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The effective use of smart glasses for assessment in further education
COVID-19 has thrust technology into the limelight, particularly in educational settings. This has resulted in increased funding, through combined authority initiatives, to support and develop the use of educational technology (EdTech), including Artificial Intelligence (AI). Teachers need to become empowered with a range of digital competencies, to be ready for the rapid advance of AI and other technologies in the future (DQ Framework, 2021). The purpose of this project was to research the use of AI in the form of wearable technology as a valid assessment tool in technical and professional environments in further education. Human-Data Interaction (HDI) places humans at the centre of the process that gathers data about individuals ((Mortier et al 2014) so, in order to fully appreciate and evaluate the project it is also necessary to explore HDI, with a focus on legibility and agency.
The project team, comprised of subject teachers and technical experts, saw this as an opportunity to use technology in an innovative way to explore assessment risk-free (Traxler et al, 2020) in a ‘postdigital’ educational setting. As the technology was not being used formally for summative or end-point assessment (apart from on one occasion) the stakes were low. There was no risk of learners ‘failing’ crucial assessments because of potential issues with using untried and untested technology.
The potential to use smart glasses for teaching, learning and assessment purposes in a risk-free way is appealing. Learners can practise or demonstrate skills, carry out tasks in a simulated environment assisted by technology where safety is not compromised or simply record snippets of conversations when those ‘light bulb’ moments happen. Furthermore, having access to work place environments to gather important data about teaching and learning, which may otherwise be difficult due to logistical constraints is also appealing. This chapter will outline the experiences of teachers and learners during the project and highlight the affordances wearable technology can offer, especially in practical/technical areas such as construction and motor vehicle. It will also consider the nature and role of data collected and how this data was instrumental in evaluating the project.
Smart glasses capture visual and audio information from the lens of the wearer. The wearer is in control of any data that is captured. In this project, in an FE environment where data protection is crucial to ensuring the safeguarding of learners, the technology was not used in public areas to minimise issues around privacy and security. Although some of the glasses can be considered a ‘fashion item’ it was easy to distinguish these glasses from standard spectacles and visual cues reflected a privacy-by-design approach (EDPS, 2019) where those in the proximity of the glasses are aware that they are being recorded. In all technical and professional settings for this project, learners were conscious that smart glasses were being used regularly in the classroom or workshop. Care was taken to ensure that personal data of those not involved in the project was not captured (EDPS, 2019) as the team did not want to compromise data protection.
The project trialled the use of the glasses from different lenses. Those of learners ‘self-assessing’, learners ‘peer-assessing’ and the lens of teachers and mentors. There were differences in how the data was gathered. In the construction and motor vehicle areas data was gathered in a more ‘natural’ way. Learners were aware they were being filmed throughout their sessions (and all consented to do so). Both were in busy, noisy workshop environments with numerous learners, teachers, technicians and others coming and going. All learners in the group gave consent to be recorded but additional visitors or lecturers did not, so only recordings involving those giving explicit consent were included in the data analysis.
However, even in more relaxed settings where the glasses were used more frequently and ‘less intrusively’ the ‘surveillance’ nature of the glasses may prevent learners from acting in a completely authentic way. This can be mitigated to some extent by the environment. In this instance there was an environment of trust and honesty from the start. Teachers had been working with learners for some time, so relationships had already been established. Legibility of HDI (Mortier et al 2014) here was important. The learners were aware they were being recorded, what was going to happen to the data and subsequent use. They were actively involved throughout – in the discussions about the practical side of use the glasses, including the collection of data and the teaching and learning side of using the technology. In some cases, learners were encouraged to devise their own tasks to test the viability of the glasses.
The findings of the research indicate that smart glasses could be a valid assessment method from a pedagogical perspective. However, more attention needs to be paid to ethical considerations of data collection if the glasses are to be used more widely, especially if they are going to used in workplace settings or public areas.
References DQ Institute. (2021) What is the DQ Framework? Global Standards for Digital Literacy Skills and Readiness. https://www.dqinstitute.org/global-standards/#contentblock1 Accessed 24 November 2021. EDPS (2019) Smart glasses and data protection. https://edps.europa.eu/sites/default/files/publication/19-01-18_edps-tech-report-1-smart_glasses_en.pdf Accessed 24 November 2021. Mortier, R., Haddadi, H., Henderson, T., McAuley, D., & Crowcroft, J. (2014). Human-data interaction: The human face of the data-driven society. Available at: https://arxiv.org/pdf/1412.6159.pdf. Accessed 28 February 2022. Traxler, J., Scott, H., Smith, M., & Hayes, S. (2020). Learning through the crisis Helping decision-makers around the world use digital technology to combat the educational challenges produced by the current COVID-19 pandemic (No. 1). EdTech Hub. https://docs.edtechhub.org/lib/CD9IAPFX/download/5N87EV2E/TraxlerLearningthroughthecrisisHelpingdecision-maker.pdf. Accessed 26 June 2021.