It may be early to see Kinect in many classrooms, but it’s becoming more evident that Kinect is being supported as an effective learning tool.
1. Facilitate Research-Supported Learning
Active learning increases academic performance. For many classroom teachers, the most challenging question has been “how.” There are so many constraints and parameters that prevent active learning from becoming a consistent classroom experience. It’s my belief that Kinect can overcome the parameters isolating active learning from classrooms. Furthermore, The Horizon Report reveals that gesture-based learning is an upcoming trend that will be integrated in the field of education over the next few years.
Conclusively, gesture-based learning facilitates active learning; Kinect is a consumer-friendly tool providing the gesture-based experience.
2. Seamlessly Integrate Technology
The irony of technology integration is that it’s most effective when it “disappears,” meaning that users are so engaged in the content that reflecting on the actual technology is minimal. For instance, the Wii offers a great active experience, but users are required to be constantly aware of the device and follow (at times) non-intuitive rules. Kinect is seamless; as long as the software is well-programmed, user awareness of the device is rare.
3. Embrace Cultural Diversity
Combining a virtual lobby with full facial and body tracking, users can globally connect with others from around the globe. Students can control their avatars in augmented learning environments with other students from anywhere in the world.. Since the device is cheap, this excludes no population. For instance, Microsoft is piloting Kinect in Africa, a sure sign this device can reach learners from all demographics and socioeconomic statuses.
Check out the Avatar Kinect trailer below, which is expected to be released in July 2011:
4. Establish Content Relevancy
It would be ideal if every classroom could have an authentic lab to further explore content, but it would also be naïve to think this is feasible. Virtual labs are great, especially in schools that may not be able to provide “real” labs. However, augmented labs that integrate gestures and Kinect will bridge the gap between virtual labs and true-to-life labs.
5. Explore New Environments
One moment, you may be exploring the universe; the next moment, exploring the human body. All of this can be done within a standard classroom. Pundits will argue that this is far-fetched. I understand their angle and arguments; after all, this new technology has had little classroom exposure. But when we evaluate learning research, instructional needs, and the relatively inexpensive price for Kinect, it becomes further evident that this technology will be a 21st century tool to facilitate instruction.
Check out the Kinect Apps for Education, where users can download and submit their own Kinect developments. Want to start creating your own Kinect software? Scope out the Teacher’s Guide for Kinect Development for beginner-level programming. Anyone can contribute; as you grow more advanced, consider downloading the Kinect SDK to create more advanced software. While it’s still new, the community forums have help to get you started with the Kinect SDK.