related, Virginia Tech

VT Google Glass Team

In the past month, I was able to invite three colleagues to join me as a Google Glass Explorer. We were able to meet today to begin exploring ways in which we can use Glass to advance our research and teaching. We also plan to develop new Apps for Glass to support these activities.

In the picture below, Peter Sforza is in the middle and Brian Mathews is on the right. Tom Sanchez (not shown) is the fourth member of our Google Glass Team at VT.

IMG_20131011_120843_1782

Click to view slideshow.

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Filed under Google Glass, New Media Seminar, Virginia Tech

Hard Case for Google Glass ($8)

IMG_20130805_115508_755While the protective case that Google provides with Glass is great for recreational use, I have been concerned that the case is not robust enough for traveling nationally/internationally. To solve this problem I started looking for a cheap and functional solution. While some Explorers have found a more substantial soft case – e.g., see the Case Logic GPS & Media 5-7″ In-Car DVD Player Case or (if you love Star Wars) the Millennium Falcon bag – I decided to look for a hard-case solution.

Since my office at Virgina Tech is located 200m from our local art supplier, Mish Mish, I took a break one morning to see what they could offer. I found what I believe is the perfect solution for me, a 10 inch Art & Craft case made by Art Alternatives. The case retails at $7.99 and the Glass case fits perfectly inside (see the pictures below). The nice thing about the case is that it has room to hold my smartphone and the various chargers I travel with. The case gives me some piece of mind that when I try to squeeze my backpack into an overhead compartment on a plane or train, the Glass device will be protected.

Click to view slideshow.

I decided to jazz up the case a little by adding a sticker that came with a Samsung Chromebook I just purchased.

IMG_20130805_115543_693


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Filed under Goggle Glass, Google Glass, Hard case, New Media Seminar

Hangout with Mozambique Team

This afternoon I was able to connect with my research team working in Nampula, Mozambique via a Google hangout. I used my Glass device that was tethered to a smartphone. The picture below (taken via Glass) captures the moment I connected with my colleagues. What is exciting about this platform is that I can now connect with my research team from any location in the US, which I wasn’t able to do previously.

Hangout with Moz Team


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I’ve got to write this guy a letter

Gardner, this one is for you.

This post is centered around a few scenes from my favorite episode of the West Wing.

[Opening scene. The President of the United States and his Press Secretary having a conversation]

President: Galileo five!

Press Secretary: Yes, sir.

President: Just the name...

Press Secretary: Galileo five!

President: You can feel the adventure.

Press Secretary: Yes, indeed.

President: NASA's great at naming things.

Press Secretary: They are.

President: Mercury, Apollo, Atlantis, the Sea of Tranquility, the Ocean of Storms...

Press Secretary: Good names!

President: First time I heard 'Galileo V,' the way the imagination immediately... Say the name.

Press Secretary: I said the name.

President: Say it again. Your imagination, like a child, will explode with unrestrained possibilities for adventure.

Press Secretary: [with gusto] Galileo V!

Professional vs. Personal
"A good idea will keep you awake during the morning, but a great idea will keep you awake during the night."

Until the last year or so I've never had much of a problem keeping my work life and my personal life separate. Sure, I was friends with people from work, and as a graduate student much of my personal life has been on hold waiting for the day I finish my degree and "life can start." I've enjoyed my job researching jet engines and made a lot of professional contacts along the way. Every once in a while I've had the chance to work on an idea that was extra exciting for me (a big challenge, something new and creative, etc..) but for the most part its been a job that I work, enjoy, and look forward to leaving behind to go home for the night or weekend.

Then I started teaching.

Something snapped. Seeing someone who truly wanted to learn and being able to help them along is something I'd never really trained for (or wanted to do). But the feeling I get when they're struggling and finally "get it?" The magic of watching someone conceive an entirely new idea? Experiencing raw creativity and curiosity? The opportunity to show someone what they are really capable of? There is no greater high in the world! My "imagination, like a child, [explodes] with unrestrained possibilities for adventure!"

Maybe I've found what Sir Ken calls "My Element."
"... the Element - the place where the things you love to do and the things that you are good at come together. [People who have found their Element] are special [because] they have found what they love to do and they are actually doing it."
-Ken Robinson
"The Element" (emphasis added)

I lose sleep over teaching. Not because I'm stressed about it, but because it drives so deep that I can't put it down. I can't wait to explore a new idea or a better way to inspire/encourage learners.

I quickly found that I'm not the only one.

And what a great community of "In-Element Educators" I've had the privilege to be a part of! They are questioning how we do things in education, challenging the short comings of our methods, and striving to improve, inspire, ignite. My discussions with them are the high-points of my "work" day. And when you make professional contact with someone who speaks into your deep passions, it can't help but get personal. We're not just talking about my 9-5 job anymore. And it can be risky. Many are strongly opposed to change and like "business as usual". At one point early on, so was I.

Ok. Back to the West Wing. A little plot synopsis (spoiler alert)

So the President is excited about a new Mars lander called Galileo V that is supposed to land on the Red Planet today. He's scheduled a special live "classroom" event in which he will be speaking with a NASA panel to K12 students, answering their questions sent in by email (which, in the time the episode aired, was an amazing concept. Children being able send a message instantly to the President, and have him respond instantly on TV!). One problem: during the landing process NASA loses communication with Galileo V and it looks like the highly disappointed President will have to cancel the event to avoid media embarrassment. 

At the same time, the President must attend a concert performed by the Reykjavik Orchestra for some political reasons, and he's dreading it.

Aid: After intermission, they'll be performing the world premier of a piece...

President: Played on teapots and gefilte fish.

Aid: ... by a new Icelandic composer. They told me he got so nervous when he heard you were coming that he was rewriting the piece until 6 o'clock.

President: If he wants more time, I'd be happy to take a rain check.

Aid: I thought you liked classical music.

President: This is not classical music. It's not classical music if the guy finished writing it this afternoon.

[Later, after the concert. The Press Secretary approaches the President]

President: Did you hear the end of the concert?

Press Secretary: I didn't hear much of the concert at all. How was it?

President: Well, first of all, let's not kid ourselves. The Reykjavik Symphony can play. These guys have some serious game. In this particular case, their talents were tragically misapplied to an atonal nightmare of pretention, but after the intermission... [looks up at the night sky]

Press Secretary: After intermission?

President: They played a piece by a new composer. First, I wasn't hearing it. I had 19 different things on my mind, but then I did, and, it was magnificent. It was genius. He built these themes, and at the beginning, it was just an intellectual exercise, which is fun enough, I guess, but then in the fourth movement, he just let it go. I really didn't think I could be surprised by music anymore. I thought about all the times this guy must've heard that his music was no good... I've got to write this guy a letter.

Resistance.

Look at the progression of the President's thinking. First, because he is busy with his own concerns and has his own idea of what is best, he mocks the new composer's music. Next, whether he wants to or not, he attends the concert. He's distracted and doesn't really listen, but the skill of the players captures his attention. He comes to appreciate the "intellectual exercise" presented by the composer. Then he marvels at the final execution of the idea, inspired by a new idea in an area that he thought was out of fresh ideas. He stops to consider the adversity the composer must have faced, the discouragement from his critics.

Change is hard. Change threatens those who are established and comfortable. More often than not in education, I see changes happening from the bottom up. Lone teachers trying something new that works. Taking it to their superiors and making a case. Sometimes it sticks, other times they're told that "their music is no good." The result: changes happen far too slowly for any current students to benefit. 

Unfortunately, our system cannot be improved through incremental changes. What we need is a radical rethinking. A peaceful revolution. An educational renaissance.

Universities are funny places.

They're constantly evolving. Few places in the world have such a huge turnaround rate. To borrow some words of wisdom from my advisor: 
"The job of the university is to get rid of its best talent."
We try to recruit promising talent (in the form of incoming freshmen). Then we try to develop that talent over 4-ish years through classes, research experience, clubs, and senior capstone projects. Finally, when they've started to gain some serious muscle and honed their talents, we send them off to take on the world. Until recently I thought that this idea applied only to students, that institutions like tenure insulated the faculty from so much motion. Not quite true. The university is a crucible. As we are refined our positions shift, sometimes internally, sometimes we move on. As our "best talent" moves on, it makes way for rising stars to take their shot. And I think that's how it should be. We are all in this place to grow and pursue the best version of ourselves. Students. Faculty. Staff. Administration. The growth process requires motion.

The time is now!

We have a limited amount of time with the people we come in contact with here. Lectures are 50 minutes, office hours are finite, semesters end, and we probably won't see most of our students ever again. We may only get this one moment to make a difference. This instant is precious, cherish it, maximize it. We cannot afford to take it slow, make small changes, incrementally improve at a rate that maybe our grandchildren will benefit. We can't afford to resolve to be better tomorrow. That wastes today. Be better right now, it could be one of a very few moments in time that you get to spend with that student. Let us take our (fun) intellectual exercises and really let them go, so that we may marvel at the execution of a game-changing idea. Let's surprise ourselves. A friend of mine recently said:

"If you can measure the size of your impact, you haven't made much of a difference."

The closing scene:

Press Secretary: Mr. President, about that televised classroom tomorrow...

President: I'm gonna wait up for a while. See if we hear anything. It's out there somewhere... it's so close.

Press Secretary: I think you should do the classroom either way.

President: Yeah?

Press Secretary: We have, at our disposal, a captive audience of schoolchildren. Some of them don't go to the blackboard and raise their hand 'cause they think they're gonna be wrong. I think you should say to these kids, "you think you get it wrong sometimes? You should come down here and see how the big boys do it." I think you should tell them you haven't given up hope, and that it may turn up, but in the meantime, you want NASA to put its best people in the room, and you want them to start building Galileo VI. Some of them will laugh, and most of them won't care, but for some, they might honestly see that it's about going to the blackboard and raising your hand. And that's the broader theme.

My friend, I'll miss you. Raise your hand. Your music is surprising and beautiful. Meanwhile, here, we will put our best people in the room and start working on Galileo VI.

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I’ve got to write this guy a letter

Gardner, this one is for you.

This post is centered around a few scenes from my favorite episode of the West Wing.

[Opening scene. The President of the United States and his Press Secretary having a conversation]

President: Galileo five!

Press Secretary: Yes, sir.

President: Just the name...

Press Secretary: Galileo five!

President: You can feel the adventure.

Press Secretary: Yes, indeed.

President: NASA's great at naming things.

Press Secretary: They are.

President: Mercury, Apollo, Atlantis, the Sea of Tranquility, the Ocean of Storms...

Press Secretary: Good names!

President: First time I heard 'Galileo V,' the way the imagination immediately... Say the name.

Press Secretary: I said the name.

President: Say it again. Your imagination, like a child, will explode with unrestrained possibilities for adventure.

Press Secretary: [with gusto] Galileo V!

Professional vs. Personal
"A good idea will keep you awake during the morning, but a great idea will keep you awake during the night."

Until the last year or so I've never had much of a problem keeping my work life and my personal life separate. Sure, I was friends with people from work, and as a graduate student much of my personal life has been on hold waiting for the day I finish my degree and "life can start." I've enjoyed my job researching jet engines and made a lot of professional contacts along the way. Every once in a while I've had the chance to work on an idea that was extra exciting for me (a big challenge, something new and creative, etc..) but for the most part its been a job that I work, enjoy, and look forward to leaving behind to go home for the night or weekend.

Then I started teaching.

Something snapped. Seeing someone who truly wanted to learn and being able to help them along is something I'd never really trained for (or wanted to do). But the feeling I get when they're struggling and finally "get it?" The magic of watching someone conceive an entirely new idea? Experiencing raw creativity and curiosity? The opportunity to show someone what they are really capable of? There is no greater high in the world! My "imagination, like a child, [explodes] with unrestrained possibilities for adventure!"

Maybe I've found what Sir Ken calls "My Element."
"... the Element - the place where the things you love to do and the things that you are good at come together. [People who have found their Element] are special [because] they have found what they love to do and they are actually doing it."
-Ken Robinson
"The Element" (emphasis added)

I lose sleep over teaching. Not because I'm stressed about it, but because it drives so deep that I can't put it down. I can't wait to explore a new idea or a better way to inspire/encourage learners.

I quickly found that I'm not the only one.

And what a great community of "In-Element Educators" I've had the privilege to be a part of! They are questioning how we do things in education, challenging the short comings of our methods, and striving to improve, inspire, ignite. My discussions with them are the high-points of my "work" day. And when you make professional contact with someone who speaks into your deep passions, it can't help but get personal. We're not just talking about my 9-5 job anymore. And it can be risky. Many are strongly opposed to change and like "business as usual". At one point early on, so was I.

Ok. Back to the West Wing. A little plot synopsis (spoiler alert)

So the President is excited about a new Mars lander called Galileo V that is supposed to land on the Red Planet today. He's scheduled a special live "classroom" event in which he will be speaking with a NASA panel to K12 students, answering their questions sent in by email (which, in the time the episode aired, was an amazing concept. Children being able send a message instantly to the President, and have him respond instantly on TV!). One problem: during the landing process NASA loses communication with Galileo V and it looks like the highly disappointed President will have to cancel the event to avoid media embarrassment. 

At the same time, the President must attend a concert performed by the Reykjavik Orchestra for some political reasons, and he's dreading it.

Aid: After intermission, they'll be performing the world premier of a piece...

President: Played on teapots and gefilte fish.

Aid: ... by a new Icelandic composer. They told me he got so nervous when he heard you were coming that he was rewriting the piece until 6 o'clock.

President: If he wants more time, I'd be happy to take a rain check.

Aid: I thought you liked classical music.

President: This is not classical music. It's not classical music if the guy finished writing it this afternoon.

[Later, after the concert. The Press Secretary approaches the President]

President: Did you hear the end of the concert?

Press Secretary: I didn't hear much of the concert at all. How was it?

President: Well, first of all, let's not kid ourselves. The Reykjavik Symphony can play. These guys have some serious game. In this particular case, their talents were tragically misapplied to an atonal nightmare of pretention, but after the intermission... [looks up at the night sky]

Press Secretary: After intermission?

President: They played a piece by a new composer. First, I wasn't hearing it. I had 19 different things on my mind, but then I did, and, it was magnificent. It was genius. He built these themes, and at the beginning, it was just an intellectual exercise, which is fun enough, I guess, but then in the fourth movement, he just let it go. I really didn't think I could be surprised by music anymore. I thought about all the times this guy must've heard that his music was no good... I've got to write this guy a letter.

Resistance.

Look at the progression of the President's thinking. First, because he is busy with his own concerns and has his own idea of what is best, he mocks the new composer's music. Next, whether he wants to or not, he attends the concert. He's distracted and doesn't really listen, but the skill of the players captures his attention. He comes to appreciate the "intellectual exercise" presented by the composer. Then he marvels at the final execution of the idea, inspired by a new idea in an area that he thought was out of fresh ideas. He stops to consider the adversity the composer must have faced, the discouragement from his critics.

Change is hard. Change threatens those who are established and comfortable. More often than not in education, I see changes happening from the bottom up. Lone teachers trying something new that works. Taking it to their superiors and making a case. Sometimes it sticks, other times they're told that "their music is no good." The result: changes happen far too slowly for any current students to benefit. 

Unfortunately, our system cannot be improved through incremental changes. What we need is a radical rethinking. A peaceful revolution. An educational renaissance.

Universities are funny places.

They're constantly evolving. Few places in the world have such a huge turnaround rate. To borrow some words of wisdom from my advisor: 
"The job of the university is to get rid of its best talent."
We try to recruit promising talent (in the form of incoming freshmen). Then we try to develop that talent over 4-ish years through classes, research experience, clubs, and senior capstone projects. Finally, when they've started to gain some serious muscle and honed their talents, we send them off to take on the world. Until recently I thought that this idea applied only to students, that institutions like tenure insulated the faculty from so much motion. Not quite true. The university is a crucible. As we are refined our positions shift, sometimes internally, sometimes we move on. As our "best talent" moves on, it makes way for rising stars to take their shot. And I think that's how it should be. We are all in this place to grow and pursue the best version of ourselves. Students. Faculty. Staff. Administration. The growth process requires motion.

The time is now!

We have a limited amount of time with the people we come in contact with here. Lectures are 50 minutes, office hours are finite, semesters end, and we probably won't see most of our students ever again. We may only get this one moment to make a difference. This instant is precious, cherish it, maximize it. We cannot afford to take it slow, make small changes, incrementally improve at a rate that maybe our grandchildren will benefit. We can't afford to resolve to be better tomorrow. That wastes today. Be better right now, it could be one of a very few moments in time that you get to spend with that student. Let us take our (fun) intellectual exercises and really let them go, so that we may marvel at the execution of a game-changing idea. Let's surprise ourselves. A friend of mine recently said:

"If you can measure the size of your impact, you haven't made much of a difference."

The closing scene:

Press Secretary: Mr. President, about that televised classroom tomorrow...

President: I'm gonna wait up for a while. See if we hear anything. It's out there somewhere... it's so close.

Press Secretary: I think you should do the classroom either way.

President: Yeah?

Press Secretary: We have, at our disposal, a captive audience of schoolchildren. Some of them don't go to the blackboard and raise their hand 'cause they think they're gonna be wrong. I think you should say to these kids, "you think you get it wrong sometimes? You should come down here and see how the big boys do it." I think you should tell them you haven't given up hope, and that it may turn up, but in the meantime, you want NASA to put its best people in the room, and you want them to start building Galileo VI. Some of them will laugh, and most of them won't care, but for some, they might honestly see that it's about going to the blackboard and raising your hand. And that's the broader theme.

My friend, I'll miss you. Raise your hand. Your music is surprising and beautiful. Meanwhile, here, we will put our best people in the room and start working on Galileo VI.

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Got Glass

GlassAfter a bus trip, two flights, and a taxi ride I finally arrived at the Google Glass suite in the Chelsea Market complex, New York. Google has renovated the eighth floor of this building to host the one-on-one Glass set-up sessions. The style of the suite is simple, uncluttered, and clean to mirror the Glass interface experience. The main Google office in New York is situated across the street from Chelsea Market.

I arrived at 3:30pm straight from the airport for a 6:00pm appointment. As I waited for my guest to join me, I met a wide range of fellow Glass Explorers as they arrived for, or left from, their Glass appointment. While I cannot say anything from such a small sample size, there was an interesting mix of individuals obtaining Glass – professionals, students, and a couple of family groups all passed through the doors.

I used the time I had to ask the two Google employees manning the front desk multiple questions about how I might set-up and use the Glass device to augment my teaching. I have summarized a few of the key points from our conversation below:

  • Create a Google+ Circle Specifically for the Students in the Seminar: For this to work effectively, every student taking the seminar would also need to create the same circle of people in their Google+ account. Pros – any video, image, or post that is shared with this circle will be visible to everyone in the seminar. Cons – the material posted would not be available to non-circle members who might want to follow the Glass-augmented seminar. We discussed the idea of developing a Google+ community around the seminar, but one challenge with this approach is the potential volume of material that might be posted. Other options discussed were to develop a blog or Facebook page dedicated to the seminar. Both have merits and shortfalls, the main one being that they do not take advantage of the seamless integration of Glass with Google+.
  • Downloading Videos/Images from Glass: While picture/video files automatically upload to your Google+ account, they can also be downloaded to your computer from Google+ or directly from the Glass device via the micro USB cable. Downloading these files to your computer might be useful if you would like to edit a video or image before posting it to a forum. The Glass device has about 12.6 GB of internal storage, which should be enough to store a manageable number of pictures and/or videos.
  • The Battery Life of Glass: Many commentators have written about the poor battery life of Glass. Because of this concern I asked about whether a mobile power source/battery would be worth purchasing. The consistent response I received was that it is best to charge Glass using wall outlets. For extended video recording, the recommendation was to charge the device while recording the video. If you are able to do this, the weight of the micro USB cable may pull the Glass device down to one side, but you will be able to use the device indefinitely. I still think it may be worth purchasing a mobile power source/battery, but will wait to see if this is necessary based on how and where I use the device.
  • Personal Security: I asked several Google employees when and where they use Glass around NYC. The common response was that you should treat Glass as you would any other expensive mobile device – i.e., put it away if you are entering a situation in which it may draw unwanted attention.
DSCN1089

Soji Ojugbele, Google

As soon as my guest arrived, we obtained our Glass passes and were met by Soji Ojugbele, who would spend the next two hours working with me to set-up my Glass device. These appointments normally take up to an hour, but my persistent questions extended our session until the Glass suite closed. This did not faze Soji, who patiently and comprehensively answered every question. Before attending this appointment, I was a little skeptical of the value of traveling across the country to set-up a wireless device. However, the attention to detail, patience, and professionalism of the Glass team (especially Soji) made the effort worthwhile. Upon leaving the Glass suite, I felt confident that I could use the device and that it was fully in sync with my smartphone and Google+ account. As an aside, I highly recommend taking a guest (who owns a smartphone) to your appointment so you can begin to test the various Glass functions such as making a call, sending a text, etc. while setting up the device. This also gives your guest an active role in the session.

I selected the shale (grey) Glass device, but I could have changed my mind if another color caught my attention. Close contenders were the blue or black options.

DSCN1097In my previous post, I was concerned about having to wear contact lenses. When I first put on Glass over my prescription glasses (see adjacent picture), I had trouble viewing all the edges of the welcome screen. Therefore, I decided to wear my contact lenses for the remainder of the session. The viewing experience with contacts was much better. I later tried wearing the Glass device over my prescription glasses (in the apartment where I was staying) and was able to view the edges of the Glass welcome screen. However, the image is not as crisp due to some refraction occurring at the edges of the screen.

While testing one of the Glass functions during my appointment, I met a Google employee who was wearing a Glass device mounted on a specially-designed frame with prescription lenses. This prototype frame is not yet available and I wasn’t able to convince this person to provide me with a pair of these frames. Apparently, when the Glass prescription frames do become available, it will be possible to detach the Glass device from the existing frame and attach it to the prescription frame without too much trouble. This is good news for people like me who struggle with contact lenses and do not want to wear two frames at once. For now, I’ll either have to wear contact lenses that will reduce the overall quality of my vision or look a little strange wearing two frames at once with some compromise in the crispness of the Glass screen.

Click to view slideshow.

After following Soji’s instructions on how to sync the Glass device with my phone, the wireless network, and my Google+ account, I was able to begin using its various functions. The device is impressive. The user interface is simple and intuitive and the device does not feel too heavy or uncomfortable to wear. It takes a little while to get used to looking at the Glass screen and how to navigate the operating system by swiping your figure along the side of the frame, but these are skills that I’m sure will become second nature over time. In the video below – my first Glass video – Soji is explaining how I can extend a video being recorded using Glass.


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Heading to NYC for Glass

Appointment


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Anticipating Glass

It has been only a week since I received notification that my Google Glass device was ready to be picked up, but it feels much longer. Over the next several months, I intend to use Glass to transform the way I approach my teaching at Virginia Tech (VT). I also plan to study the process of teaching with Glass in an effort to document what worked and what didn’t. In this post, I thought I’d try to capture my past week and provide some insight into the rapid learning curve I’m climbing.

Purchasing Glass

After being accepted into the Glass Explorer program in March, I realized that I lacked the personal funds to indulge in such a device ($1,500 + tax) and began searching for research funds. I was fortunate to receive encouragement from the VT Center for Innovation in Learning (CIL) to develop a proposal that captured my desire to augment or perhaps fundamentally transform – I think the difference is a matter of perspective – the way I teach. My proposal was accepted by CIL and I was awarded a research grant to purchase Glass, travel to collect the device, and purchase a smart phone and data plan to which the device will be tethered. With only a two-week window to purchase Glass (after receiving the Google notification), I needed to move quickly. One immediate challenge was how to make the purchase without a research project/fund officially in place. A related logistical problem was the rate at which the available appointments to collect the Glass device in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York were being taken. It was not possible to make an appointment without making a purchase.

Creating a research fund is no quick task – especially at the end of the academic fiscal year. Fortunately, we have a great team of professional staff within the School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) who were able to help me quickly navigate and obtain the necessary approvals to start spending funds while the research account is established over the next couple of weeks.

The purchase of my flight to New York presented another hurdle. Faculty at VT are required to obtain approval before making any travel arrangements, which meant another form that needed to be completed and processed.

I mention the above to provide some insight into what was an intense couple of days that consisted of numerous emails and phone calls. These activities were also complicated by the need to set up a smart phone in time for my appointment on Friday, June 28.

Obtaining the Smart Phone

What I first considered to be a simple task turned out to be quite complex from an administrative and technological perspective. To obtain a cell phone at VT, an Interdepartmental Communication Request (ICR) needs to be made by an authorized individual. Since the location of my research budget was somewhat in flux at this time, this task led to an extensive series of communications that were complicated by my ongoing research (informed by several Google+ communities related to Glass) into what smart phone and data plan I should obtain. In the end, I settled on a Droid Razr Maxx HD smart phone with a calling plan + unlimited data from Verizon. One reason for selecting a Droid smart phone was its compatibility with Google software and the “MyGlass” App that enables Glass Explorers to fully utilize the functionality of the device.

MyGlass

Connecting with Google+ Communities

As mentioned above, there are numerous communities on Google+ that are dedicated to the Glass device. So far these forums have contained information that has answered all of my Glass-related questions. I have also found numerous individuals who have similar ambitions to use Glass in an educational setting (most of whom are members of the “Google Glass in Education” community) and I’m now following their activities.

Obtaining IRB Approval

Another task accomplished this past week was to obtain approval from VT’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) to begin the research project using Glass. While I could have waited to obtain this approval until after I collected the device, I wanted to be able to begin my research project as soon as I receive my Glass. In fact, I’m hoping to record a conversation with the Google employee I meet with to ask him/her a few questions related to which technology platform I should use to support my seminar this fall. To obtain IRB approval I completed a 14-page research protocol that outlines in detail how I plan to use the Glass device and whether this poses any risk to those involved with the project. Given the emergent nature of this research, this was a challenging document to prepare and I suspect I will need to revise my research protocol as I begin to understand how the technology can really be used in practice.

Obtaining Contact Lenses

Since the current version of Glass does not support prescription lenses, and I wear glasses, I decided to see if I could wear contact lenses. I have been wearing a pair of contacts for the past few days and so far I’ve noticed a decline in my vision due to astigmatism in both eyes. Thus, I’m not sure if I will be able to make this transition (which is not covered by my research funds) and may have to wear Glass on top of my prescription glasses. I will provide an update on this situation next week.

Looking Ahead

With most of the tasks related to establishing this project either completed or in process, my attention can now focus on the research itself. I have refrained from explaining my proposed research project in this post since I plan to let the research speak for itself when it begins. I hope this teaser brings you back to my website over the coming months to learn more about what we hope to do at VT with Google Glass.


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Filed under General Interest, Google Glass, New Media Seminar