Tuesday's one-day public sale of Google Glass is drawing lots of media attention, but Pomona College students already have a chance to use the hard-to-get high-tech frames for free for five days, thanks to the library's loan program.
The Claremont Colleges Library was able to purchase Glass by invitation at the end of last year, making it one of 40,000 units publicly available as part of the Google Explorers beta testing program. After holding workshops and demonstrations, the library recently started accepting applications for students, faculty and staff to use the pair and explore the teaching, learning and academic possibilities of Glass. The simply curious are encouraged to try them out, too.
Pomona College senior Wesley Quevedo is fresh off his Google Glass experiment. An environmental analysis major, he used it mainly for Google and Wikipedia searches.
Quevedo found it particularly helpful while reading an article for Professor Pey-Yi Chu's Global Environmental Histories class. While he was reading, he used the wearable optical computer to conduct searches on Stalin, the Soviet Union and other important figures mentioned in the article. He says since history is not his field of expertise, having Google Glass was useful.
"It's definitely there if you need to look up something quick," says Quevedo.
Claremont Colleges Instructional Design and Technology Librarian Dani Brecher sees this cutting-edge program as right in line with the first and most important aim of libraries.
"Historically, libraries have been a place where people could borrow materials—both common and scarce—for their own use. Those materials used to be mainly things like books, but we are following in that tradition by making new technologies available to borrow as well," says Brecher.
The goals are access and discussion. Librarians have brought Google Glass to classes like Introduction to Digital Media Studies, taught by Visiting Assistant Professor Marie Shurkus, where students discussed the issues Glass raises, including the future of technology, information and privacy, says Brecher. In the fall, there will be a Claremont Discourse lecture/panel to further probe these topics.
"There have been a lot of ideas floating around about how Glass and other wearable technologies might change education," says Brecher.
During his five days with Glass, Quevedo also found some drawbacks. There was the matter of limited battery life, and the projector that appears in the top right of your vision when you wear it is distracting at first, Quevedo says.
"Glass is like a pair of contacts or braces, at first it is difficult to get adjusted to, but after wearing them for a while, they become unnoticeable and part of your daily life," says Quevedo.
Glass also turned out to be a conversation piece, he says.
"It's one of those things where when you wear it and people see you with technology they start talking to you.'"