Google has selected a Central Indiana teacher as one of the few people in the world to beta-test the new Google Glass device, and he has his students to thank.
When Don Wettrick launched an Innovations class at Franklin High School this school year, he says he drew some inspiration from Google.
“I thought, wouldn’t it be great to have almost a “Google Time” for a class,” Wettrick said. “Google allows you to have 20 percent of your workday on whatever you want to research, on whatever you want to do.”
Wettrick said his students have thrived in the class, choosing to develop apps with international businesses and craft online classes for international students, to name just a couple of their ambitious projects.
Then, in February, Franklin junior Briceson Hill saw a video for Google Glass, which showed how a pair of interactive glasses could combine interactive online tools in real life.
“I was thinking that, that is the coolest thing that I’ve ever seen,” Hill said. “It was like the future is here.”
When Google announced it was looking for regular people to apply to be part of the beta test, the class decided to get Wettrick signed up.
“It was their idea to go ahead and apply,” Wettrick said.
There was just one, slight problem. The day the Innovations class found out about Google Glass was the day submissions were due. The students quickly got to work in the school’s TV studio, producing an application video featuring their teacher, within the 15-second time constraints that Google required.
“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.”
Early Friday morning, Don received a message from Google, saying he’d been invited to join the Google Glass program. He quickly shared the good news.
“I just kind of glanced at my phone and in all caps I saw, ‘WE HAVE GLASS’ and I kind of started screaming a little bit,” said Gavin Crenshaw, a senior. “I was glad I was by myself.”
“I started jumping up and down and screaming. I kind of ran downstairs and told everybody,” Hill said.
“I mean, this kind of stuff never happens,” Crenshaw said. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
“I can be teaching class and have other Google Hangout people watch my class,” Wettrick said. “I think that’s exciting, collaborating with people, who knows, all over the world.”
The excitement isn’t free though, to take part Don says he has to buy a plane ticket to Google in California and pay $1,500 for the glasses.
“It’s an experience that’s going to cost me about $2,000, but I think my wife will understand, ‘Hi honey, I love you!'” Wettrick said with a laugh. “I think she’ll understand because this is beta testing something monumental and it’s all completely worth it for education and how many times do (the students) get the opportunity to beta test something that’s this monumental? It’s amazing.”
Wettrick said it will be at least several weeks before he can pick up the glasses. His students hope to develop new apps for the device and also want to integrate it into the international class they are working on.