Google Glass: A Review

Google Glass Review

So I have now had 2 months to play around with Google Glass, which I believe is enough time to write a good review. Before I write this review I want to make a few things clear 1) Google Glass is still in it’s alpha phase, meaning a lot could change between now and its actual release. 2) The device is only as good as its apps, just like a phone, so at this point in time there are limited apps as the device is not released to the public yet. So keep that in mind while you read this review.

 

1. Price – We do not know what the price will be when its released. In its current form its $1500 but this is no where near what it will be when its actually released.
2. Comfort – It feels like I am wearing any other kind of glasses/sunglasses. So if you can wear them then this will feel no different.

3. Clarity of image – I think it’s very good. You can move it around a bit (it swivels) so that you can get it into your view. If you need glasses (near/farsighted) you can order glass with your prescription so that it works for you. So they have thought of that issue.

 

4. Sound – Yes, there is sound. You can take and receive calls as well as video conference. The sound is great when you wear the earpiece but when you do not its impossible to hear. Its like a bad version of speaker phone without the earpiece so the earpiece is a must if you are taking calls.

 

5. Setting up the device – In order to set up the device you must connect it to either wifi or to your phone’s bluetooth (which uses phone data). I connected mine to my house wifi and Android Moto X phone. It was simple. I have unlimited phone data so I was not worried about my data use. This could be an issue for those that have to pay for data. I did not test this on apple devices.

 

6. Installing software – Once you set up the device you install an app on your phone that allows you to download apps. The apps are limited at this point. There are around 20 that do various things to show you the functionality of the device. These apps are very easy to install. Now there are many other apps you can download and install around the web and on the google play store but these require you to do a hard install which means you need to download the Android SDK, go into Unix, and install the apps from your computer to the device. This is not something a beginner could do and it could lead to a broken device (although there is a built in reset but I would not rely on it). It’s really for the person who understands how to edit and modify android or has rooted a phone/tablet in the past. I did it and once set up it was easy but it was not fun.

 

7. GPS – The gps is awesome and not so great. For driving I thought is was really cool. Its just like my gps on my phone for the most part except it was in my line of site so my eyes were never off the road. I loved it for driving. I tried it for jogging and biking but did not have much success. I blame the app I was using though. The app just would not work right for this so I believe once there is a good app it will work well. First the app required me to sign up for all kinds of stuff and an account (10 minute process) and then was not user friendly and just didn’t work. This is the only app available at this time so there just not options yet (but they will come in time).

 

8.  Camera – This is awesome. The camera for photos and video worked really well. You can take pics or video whenever you want and upload them directly to your phone or cloud service (google drive). I really liked the camera on the device.

9. Usability – There is a small learning curve to the device.  While I found some people were able to pick it up and use some of the basic features, some people did get frustrated. Its not hard to use its just that I would encourage someone to take an hour (or a day) to get used to the device before feeling comfortable with it.

 

10. Augmented reality – Well that is really the point of the device and on that front it works nicely. For instance there are apps that when you look at a movie poster can show you the trailer. Or show you were stores are and such. Facial recognition also seems to be something that is coming and this could be very beneficial (and scary) but I was not able to experience that feature yet.

 

Uses:

 

Education – Overall I do not think this is something that K-12 schools are going to run out and buy. I really think its geared more towards older students/workers. That is not to say it will not happen but I just don’t see it for a while. On the college front, I could definitely see students using it to record lectures, which would be awesome. You could even snap a shot of the chalkboard and such (your phone does this too). This could also be useful for virtual fieldtrips where a teacher was viewing something and talking about it and students could watch/listen.

 

Corporate – I think this device would be awesome in corporate culture assuming the facial recognition software works well. Imagine being in a conference room and knowing everyone’s name, what their position is, etc. This could be very useful. It could also work that way at conferences. Since you can video conference you could use it for that as well.

 

Government – Obviously the same as corporate but the big one is military. Soldiers will be able to use this without having to take their eyes off of the battlefield. Now I understand that there are devices that do this somewhat but Google Glass is a step above that so there is much potential with this.

 

Overall – This device really is just your cell phone on your head. So if you have no problem using your phone for everything, then you probably do not need this. If you are a person that likes to multitask and wants to take a picture on your bike ride without needing to take out your phone, then you will absolutely love this device. Its really just designed to keep your phone in your pocket and save you time, which it could do in the right situation. Now, one final issue, and this is what will keep me from ever using a device like this, and that is radiation. Whenever you put your cell phone on your head (or Bluetooth device) you are essentially microwaving your head a very tiny bit. It’s the same frequency as a microwave oven, which is why your head feels hot after using your phone for a while. The research on the health effects of this appear mixed but lean towards it being safe. Personally I am more cautious and choose not to put devices like this near my head for long periods of time (ie using speaker phone). So Google Glass is probably not something you will see me wearing for the duration.

 

Evaluation for an instructor led course (the materials)

Evaluation for an instructor led course (the materials)

The following is a guide for evaluating materials for an instructor led course. This is not a guide for evaluating a person teaching the course.

Criteria Description Scale
N/A Comments
Content
Working memory/Cognitive load

 

Learners can hold 5-7 concepts in their working memory at one time. Does this content ask learners to work with more at one time (per screen/topic)? Thus screens should have limited text/bullet points.

 

Multimedia principles

 

Images and text (or narration) that explain for one another are better for learning and communication then just one by itself. Thus PPT or lecture should follow this model.

 

No extra details – only what is required Extra images, text, or colors distracts
Highlight important information

 

Use of cues or color coding for important concepts
No busy screens/backgrounds/fonts

 

These distract learners
Objectives are clear What is the point?
Content is inline with objectives Does the site do what it says?
Assessment is inline with content Is there an assessment and does it asses each objective?
Flow Introduction, content, ending
Learning strategies Are learning strategies apparent and appropriate?
Motivation Are motivation (ARCS) applied?
Learners apply/problem solve (ie case studies) Are the learners actually learning more than factual information?
Sources To back up claims
Assessment
Is there an assessment?
Assessment measures high level knowledge Does the assessment measure more than factual information?
Is there a satisfaction survey?
Style
Colors/fonts/layout

 

These should be standard throughout
Colors Should NOT be more than 2-4 colors on screen
fonts Are fonts legible
layout

 

Grid and organized
Simple and natural dialogue

 

Speak the users’ language – informal is better than formal for learning

 

Rule of thirds

 

Does the screen utilize them?
Technical
Audio Sound/voices volume, background noise, easy to understand
File formats Are they compatible with all hardware
Video Does it play well/take a while to load?
Develop for the output technology

 

Resolution – is the resolution look correct or pixelated?, colors look right on screen, golden ratio/rectangle (organization and layout look correct)
Instructor Guide
Time How long does it take to complete each section?
Narration Does it tell the instructor what to say?
Notes Are there notes for the instructor?
Materials Are all materials provided for the instructor?
Facilitating/teaching Does the instructor guide contain enough information that one could pick it up and teach the course (assuming they have all the materials, know the content, know how to teach)?
Student Guide
Schedule Do students know the schedule of the course and topics?
Objectives Do students have the objectives?
Content Do students have a copy of the PPT/Materials to take notes and follow along?
Materials Are student materials included in this guide?
Job aid Is there a job aid for students to take with them to help them transfer knowledge from course to job?

 

Usability Evaluation for websites and computer based instruction

Usability Evaluation for websites and computer based instruction

The following is a guide for evaluating computer based instruction and websites. It can also be used for mobile and tablet based software. This will vary based on audience and objectives. Some criteria may or may not apply to all devices or instructional media types. This is a general evaluation and should be modified for every single project. Keep in mind I developed this with training/learning in mind.

Criteria Description Scale
N/A Comments
Content
Working memory/Cognitive load Learners can hold 5-7 concepts in their working memory at one time. Does this content ask learners to work with more at one time (per screen/topic)? Thus screens should have limited text/bullet points.
Multimedia principles Images and text (or narration) that explain for one another are better for learning and communication then just one by itself
No extra details – only what is required Extra images, text, or colors distracts
Highlight important information Use of cues or color coding for important concepts
Objectives are clear What is the point?
Content is inline with objectives Does the site do what it says?
Assessment is inline with content Is there an assessment and does it asses each objective?
Flow Introduction, content, ending
Learning strategies Are learning strategies apparent and appropriate?
Learners apply/problem solve Are the learners actually learning more than factual information?
Sources To back up claims
Assessment
Is there an assessment?
Assessment measures high level knowledge Does the assessment measure more than factual information?
Is there a satisfaction survey?
Style
Fitt’s law Buttons should be big and close enough to prevent error
Colors/fonts/layout These should be standard throughout
No busy screens/backgrounds/fonts These distract learners
Colors Should NOT be more than 2-4 colors on screen
fonts Are fonts legible
layout Grid and organized
Simple and natural dialogue Speak the users’ language – informal is better than formal for learning
User friendly layout Are there directions on using the tutorial?
Rule of thirds Does the screen utilize them?
Functionality
Provide feedback Feedback for navigation
Provide clearly marked exits Get to home screen/Exit program
Provide shortcuts Breadcrumbs
Reversal of actions Can you go back?
Errors Deal with errors in positive and helpful manner
Provide help and documentation Help button/documentation
Navigation Menu, next, back, help buttons – easy to find
Technical
Load time Does it load in a few seconds?
Develop for the output technology Resolution – is the resolution look correct or pixelated?, colors look right on screen, golden ratio/rectangle (organization and layout look correct)
Video Does it play well/take a while to load?
Audio Sound/voices volume, background noise, easy to understand
File formats Are they compatible with all hardware
508 Compliance Does it meet 508? i.e. alt tags
SCORM Compliance For an LMS

 

Should you go to college?

Should you go to college?

This is an interesting question in a time where student debts are becoming outrageous and grads are struggling to find jobs. I am going to explain my thoughts on this question.

First – who shouldn’t go to college?

College is not for everyone. If you have other plans and already know what you want to do (and it doesn’t require a college degree) then maybe you do not need to go. No one forces anyone to go to college. It’s a choice. If that seems like the only choice given to students – blame their mentors, parents, themselves, etc. because it is a choice. Maybe you won’t need that degree to start up a business. However, keep in mind that even Donald Trump sent his kids to college and then on to an MBA before letting them help him run his business empire. Are you going into the military? Well you may not need college right away. Then there are other reasons too: Are you immature? Don’t know what you want to do? Are not motivated? Are better with a trade/skill then books? Then maybe you should reconsider and figure out what you should be doing before going into college – or even consider trade school or community college first. Also, sometimes taking a few years off from school after high school and working or something (such as volunteering) can help you decide if college is right for you and give you time to mature. And these are just some of the reasons students should not go. Please though, do not avoid college because ‘bill gates’ or marc zukerburg’ didn’t go. Remember both of them went to Harvard and then dropped out. They were not normal people. They each got nearly perfect on their SATs, had started companies while in high school, and eventually dropped out of Harvard when they got what they needed at Harvard (and without Harvard neither Microsoft or Facebook might be here today). Bill Gates was so smart he was exempt from Math in high school so he could program computers. So more than likely you should not be using them as examples.

Is college worth it?

The simple answer is Yes. The more complicated answer is that it depends because its no guarantee to success and please note that it never has been that or claimed to be that. The numbers definitely say it is. In fact, any way you look at the numbers it is definitely worth going to college. College is an investment in yourself. Are you worth investing in? That is up to you. I went to college for 12 years and it was definitely worth it. I learned how to think, critique, evaluate, problem solve, and how to work. I feel that I mostly made good decisions with my courses, schools, and majors. If you pick a major that you are not interested in and then do not use the degree then maybe it would not be worth it. I often hear people say there are worthless majors in college but I usually can disagree with their points because most majors are there because some job demanded them. Just because you are not familiar with a subject and the jobs it leads to does not make it wrong. Take art history for example (a major usually brought up in this type of discussion) when you do a simple google search you find that these majors are highly desired in museums, auctions, and so on – thus its actually a very needed and valuable major. Its when someone goes into art history and then decides that they want to do something else that the major could be seen as ‘not valuable’ to that person while in fact the degree is very highly valuable when used. Now for some numbers – a report just released by the Labor Department statistics by the Economic Policy Institute in Washington said that college graduates make on average – 98% more per hour than those without degrees. 98%! In fact, any way you look at the numbers college grads are significantly better off. Unemployment of college grads is less than half that of the overall population. The lifetime salaries are also significantly higher and that gap keeps growing. That doesn’t mean that someone without college will not make a lot of money, it just means on average, people do not.

Some numbers:

How much someone earns over their lifetime:

Median annual earnings of full-time year-round wage and salary workers ages 25–34, by educational attainment: 1995–2012 from http://nces.ed.gov/

earning by age:

Is college too expensive?

Yes and no. Most students leave college owing about 25k, which in my opinion is not bad considering that is how much an average car costs (something most people pay off in 5 years). In fact you can check out the average student debt here:

http://projectonstudentdebt.org/state_by_state-data.php

You can get a very good college education for 25-50k at a community or public university. “According to the College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2013–2014 school year was $30,094 at private colleges, $8,893 for state residents at public colleges, and $22,203 for out-of-state residents attending public universities.” (collegedata.com). Thus 8-9k per year for a public university = 32k total. If you were to work and go to one of these schools you would probably graduate with zero debt – I did and I went to college for 12 years. In fact, I had a savings. Now of course if you go to a college that costs 250k for a bachelors degree and go into a profession that makes 50k a year you are going to have trouble paying that off. This is no different than buying a house or car you cannot afford. If you cannot afford it, don’t do it. So do not blame the college for costing so much, blame the student for choosing a college they could not afford. Just remember, college prices are similar to car prices – there are cars that cost 10k-20k new and cars that are 250k new. You cant say cars are expensive and only be referring to that 250k car while ignoring all of the 10k ones. Additionally, while there may be a quality difference in cars there is much less of a quality difference in colleges. In fact, many colleges have very similar quality (to an extent) – whether public, private, or ivy league. What differs? Well the connections you make while attending but overall education will not be too much different (it will be different I just want to stress its not as significant as the car example I used). Its really about what you put into it. Professors are guides, guiding students. They cannot force you to do well or be successful. One last thing to point out here – if you are concerned that public universities are increasing their tuition too much each year, please look at how much funding is being cut from them by the state before jumping to other conclusions (although keep in mind other factors are always at play but the biggest cause for an increase right now is state funding being cut). Remember that while in state students might only pay 5k a semester to go to school, the state is paying the rest of their tuition – it actually costs about the same as a private school when its all said and done (because you pay tuition and the state pays the rest of your tuition). So when the state cuts funding by 10%, there might need to be a 10% increase in tuition to make up for that the money the state was paying for your tuition. While those numbers I just presented are not exact by any means, it is how it works. So take that into consideration when you wonder why tuition is going up. See here for more information on that.

When should you consider college?

1. When you want to learn. College is great for this. Its not the only way but if you are interested in engineering, its very difficult to learn it on your own for a million different reasons (motivation being the biggest). If people could learn everything on their own there would be no such thing as classes – people would just go to the library or internet and figure it out. This does not work though – people are not motivated to do that and cannot know if they have or have not fulfilled competencies that someone in the field they are studying should know.

2. You want to enter a career that requires a college education. So you want to be a doctor, lawyer, teacher, architect, museum curator, etc – well they all require degrees.

Lastly I will leave you with this: My kids will be going to college. Most of my colleagues kids will be going to college. Most doctors, lawyers, politicians, etc. kids will be going to college. There is a reason: Education is valuable and it can really pay off.

Google Classroom

Google has created a new FREE tool called Classroom, which is basically an LMS. Why is this cool? Well its free. You cant really argue with that. Moodle is free too but requires tons of support and knowledge just to install and manage whereas this is all done on Google’s end. Why is this different? Well its not different but does integrate well with other google tools, which is awesome for schools using chromebooks. Seems like a great system to try out at schools with no LMS or looking to switch to a free model. It seems this will work really well with google docs and google drive as well. Very excited to see how this turns out.

The tool can be found here