We got a request for help on our twitter stream. A technology coordinator from a school in the USA (@mpowers3 on twitter) had been given a Google Glass to try out with her students. She wondered how she could use it to support teaching and learning in her school. It occurred to her that perhaps students in her school and in other schools would have some good ideas. She was particularly interested in gathering ideas from younger students. She set up a blog where she could gather and share information and tweeted out a request for help.
I explained the project to the children and showed the children the website. I asked the children if they were interested in helping @mpowers3 with her research and they said they were.
I asked the children how they thought the Glass could help children learn. Unusually, the children were slow to respond and when they did, their answers were not obviously related to the question. It occurred to me that the question I had asked required the children to think abstractly about something that they had never experienced. I hadn’t asked the right question, offered a meaningful invitation. As I pondered on what I could do to make the question more accessible to the children, Yungi suggested that everyone build their own Glass. There was unanimous support for this idea. Without further ado, the children went to work. Jaiden asked if I could put the photo of the Glass up on the screen so that children could refer back to it as they designed their Glasses.
For the next forty five minutes the children worked busily, creating, constructing, testing, adapting, changing, collaborating, and problem solving. Most of the children made more than one model, selecting different materials and getting new ideas from their peers. Several children finished their Glass and walked around the classroom giving verbal instructions to the Glass to take imaginary photographs of things. I overheard groups of children discussing what their Glass would be useful for. When it was time to tidy up, the children asked if they could continue to work on their Glasses tomorrow.
Click here for a slide show of the children creating, collaborating, problem-solving as they go about their inquiry
As I reflect on the process so far, I am reminded of the importance of framing a good research question and thinking carefully about a meaningful provocation. I am thankful for Yungi’s suggestion. I was struggling to find a way to make the experience meaningful for the children and Yungi’s idea was the perfect solution. The children are highly engaged and are motivated to continue working on their designs. They have been engaging in creative, mathematical and linguistic thinking; they have used research skills, thinking skills, communication skills and social skills; they have collaborated, created and problem-solved.
We have scheduled large chunks of time over the next days for the children to continue with their inquiry. Once the children have had the opportunity to experiment with different designs and materials and have tried wearing their Glasses around the classroom, I predict they will find it easier to think about practical applications for Google Glass in their learning environment. Once again, twitter has provided a provocation and an authentic audience that has led to transdiciplinary inquiry and learning. I am intrigued to see how this inquiry unfolds.