Wearables

Bringing Google Glass into the IT Environment

SUNY Cobleskill has embarked on a rigorous pilot using Google Glass for hands-on, experiential learning. In the second of a series of articles chronicling the experience, the institution's CIO shares the nitty-gritty details of technology integration.

Bringing Google Glass into the IT Environment

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State University of New York Cobleskill is like any other college or university, with a broad IT portfolio of infrastructure, hardware, software and services to update, maintain and make highly available to our end users and customers (students, faculty, researchers and staff). With our Project WAVE-ExSEL pilots bringing new technologies like Google Glass into the mix, we have several operational priorities: making sure the technology is put to good use; ensuring the proper fit within the IT environment; and maintaining the high availability of all IT (existing and new).

Related Reading

For more background on SUNY Cobleskill's Glass pilot, read:

Good Use

The primary goal of our project is to assess the viability of wearable and related IT in an academic lab setting. At our campus, the technology will be piloted in two academic labs: our Paramedic Sim Lab and our Large Animal Hoof/Limb Disease Lab. Both of these labs are very hands-on, and the faculty and students will neither have the time nor the capacity to worry if the technology is working. Our goal is to make the new IT seamless for the faculty and students using it. Faculty and students will experience the wearable tech very much like watching any sporting event on TV. There will be the live feed, where faculty instructors and students can see procedures done in real time. There will be the instant replay, where faculty can call a time out and have a recently performed task replayed or re-streamed to local tablet devices or monitors. And there will be the highlight reel, where faculty can review student video clips for grading and assessment purposes or piece together content for future students to view prior to their actual lab work.

In anticipation of faculty needs, another "good use" we will be experimenting with is setting up video editing services. This not anything new; it is common for instructional designers at colleges and universities to perform this service. However, the ease at which Google Glass can create video clips and streams will result in a large volume of video that will need editing to meet the replay and highlight film requests of the faculty — who in all likelihood will not have the time to perform any large-volume video edits. We will make the video editing service available not only to local campus faculty but also to our future campus partners who will face the same challenge. At our campus, we have both Communications and Graphic Arts Technology programs and will be giving those enrolled students the opportunity to show off their skills. It will be fun and exciting to set up and use remote/collaboration tools and see what creative talents our students possess.

Time and assessment-capacity permitting, we also plan to incorporate other value-add uses of the technology being piloted. For instance, one very useful value-add already identified is using Evernote for Google Glass. Evernote can put important information right in the user's field of view, giving faculty and students hands-free access to class notes, procedure steps, reference medical information, comparative photos and videos, etc. This looks to be very beneficial for enhanced teaching and learning, as well as a precursor to what future students will use in their post-academic real world: being able to recall/share patient information, interact with remote medical/animal experts and more.

Proper Fit and High Availability

In working with any new technology vendor, homogeneity is often a helpful rule of thumb for ensuring technology works and is available. Our campus is a Microsoft Office 365 customer for e-mail, communication and collaboration tools for all students, faculty and staff — which may introduce challenges in using Google-based equipment. So for the pilot, in order to have the best user experience with the Google Glass devices, we've created a Google Apps for Education (GAE) subdomain with Google Drive and Google+ functionality enabled. Just to be sure, we will be setting up appropriate GAE administrative, faculty and academic lab accounts for all of the Google technology (Google Glass, Nexus tablets, Chromebox and Chromecast) used in the pilot.

Also, Google technology tends to work best in open access environments. We have security measures in our wireless and network infrastructure that prevent purely open access use, so we'll be implementing very local lab wireless access points (WAPs) within the pilot academic labs so that the Google Glass devices can connect for video capture and re-streaming purposes. We can limit access to the local lab WAPs, giving permission only to the specific hardware used within the labs by their MAC address and/or the administrative/lab-only user accounts set up on the devices. These accounts will be used to log in to our campus GAE subdomain and share/sync recorded videos and photos. The accounts are also active on our campus Microsoft Active Directory.

Google Glass works with a paired device. For our academic lab pilots, the paired devices will be Nexus tablets or iPads (more on iPad use below). It is important to note that Google Glass stores all recorded video on the glass device itself, not the paired device. The two ways to remove the videos are to plug the device into a computer and access them as external storage, or to use Google+ to share the videos directly from the Glass, either as recordings or as live streams via Google Drive. As the direct option is much more user friendly, we have set up Google+ accounts for each of the academic lab domain accounts. We have tested video sharing and these pages will be "private" access by domain accounts only. This will ensure FERPA compliance as well as give the students an understanding of HIPAA compliance and the need to protect patient medical information and records. So doing instant replay and highlight films looks to be very straightforward.

However, live streaming will be a little more challenging. Google Chromecast allows for live streaming from Google Glass through a paired device and on to any other device/monitor that Chromecast is plugged into. However, in our testing, we have experienced overheating issues with some Google Glass units. As a result, we will limit the live streaming to no more than 5- to 10-minute intervals for now. And we will get faculty input as to how this will work best in the pilot lab environments.

Coming Up

The next article in this series will discuss SUNY faculty involvement in using the new technologies within academic labs.

For our pilots we will also use Mac Pro(s) and a Pegasus storage system to house and manage the videos that will be created as part of the lab pilots. These will also manage our fleet of iPads, which we are using as both first- and third-person-perspective video capture devices in the labs. We have set up accounts that are crucial for managing the iPads, including deploying applications out to the fleet as well as a number of remote management features that will help us keep an eye on the devices. For the first-person video perspective, as Google Glass requires a mobile device with wireless/sim card capabilities to pair with, we have found that the iPad Air's WiFi-only model will not work with the Apple Store MyGlass App. As an alternate solution, replacing the iPad Airs with the 3G-enabled model will work.

We will refine our orchestration of all of the technology (new and existing infrastructure, hardware, software and services) over the next couple of months. In fact, we have only about two months before our pilots go live in the Spring 2015 semester (starting Jan. 19, 2015). We're not so worried about getting the technology to work as we are more anxious to see what effect all of this has on the teaching/learning aspects in the pilot academic labs. Involving faculty and students from the beginning and working closely with them throughout will be the critical success factor of these pilots.

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