Are there times when educators might want to prohibit Google Glass?

The one Google Glass feature that draws so much media attention is its ability to record video unobtrusively. Many CME organizations have policies that prohibit recording, largely because of the fear that recorded information will be redistributed without the permission of a copyright holder.

But Glass also brings an opportunity for educators to embrace the recording and distribution of content—not by participants, but by the educators themselves as part of an effective content-marketing strategy. Video content is embraced by online learners and is a big positive for search engine optimization. Glass is a perfect tool to assist educators in creating meaningful and unique video content. (Content marketing is a multifaceted field. Here are in-depth content marketing resources if you want to learn more about it.)

The greater ethical and potentially legal reason why CME providers might prohibit Glass is to protect patient information. Increasingly, patient perspectives are being included in CME activities and educators are bound by an ethical obligation to keep this information confined to those within the room—unless patients have been told that their information will be recorded and broadcast. If you allow Glass, you should educate faculty to specifically announce when patient information is being discussed and request that all recording devices, including Glass, be turned off and put away.

“Do not fear technology. In settings where lectures happen, people won’t record if told not to do so,” says Rafael Grossmann, MD, FACS, attending surgeon at Eastern Maine Medical Center and the first surgeon to use Google Glass during a live surgical procedure. “A learner’s sense of professionalism extends from his or her practice into the learning environment.”

What are the positive uses of Google Glass in live educational settings?

There are also several advantages to allowing Glass use. For example, it can be hard for learners to see how instructors use equipment, such as new orthopedic or surgical devices, during demonstrations. However, instructors wearing Glass can stream live video to learners via tablets, projectors, or even the learner’s own Glass, enabling them to see the device demonstration from the instructor’s exact perspective.

For learners, Glass provides a real-time opportunity to augment the information they see in a live learning environment. For example, during a live CME course on aortic stenosis management, a Glass user could access a YouTube video of a stenotic aortic valve as a reminder of what a diseased heart looks like.

This real-time augmentation is particularly common among Millennial learners who are adept at learning in multiple modalities simultaneously. Those who teach in live educational formats such as grand rounds increasingly see students searching on their laptops for additional information in real time during lectures. Glass is just another way to do this.

“For training in anatomy, for example, a classroom of students could be shown a firsthand review of a procedure,” says Arshya Vahabzadeh, MD, a clinical fellow in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and resident psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital and McLean Hospital, and one of the expert panelists for the Medtech Boston Google Glass Challenge. “There is also potential for the view to be augmented with Google Glass displaying a procedure in a step-by-step manner for the wearer.”

“Glass has the ability to profoundly improve medical education,” says Jennifer Joe, MD, founder and editor-in-chief at MedTech Boston, CEO at medstro.com, and an emergency room physician in the Department of Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System. “This will be the first time we can view a surgery truly through a surgeon’s eyes creating an amazing learning experience like never before.”

How can Google Glass help my live education run smoother?

A significant challenge for conference organizers is keeping track of what is occurring in all geographic parts of an event. Glass provides a way for staff to share the view of wherever they are in an event venue—an especially useful feature for large CME conferences. The real-time perspective allows staff to shift resources, manage vendors, and resolve customer service issues more effectively.

Although many tools and apps for Glass still need development, it’s easy to imagine having a real-time heads-up display that shows the number of participants who check in, text messages from the AV team about equipment, Google Hangout messages from support staff that a speaker has not arrived, and streaming video from conference sessions to a conference operations center.

It’s also easy to imagine how Glass could enable a richer experience for learners and faculty alike. For example, international participants could do hands-free translation of signage and content. Presenters could access their notes and slides on Glass instead of looking at a screen, and could access questions from Google+ or a Google Hangout.

“You have many coders and developers using feedback from clinician Glass users like myself, and that combination is pretty explosive and will lead to some amazing things,” Grossmann says.