Will the Kinect have enough influence to transform learning environments around the world into true 21st century classrooms? If we evaluate trends, growing research, learning theory, and the market, most findings indicate that the Kinect may very well become the new technology centerpiece in schools. The indie development scene is active and many of the basic applications designed already have potential in classrooms around the world. Check out the Kinect Apps for Education directory to see the software that’s available and become a community member (it’s free) to start collaborating on your ideas.
Here are five reasons why the Kinect will succeed in schools and become a technology focal point of learning environments:
Reason 1: Content Relevancy Amplified
If you’re still on the fence about having Kinect in classrooms, I invite you to check out the video below. This resulted from the integration of powerful software and open source Kinect development, which we will see much more of in the future. This software is being completely controlled through gestures:
Reason 2: Minimizes Negative Influencers of the Education System
I understand the bureaucracy and system governing education institutions. We need the structure we’ve created to address things such as student absences, standardized assessments, and efficient learning within the blocks of time allocated for classes (especially for public education). But what has this come at the expense of? We’ve inadvertently blinded ourselves to sound pedagogy in order to maintain accountability. The Kinect will allow us to maintain that accountability all while aligning our classrooms with the most effective learning strategies.
Reason 3: Engages Learners Through Movement
Follow our human ancestry. When evaluating how we’ve been expecting our students to learn in the past 200 years – idly sitting in straight row desks listening to teacher lectures – we can conclude that this model is not at all aligned with who we are as people. With the Kinect, learners can become actively engaged in a new dimension within an enclosed classroom. Students literally become the controller. Unlike the Wii or Playstation Move, there’s no peripherals to hold; your entire body acts as the input device. I’m not saying that either of those aforementioned technologies aren’t amazing; they are. But with the Kinect, there’s simply no distracting devices to hold and the resulting user experience is seamless.
Minimal thought is sacrificed to thinking “how do I move the controller;” it’s intuitive and allows the user to allocate thought processes to higher-order thinking. Kinect is built around the user. With the exception of menu navigation, you don’t adapt to the device; the device is programmed to adapt to you.
Reason 4: Inexpensive & Advanced Technology
One reason why developers are excited about Kinect is its consumer selling price. Previously, similar technology had an unappealing price for consumers; as a result, few people had it and the market for development simply wasn’t there.
For $149, you get a device that can accomplish similar tasks and has mass developer support. As a result, this mass appeal contributes towards more active development of gesture-based applications – many of which will strongly influence academic gain. When comparing this dollar amount against other edtech, the technology is much cheaper. With our open source community promoting free access to Kinect apps in education, this is a one time purchase requiring no additional money.
I labeled this the “coffee shop principle” on another post detailing the advantages of leveraging inexpensive technology that can accomplish multiple tasks.
Reason 5: Acts as an Input Device First, Gaming Device Second
Visiting with other educators has provided me with insight that reflect these thoughts. This is the biggest and also most understandable hurdle most educators are trying to jump over.
It would be a stretch for me to say that integrating the Kinect game Michael Jackson: The Experience would target the standards I need to teach. If I took this approach, I would be integrating technology at the expense of relevant learning; this is the problem many teachers face with integrating new and innovative edtech. It may be fun and it may be innovative, but its novelty does very little to contribute towards academic gain.
Most people see Kinect as a gaming device simply because it was originally designed for the Xbox 360. But please, please look ahead and understand the implications of what this technology will do for our homes and schools. Microsoft is supporting “indie” developers by releasing a non-commercial SDK, which means that anyone with some background knowledge will be able to freely develop Kinect applications for the PC.
So, Kinectimals may not be the answer for your classroom, but multi-purpose applications like this could be:
How do you feel the Kinect will impact education? Feel free to post your thoughts in the community forum, on the KinectEDucation Facebook page or on Twitter using the hash tags #kinectedu and #glearning.