When Google selected Belmont media studies professor Dr. Sybril Bennett as one of its 8,000 Google Glass Explorers in June, the company likely didn’t expect that this single, beta sample of its new wearable computer would jump start the digital creativity of nearly 60 college students. But thanks to Bennett’s desire for her students to embrace and respect innovation, she set aside concerns for the risks (her glasses cost $1,500) and introduced both sections of her “Digital Citizenship & Society” class to the futuristic technology.
“It’s incredible, and it’s a beast,” said student Kristoff Hart. “Having this piece of technology sit right above your eyes is weird, but there are so many ways to use it.”
The students’ hands-on experience with Google Glass allowed them to better understand how the technology works. Students in each class were then split into five groups and asked to create a proposal for a new software application, or app, for the product. In presenting their ideas, each group had to examine the benefits, economics, marketing and potential competitors as well as weigh the pros and cons of their “creation.”
Kat Hollingsworth said, “Dr. Syb always says, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if…?’ And we kind of go from there. She told us to be creative [with this project], and that’s what everyone did. It was cool to see students in our class create something that could be real one day.”
Bennett’s assignment has now culminated in nearly a dozen ideas for new applications for Google Glass. One group offered a presentation on Sleak, an app that allows the user to monitor speed, calories burned, weather conditions, trail routes, goals and more while running. Another app offered real-time language translation while another integrated social media apps in one centralized location.
In addition to representing one-quarter of their grade for the semester, the group projects are also being reviewed by local app and website development company Mercury Intermedia, which may choose one to pursue. The course also recently attracted the attention of NewsChannel5 reporter Vicki Yates, who attended a class presentation and interviewed students involved last week.
Bennett will be the first to admit that, like most technology, Google Glass can also raise numerous concerns, especially regarding privacy. Nevertheless, as her course description details, her goals include educating students to be knowledgeable and conscientious digital citizens, preparing them “to embrace their civic duty to contribute to the virtual world in responsible ways.”
“I’m not promoting Google Glass, but I am experimenting with it,” Bennett shared in a convocation Monday. “I’m not going to let my students graduate into a digital world without digital skills.”