Dr. Hill and students
Wofford professor using Google Glass to enhance students' class experience

By Lee G. Healy
Spartanburg Herald-Journal 
Published: Friday, October 18, 2013

Anne Catlla / Herald-JournalPHOTO: Anne Catlla, assistant professor of mathematics at Wofford College, uses a computer in glasses form to enhance the classroom experience for her students. Photo by Alex Hicks Jr. / Spartanburg Herald-Journal 

Anne Catlla, assistant professor of mathematics at Wofford College, has a new view on technology.

Catlla was one of a select few chosen to try Google Glass — essentially a computer in glasses form — and has been using the cutting-edge technology to enhance the classroom experience for her students since the beginning of the semester.

Catlla won the right to buy a prototype of the product through an online competition last summer. She traveled to New York to pick up the glasses and was trained on how to use them at Google headquarters.

A small crystal situated just above the right eye serves as a computer screen, camera and more. At the sound of her voice — "OK Glass" — or with a swipe of her finger on the glasses' earpiece, Google Glass comes to life.

"The whole idea is you're supposed to be able to use technology — like you would a smartphone — without looking down," Catlla said.

Catlla had originally hoped to use facial recognition to instantly store and access information about her students, but the technology wasn't available. Instead, Catlla is using Google Glass to hold virtual office hours. She can answer questions by making and posting a video on how a problem is solved, for example.

"Students can see what my expectations would be," she explained.

Catlla also records student presentations and takes photos of completed problems for later review.

"If I wasn't wearing the glasses, it means I would have to remember it or furiously take notes," she said.

Catlla said the glasses have been a fun addition to class, especially for students.

Ben Chalmers, a senior math and economics major, said supplemental materials — like the study videos — made possible by Google Glass makes the technology more than a novelty.

"I think with math especially, the result isn't as important as how you get there, and this has really helped," said Chalmers, 22. "I think it's really fun."

For now, Catlla is only using Google Glass in her upper-level advanced differential equations class, but she hopes to take advantage of the technology as an element in more classes in the future.

She said she's beginning to see a world of new classroom possibilities.

"One of the things I like about using things like this in the classroom is that it breaks you out of your habitual ways and you think about some more creative ways to do things," she said.

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