Higher Education and Technology

Video: Calvin College instructor sees education through Google Glass

May 8, 2013
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Calvin instructor sees online education through Google Glass
Calvin College instructor Andrew Vanden Heuvel wears Google Glass to walk students through the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland — the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator. Photo via youtube.com

Imagine wearing glasses that served as your personal computer. Welcome to the world of Google Glass.

Google Glass, Google’s new smartphone take on eyewear, is how Andrew Vanden Heuvel, an online astronomy instructor at Calvin College and alum, was able to teach a class seated on the other side of the world.

Vanden Heuvel, one of the 8,000 Google Explorers who are serving as a test group for the prototype, wore Google Glass to the world’s largest particle physics laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland, while instant video chatting through the glasses to students seated in South Christian High School in Grand Rapids.

More people have climbed Mount Everest than have ridden a bike in the laboratory’s 27-kilometer-long tunnel, he said while riding said bike to the delight of the awestruck students who were watching him through his glasses.

"The fact that I was able to share this experience with students, even answering their questions in real-time, is simply mind-blowing," Vanden Heuvel said.

Vanden Heuvel is currently developing a way to work Google Glass into the classroom as part of the educational experience. He said one way to do this would be to allow students to see recordings of how to set up equipment and perform experiments.

This could also serve to enhance global education and interaction with international students, as he demonstrated in Switzerland.

"It's really exciting to think about (making) Calvin accessible to people around the world," he said. "It's exactly the same for someone in South Africa and for someone sitting in Grand Rapids to take my astronomy class. There's tremendous potential for opening up what's happening at Calvin globally."

If anyone knows about how to create online classes, Vanden Heuvel does. He has created online courses for K-12 students in astronomy, biology, calculus, pre-calculus, and physics with the nonprofit Michigan Virtual School.

According to his website, he also has worked with educational teams to develop online professional development courses for teachers focusing on the use of apps in the classroom.

For his efforts, he was recognized as the 2010 Michigan Online Teacher of the Year and became a finalist for the national honor.

"Andrew's a very talented teacher, always had a heart for teaching, a deep love for astronomy and he shares that passion with his students," said Deb Haarsma, Calvin physics and astronomy professor. “He has the skills to communicate in an online medium, making it an effective learning platform."

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