10 Great Moments in 2011 for Kinect in Education

written by Johnny Kissko

2011 was the first full year Kinect was available, and what an exciting year it’s been! Let’s take a look back at some of the major developments that occurred over the last 12 months.  In no particular order, here are 10 major developments for Kinect in education that took place in 2011.



1.  KinectEducation Begins

KinectEducation officially started in March 2011 with the same vision then that there is now – establishing a  community of developers and education stakeholders to create Kinect resources to use in classrooms.  We’re on a mission to transform classrooms, and we want you to join us.  We’re open for educators, developers, students, parents, and Kinect enthusiasts!


2.  Kinect SDK Released

Source: kinectforwindows.org

This was a major milestone for developing Kinect applications.  This ensured that development would have stable support and “plug-and-go” solutions would eventually exist for mainstream teachers without the hassle of compiling code and other things that are very technical-related.


3.  Stephen Howell’s Scratch and Kinect

Simple coding hits the masses with Stephen Howell’s Kinect and Scratch program.  Stephen’s ability to teach and program makes it easy for just about anyone to learn how to develop Kinect applications using Scratch.


4.  Kinect Effect

This, in my opinion, was pivotal for revealing the value of using Kinect in the classroom. This post also features several potential classroom applications of Kinect.  Although much has emerged since this was written, it still provides a great reference point for those new to exploring Kinect.


5.  Microsoft’s Innovative Educator Forums

I know that for myself and many others, this was one of our career highlights.  KinectEducation was presented in Seattle, Washington at Microsoft’s US Partners in Learning Forum where it caught up with the minds of Doug Bergman, Lou Zulli, Margaret Noble, and most importantly, an amazing group of students,  to create a winning project at Microsoft’s Global Forum in Washington, D.C.  US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan also played the game, which was fascinating to see. Judging from Twitter conversations, Microsoft UK and others also hosted exceptional conferences that revealed the talent and skill of several people doing amazing things with the Kinect in their learning environments.

Check out the dinner we had at our last night of the event!

There was a lot of dialogue at the Global Forum about how the Kinect will transform classrooms.  At the US Forum, we listened to Dr. John Medina talk about the value exercise adds to academic achievement.  We also heard Jane McGonical talk about how valuable games are to lifelong learning.  At the Global Forum, Kinect was all the rage as revealed by speakers and activities that took place at the forum.


6.  Kinect in Education Activities

I was honored to be part of this team of amazing educators who developed the first round of Microsoft’s “Kinect in Education” activities.  More resources to emerge here as time passes!

Source: Kinect Activities

Kinect also added Sesame Street and National Geographic to Xbox Live, revealing future possibilities with edutainment.

7.  First “What Will You Create” Contest

We had our first contest to kick-start some dialogue about creating education-relevant applications, and we had two great winners emerge – Nayi Disha and Kinect Math.  It was a little early as most schools have yet to start using the Kinect SDK, but we know this will be a part of computer science curricula soon.  We’ll continually have contests, so stay tuned to what’s next! 

Check out what emerged throughout the duration of this contest and watch this section for new content to emerge.  All the apps you find here will be free for all educators.


8.  Custom App Development and Deployment

New people have started to join the cause and we’re very excited to see what emerges in 2012.  Resources like Kinect Projects at Channel 9’s Coding For Fun, Ray Chambers’ site, and our emerging repository of contributions from people and organizations from around the globe who are on board with our mission.  Stay tuned!

9.  Kinect Accelerator & Kinect Startups

The Kinect Accelerator program was announced in November of 2011 to encourage innovative applications of using Kinect.  Here’s an excerpt describing what the Kinect Acclerator is:

Microsoft is supporting entrepreneurs, engineers and innovators like you to bring to life a wide range of business ideas that leverage the limitless possibilities Kinect enables. Following a competitive screening process, ten finalists will be chosen for this unique three month incubation program running from March to May, 2012 in Seattle, WA. The Kinect Accelerator is “powered by TechStars” using the same mentor-driven methodology pioneered and proven in New York, Boulder, Seattle and Boston. Mentors for the Kinect Accelerator include a broad base of entrepreneurs and venture capitalists in the industry as well as executives from Microsoft Studios, Xbox, Microsoft Research and other Microsoft organizations. Teams selected will receive an investment of $20,000 along with several other perks.  While education is a target, gaming, retail, the medical field, and other sectors also qualify.

Also, we started to see things like “Words with Bears”, Nuvixa’s StagePresence, Reallusion’s iClone 5, and other Kinect startups emerge that will serve to really enhance teaching and learning.


10. “Join the Mission” Campaign Starts

Our first team members are now being announced and more will be announced as time progresses. These introductions will take place consistently and include people from multiple backgrounds and from every continent around the globe!  (For those wanting more content on the home page, the site will be redesigned soon so that introductions will be in a specific area).

This is a very exciting time, and we’d love to have you be a part of our international mission to transform classrooms! From the development of resources to actual classroom deployment, you play a critical role in what we’re doing.  Contact us to join!


That’s it!  2012 will be a very exciting year as Kinect starts to make more of a presence in schools.  Even in my own school, people are now starting to express a desire to learn how to program Kinect and are wanting to use the Kinect in classrooms.  Delivering a connected education for all learners will soon be a reality for students across the world.


With everything going in with Kinect, there’s undoubtedly more stories to be told. What’s your story for 2011?  If you have something you’d like to share, contact us and we’ll share it here!


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