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4/2/2013
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Google Glass Testing Goes To High School

Meet an Indiana high school teacher who will take part in the Google Glasses beta test. One subject he teaches: innovation.

Google Chromebook Pixel: Visual Tour
Google Chromebook Pixel: Visual Tour
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Forget apples. Central Indiana high school teacher Don Wettrick is getting something much better: a pair of Google Glasses.

The Franklin High School teacher will join about 8,000 others who have been selected by Google to try out its interactive, Internet-connected spectacles. The first commercial version of Google Glass, dubbed Glass Explorer Edition, won't arrive until next January, according to Google.

"I found out Saturday morning. They sent an email and a tweet," Wettrick told InformationWeek Education in a phone interview. Although happy about being selected, Wettrick said he wasn't all that surprised, because his class was, he said, a "perfect match."

"I hate to sound arrogant, but a lot of applicants wanted to film a wedding or a basketball game," he said. "We represent Google's spirit."

[ Will Google Glasses enhance or interfere with reality? Read Google Glass: Vision For Future Unclear. ]

Wettrick was referring to his Innovations class. Now in its first year, it allows the 17- and 18-year-olds to collaborate on projects of their own choosing. In this sense, the class of 20 mirrors Google's own policy of letting employees devote 20% of their time to passion-driven projects.

The students find experts through their local networks or, increasingly, via Twitter. Projects are documented through weekly video blogs, and all the work is substantiated against Common Core State Standards, Wettrick said.

To date, the students have worked with a tech startup in Seattle and an app developer in Beijing. A group of three students built a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) and will serve as teachers when it launches in three weeks.

In fact, it was Wettrick's self-starter students who encouraged their teacher to apply for the Google Glass beta program.

Wettrick's entry, created and submitted on the day submissions were due on Feb. 27, includes a 15-second video. It was a natural choice for Wettrick, a broadcast teacher. "If I'm selected, it won't just be for me, It'll be for my entire class," Wettrick said in the video. "I run a publicly educated class called Innovations, and in this class we communicate and collaborate with other experts. This would allow us the opportunity to work with Google and then communicate our results to the world."

How will Wettrick's class use Google Glass?

"We have an interest in video," he said. "But I think the students see this as an opportunity to be a game-changer in education. It's less about video and more about collaborating with other schools, teachers and students."

Last month, at the SXSW conference in Austin, Texas, Google provided more detail on Google Glass, including how developers will write applications for the interactive eyewear.

As for Wettrick and the other Glasses beta testers, the honor of being chosen does not come free. Not only do they have to travel to California, they will have to pay $1,500 for the glasses, when they become available to beta testers in the next several weeks.

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