education reform


Wecome, Ben Allen, to KinectEducation! Student, Developer, Drummer

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

Welcome, Ben Allen, to KinectEducation!

Ben Allen is a student from the UK, where he crafts websites, software and apps. He has been passionately running the business ( for over a year now, with a quickly growing portfolio. Self-taught in C#, Java, PHP and HTML, to name a few, Ben actively gets involved in new projects to see what he can bring forward. His enthusiasm continues outside of work, where Ben enjoys playing the drums, mountain biking and reading.  Ben has an admirable passion and skill for creating digital content that enhances learning and builds communities.  The work that he’s doing is an extension of his passions – creating innovative applications using the latest technology available.  Ben has a contagious enthusiasm for technology and we’re here to partner it with other educators, students, and developers. 

What’s Ben been up to so far?  In addition to creating a Kinect physics game, Ben has been collaborating on a project with Cody Short, a student in Virginia, who will also soon be announced.   While the project they’re working on in itself will reflect great work, it’s the process that’s absolutely the most fascinating. 

The students, developers, researchers, and educators here are pioneering a new dimension of learning that minimizes cultural and device preference barriers. Ben is from the UK, Cody is from the USA, Kim Jackson is from South Africa, Patricio is from Chile, Guillermo is from Mexico City… and this list continues to grow.  There is no isolation here.  There is no “us,” “them”, “Brand A” or “Brand B.” We are all connected and from our own unique perspectives see the value of what our classrooms will look like through creating compelling content with Kinect. We’re leveraging each of our unique skillsets to create something bigger than what any of us would have done on our own. 

We’d love for you to create with us!  Join the movement.



Welcome, Lakshman Sankar, to KinectEducation!

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

Welcome, Lakshman Sankar, to KinectEducation!

Lakshman Sankar is a graduate student and entrepreneur who is very excited to see how natural user interfaces will affect technology used in the classroom.  He recently graduated from MIT majoring in Physics and Computer Science and is currently completing a Master’s degree (still at MIT) in Computer Science.  During this time, he is also conducting research at MIT CSAIL in gestural interface design.

Lakshman has always been interested in education.  Before coming to MIT, he planned on studying and eventually teaching physics.  At MIT, he discovered a love for technology and building things and realized the impact he could have with technology in education.  His final year at MIT, he co-Founded Braingenie (, an e-learning tool/curriculum that hopes will be a game changer in math and science enrichment.

Lakshman is very excited about the changing role technology is playing in educational tools and believes that the Kinect opens an entirely new range of possibilities.  Lakshman has engaged in prior work in large development environments and also provides a solid framework for tackling large projects. 

When visiting with Lakshman, it’s very clear that his primary purpose is to help learners by creating a “Connected Education,” and his skillset facilitates this higher purpose.  With everyone’s overlapping skillset and common vision, we aim to carry ideas from development to deployment to provide  Kinect Effect experiences to transform the traditional classroom model. 

Lakshman, we’re honored to have you!

We’d love for you to be a part of this!  Join the movement.



Welcome, Julie Sessions, to KinectEducation! Educator & Curriculum Specialist

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

Welcome, Julie Sessions to KinectEducation!

Julie Sessions is an educator with 18 years of classroom experience in both public and private schools. She has taught a wide range of grades and subject material ranging from first grade through seventh grade.  Her specialty is science, but she has also taught Reading, Math, and Social Studies. Julie has chaired departments, lead grade levels, presented at numerous conferences, and formally evaluated teachers. This unique perspective gives Julie the knowledge to better help her fellow teachers as a curriculum specialist. Julie has her Master’s Degree in Reading, is a Reading Diagnostician, and has her Doctorate in Curriculum Studies. Hands-on exploration, interdisciplinary learning and cross-curricular units are Julie’s specialties.  She has a passion for learning that is contagious!

Currently, Julie is teaching at Porter-Gaud School in Charleston, SC where she is also the Lower School Curriculum Coordinator. With extensive work on analyzing and developing curriculums, she shares her knowledge with the faculty and staff to help incorporate 21st century learning skills into the current curriculum. Julie is very excited to be a part of the team and looks forward to using her skills to help with lesson development and curriculum integration.

You gain a strong sense of who Julie is very quickly. Julie loves that we’re here doing something much bigger here than what any of us could do alone.  Taking an idea, spinning it off the brilliance of others, and then coming up with something bigger than what we could have originally imagined ourselves – that’s the ultimate collaborative effort.  Julie, welcome aboard!  We’re very excited to have you here!

We’ve got voices from developers, educators, and students that will soon emerge from Mexico, the UK, Australia, and elsewhere!   This team is open to anyone from all ages, countries, and backgrounds.  We’d love to have you part of what we’re doing.

Join the movement.



Doug Bergman’s Beginner’s Guide to Kinect Programming

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

Created by Doug Bergman @

What will you create? Join the movement.

This is an introductory guide to getting started with Kinect programming and is broken up into three parts. Part I describes how to install the appropriate software and Parts II and III (in one video) help set up the coding environment to begin programming with Kinect

Update: This guide is for an earlier Kinect SDK release; Doug has written additional curriculum content which can be accessed here.


Getting Started with Creating Games and Apps with Kinect

Part I: Installing Required Software

Requirements: To start developing with Kinect, you will need:

You can buy just the Kinect (without the Xbox 360) camera for $100-$150. NOTE: If you use a camera that came with an Xbox system, it will not have the USB/Power cord with it, you’ll need one of those. You can purchase this online here. USB: HDE Power Supply Cable for Kinect.

Downloading & Installing Visual Studio C#:

  1. 1. Download Visual Studio C# Express
  2. 2. Click “Install NOW”
  3. 3. On the next page, locate the blue link titled “Install Visual Studio 2010 Express C#” (do not click the TRIAL). This will install the Visual Studio installer on your computer.
  4. Source: Visual Studio 2010

  5. 4. Double click that file and it will complete the begin install process.
  6. 5. Uncheck “SQL server.” You will then see the following screen:


Image Description: Beginning of installing Visual Studio Express

This download contains over 100 MB of information, so it may take a while to complete. Go get some coffee or wash your car :).

Downloading & Installing XNA 4.0:

Now, we’re going to install the Xbox game programming environment called XNA 4.0. With XNA 4.0, you can also create games for Windows, Windows Phone or Xbox.

XNA 4.0:

Downloading & Installing Kinect SDK Beta 2:

Next, install the Kinect SDK Beta 2. This install allows the computer hardware and software to interact with the Kinect camera and the data it sends or receives.

First, determine whether your Windows 7 operating system is a 32-bit or 64-bit system. Check this by right-clicking on “My Computer” and selecting properties.


Download the Kinect SDK Beta 2 from

Find the appropriate download that matches your operating system.

Source: Kinect for Windows


After this final step, you’re finished with part one!

Parts II and III: Beginning Programming

The video below serves as an introductory guide for beginning with Kinect programming.


If you have any questions or run into any problems, feel free to contact us.

Join the movement

Doug Bergman | KinectEducation | Microsoft Partner in Learning



Welcome, Kim Jackson, to KinectEducation! Educator, Discoverer, Learner

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

Welcome, Kim Jackson, to KinectEducation!

I was honored with the opportunity to meet Kim while we were at Microsoft’s Global Forum in Washington, DC.  Kim’s classroom integration with Kinect is much like my own and everyone else’s. We have the vision of how this classroom will look and work; together, our collective abilities will serve to do great things together.  I think that there’s an understandable tendency to think that everyone here has everything figured out.  We don’t – we are all here striving for the ideal and collectively have the drive and leadership abilities within our own areas of expertise to make it happen. Kim’s vision of how to best reach learners and her ability to collaborate across cultures are two highly regarded assets to help pioneer the effort.

Here’s a background of who Kim is and how she hopes to play a role in this mission:

I am a South African teacher who has been teaching for 7 years. I am currently HOD at St Cyprian’s School in Cape Town, South Africa. I joined the school at the beginning of this year and met up with my colleague, Louise Clarke. I have taught Grade 4 for many years and Louise and I both wanted to challenge as well as enthuse our girls with regards to creative writing, so we decided to incorporate ICT whilst teaching.

St Cyprian’s School is a Microsoft Mentor School and it is here that our Head, Tracy Laubscher, introduced us to the Microsoft Innovative Teachers’ Competition. Louise and I were finalists in the competition and flew to Washington DC, USA in November. While South African education needs to improve, especially in ICT, it is here that we had the privilege of meeting fantastic teachers who introduced us to diverse and amazing ways we could incorporate ICT in the classroom back home. Subsequently, our school has purchased an XBOX Kinect and we would like to begin the journey of marrying ICT and education.

We want our girls to become active participants in the classroom; gone are the old- fashioned teaching methodologies, where the teacher dictates facts and the students listen. Louise and I analyzed the use of ICT in the classroom over the year and came to the conclusion that students perform better (results wise) if ICT is incorporated into the classroom environment. It need not become completely ICT related, but must be used as a tool. We have evidence that our students’ results, when using ICT, far surpassed their "usual" marks and as an educator, it was an extremely interesting discovery. With that being said, I cannot wait to be a part of such an exciting time in education, particularly in SA. I look forward to using Kinect and seeing what is being done around the world.

Kim, very honored to have you as a member of this group committed to transforming classrooms around the globe!

Join the Mission

Kim Jackson | KinectEducation | Microsoft Partner in Learning



Doug Bergman’s Intro to Kinect Programming

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

In this five minute video, Doug Bergman provides a glimpse into basic Kinect programming. More to come from Doug as time progresses!

Update: Doug has provided a more comprehensive guide that is available here.


Doug Bergman | KinectEducation | Microsoft Partner in Learning

Join the mission


10 Great Moments in 2011 for Kinect in Education

Sunday, December 18th, 2011

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


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!



Welcome, Andrew Miller, to KinectEducation! Educator, Blogger, GBL Expert

Friday, December 16th, 2011

Welcome, Andrew Miller, to KinectEducation!

Andrew Miller has spent many years in education, as a classroom teacher, an online teacher, curriculum developer, instructional coach, teacher leader, and educational consultant. He has used his skills in Authentic Intellectual Work, Online Education, Project-Based Learning, STEM, 21st Century Learning and Culturally Responsive Teaching to create an engaging learning environment for all students.

After graduating with his Masters from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA; Andrew started teaching in the diverse district of Federal Way Public Schools. He taught highly capable AP students as well as students in credit retrieval. These years honed his instructional skills and classroom “bag of tricks,” but he felt something was missing. He knew that he wasn’t serving all student learning styles and modalities, and so he began his own learning in cultural competency in order to improve his practice. In his research, Project Based Learning (PBL) kept surfacing as a valid pedagogy to reach all students. He saw this as a pedagogy that aligned with his values of equity for all students and true student constructivism.

Andrew currently serves on the National Faculty for the Buck Institute for Education. He travels internationally, training educators and presenting at conferences around his areas of expertise. He also works with Abeo School Change (Formally known as the Small Schools Project) to increase their Web 2.0 presence and collaborate with education innovators. He is also part of the National Faculty for ASCD, and has presented at a variety of conferences including the National Association for Multicultural Education National Council for Teachers of English, and iNACOL’s Virtual Schools Symposium. He is an avid blogger for a variety of organizations including edReformer, ASCD, Edutopia and the education section of the Huffington Post. He also has written curriculum for Connections Academy, which is used nationally in their online schools, and provided PBL expertise for Facing the Future, a sustainability and global awareness and action curriculum organization.

We are very excited to have Andrew as a part of this team!  As you can see, his background and experience within education and games-based learning will serve as a huge asset towards growing this community.

Join the movement.


Johnny Kissko | KinectEducation | Microsoft Partner in Learning



Welcome Kartik Aneja to the KinectEducation Team!

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

Welcome Kartik Aneja to the KinectEducation Team! Kartik is in his final year as a student at the Goa campus within BITS-Pilani  in India. According to Outlook India, BITS-Pilani is the “Top Private Engineering College” in the country.

Kartik’s passions? Coding and animation. He’s been coding since he was 10 years old; with his artistic abilities and interest in computer generated imagery, he’s made several videos that can be found on his YouTube channel. Even though he thinks he’s a better programmer than designer, Kartik believes that both science and art essential in order to make things people love. Kartik said that Steve Jobs has been a major source of inspiration for him. He loves his notions about technology and his care for simplicity; he inspires Kartik to be a better designer, even though he’s from a core science background.

Kartik is currently working at HP Labs in India and has done several projects in HCl. He has served as the chief designer for his college’s sponsorship team. Kartik also currently serves as the chief technology officer and chief designer for an Indian social media marketing firm.  Among his many accolades, Kartik’s team reached the semi-finals of the Dell Social Innovation Challenge.  Kartik is also honored to see the amount of attention that Nayi Disha is receiving and looks forward to continue his developments with this project. 🙂

Kartik’s role on the team?  He’s a utility player for us!  He will helping with the development of guides, apps, and other related content. 

All of us are thrilled to have Kartik as a member of this team.  He has committed to providing and keeping his developments on KinectEducation, while of course maintaining the rights to his intellectual property.

Want to contribute?  Join us, everyone has a role to play!

Post updated on 12/15/2011. There was a misunderstanding on where the source of university rankings came from; post was updated to accurately reflect the source of information.

Johnny Kissko | KinectEDucation | Microsoft Partner in Learner



Congratulations Kinect Math Team, Winners of “What Will You Create?” Contest!

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

Congratulations to the University of Washington Bothell team for their winning submission in KinectEDucation’s first “What Will You Create?” contest!  This team won for the “Best App” category. 

Jeb Pavleas and Jack Chang were were the programmers of the application.  Professor Robin Angotti was the idea originator and  Professor Kelvin Sung served as a mentor throughout development.  As a math teacher myself, I was thrilled to see a submission that had real classroom relevancy.  This last weekend while working with the “Kinect in Education” team in Washington, DC, Robin had me demo the application in front of everyone.  The experience was kinesthetic learning at its best.  In case this is your first time to hear about “Kinect Math,” here is the video produced describing their project:


The team chose to use Microsoft’s Kinect sensor because it provided the ability to explore a Natural User Interface with mathematics.  Additionally, they could leverage the speech recognition technology to reach an an audience that may be less technical. 

In a document outlining the project’s overview, Jeb Pavleas revealed that “our goal with Kinect Math is to give educators the ability to reengage struggling math students by getting them physically involved with the abstract math concepts. They hope that math teachers with access to a Kinect will integrate Kinect Math into their lesson plan and give students have a chance to learn from non-traditional methods in addition to the textbook.  Kinesthetic learning (learning by carrying out a physical activity) has a place in the education system and should be explored.

Additionally, they hope that by releasing this as open source software that it will be added to and improve upon with other people’s ideas.  Being physically disabled, Jeb’s experiences with Kinect Math has cultivated an interest in him to continue exploring alternative methods for controlling the computer with Kinect.  Hopefully, other people can improve on the code to continue building life-changing applications.

Since the Kinect was released, Jack Chang always has had an interest in using the device to improve people’s lives.  Jack grew up an avid gamer; like many of our students today, Jack loved playing games more than reading dry textbooks and listening to tedious lectures (right there with you, Jack!).  Jack despised it so much that it resulted in him giving up his high school education. 

But then, Jack realized that playing video games all day wasn’t going to lead him anywhere.  So, he asked himself “why not make learning just as fun as playing games?”  This thought served as the catalyst to bring him back into the classroom; he dedicated himself to the pedagogy of making learning more enjoyable and then applying what he learned.

The $500 contest award is being donated to Professor Kelvin Sung’s class in the CSS department at the University of Bothell, which is expected to be used for purchasing more Kinects for students to experiment with.

The team is expecting to have a completed release version by the end of December 2011.  As they observe the end users, they’ll keep working on the next version from January to March.

Here are some thoughts from our judges:

““I really enjoyed the way this app was used for math lessons and showed how to involve the whole class. For example, students could create word problems and work them out. Just by tweaking this app I could see potentials for use in science, chemistry, health, math, physics, and biology.” Shelly Terrell




"I love that this was in math class and that included perspectives from teachers and students. This idea not only makes the concepts of math more comprehensible; it transforms the attitudes of how learners can perceive math. Love it!Angela Maiers




This is an excellent specific use of Kinect for targeting math standards.  I see a definitive connection from the learning and the technology being used! – Andrew Miller





“I became an English teacher for more than one reason. I too had an aversion to Math. This Kinect application makes learning math much more fun. I was impressed with the voice interaction as well as the ‘players’ working in pairs. This seemed to be addressing real world issues as well. I believe this application could be beneficial in using our body to uncover the meaning of graphs and measurements in all areas of life (e.g. politics, finances, etc.) Another great project. – Kelly Croy



“I see great possibilities for uses and extensions of this app! Even the simplicity of adding movement to learn about the concept of graphing suddenly adds a new dimension to Math education that would appeal to learners of various ages, in particular those who struggle with the traditional “text book” approach. “ – Lucy Barrow




Congratulations team! We’re all very excited to see how this project evolves and where it takes classrooms. Learn all about their project by accessing their information sheet here.

For those new to KinectEDucation, the mission of KinectEDucation is to provide free resources for educators to drive innovation into their classrooms. If you want to be a part of this initiative, join us; we’d love to have your voice!

Johnny Kissko | KinectEDucation | Microsoft Partner in Learning



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