gesture-based learning

 

The Whole-Person Learner: Kinecting the Gaps in Education

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

At the beginning of every year, I tell my students I have two indicators that determine our success. The first, obvious method of measurement has to be their test scores. This is a non-negotiable if I’m going to maintain my job and if they’re going to advance academically.

However, the second indicator is far more revealing of my level of influence on their growth and development. If they come back to visit me the following year – when they don’t have to, when their motive is genuinely guided by a desire to simply reconnect – this reveals that the values promoted in class – values embodying lifelong learning – were well-received. This is how I ultimately measure my influence and success as their educator.

It’s a tough balancing act. Many times, it feels that one indicator comes at the expense of the other.

On the outside looking in, it sounds fairly straightforward…but it’s not, as any student, teacher, or school administrator will attest. Even when I’d speak to student teachers at Texas Tech University, I always struggled advocating for this model.  I always knew it was the ideal model we needed, but I had a hard time answering how to effectively and consistently integrate this paradigm across all content areas.  All I could really do was point to the research and show what I now feel like was a very “canned” ways of doing things. 

But do that too long and it becomes rhetoric.

Before reading further, please watch the video below created and submitted by Kartik Aneja (download here).

and, if you have yet to see the “Kinect Effect,” watch this:

 

…I think we’re finally moving beyond the rhetoric.

The aim of KinectEDucation is to facilitate this “Connected Education” by developing, promoting, and integrating Kinect resources in classrooms. Certainly, it’s about showcasing Kinect developments, exploring resources that promote gaming in education(thanks Pat!), helping others learn how to program with ease, and integrating standards-driven activities for Kinect in education.  

Although Kinect bridges the gaps that have existed in education and can literally connect all dimensions together, it can’t be done with a device alone.   While Kinect is integral, we also need passion-driven educators like Melanie Wiscount, Gareth Ritter, Lee Kolbert, Cheryl Arnett, and Pat Yongpradit who promote content that teaches social awareness.  We need educators like Angela Maiers who are guided by the philosophy that there are no lazy children, just children who have yet to find something they’re passionate about.  Finally, we need visionary leaders like Ollie Bray to help ensure we use technology to promote development equally as much as we promote content.

At KinectEDucation, we’ve gathered an amazing  group of people who are passionate about education and are experts within their respective fields, many of whom will be formally announced soon.  But this is not about a group of people and is not limited by region. These are just the people who have expressed initial interest in contributing towards this renewed classroom model. This community is open for everyone to contribute; an open platform is needed if we’re going to do this.  Together, we can make big things happen around the world.

Everyone has a unique skillset.  If you have a similar vision and possess skills or content to contribute, share them.

 

Johnny
 

Great Lineup of Judges for First KinectEDucation Contest

Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

Well, the first KinectEDucation contest has come to a close.  From the feedback I gained, the window of time it was offered was probably a little premature as Kinect development for PCs is still in its infancy; nonetheless, transformational content emerged and relationships were established, both of which I’m excited to know will contribute towards renewed classroom models.  Once the votes are tallied, results will be announced.  The plan is to have this done no later than December 5th.

Check out the Kinect apps that emerged throughout the duration of the contest.  If you’ve got something to share, send it our way!

Even with just a handful of submissions, we’ve got a great group of qualified judges here that are going to make this fun. I’m honored to have them as trusted partners in learning!  Below are the five judges with a brief bio, picture, and related links attached.

 

profilepic_cvAngela Maiers

Angela is an active blogger, social media evangelist, and passionate advocate for bridging the gap between business and education. She is a recognized educational leader, trainer, and author. She is the owner and Chief Learning Officer at Maiers Education Services, a company emphasizing the creative use of technology and social media to advance learning, in and out of the classroom.

Blog: angelamaiers.com  | Twitter @angelamaiers

 

 

ShellyTerrellProfilePicShelly Terrell

Shelly Sanchez Terrell is an education activist, thought-provoker, and international speaker. She is the VP of Educator Outreach for Parentella and Social Media Community Manager for The Consultants-E. Additionally, she is the the co-organizer and co-creator of the acclaimed educational projects, Edchat, The Reform Symposium E-Conference and the Virtual Round Table conference. Shelly’s website with more information is http://flavors.me/shellyterrell and her twitter is @ShellTerrell.

 

andrewmillerAndrew Miller

Andrew is an international consultant specializing in educational technology, game-based learning and gamification, culturally responsive teaching and project-based learning. He is an experienced brick and mortar and online teacher who is an avid blogger for ASCD and Edutopia.

Blog: http://www.andrewkmiller.com/blog  | Twitter:@betamiller

 

 

KellyCroyKelly Croy

Kelly Croy has been speaking professionally and sharing his unique performance art with audiences since 2001. He inspires his audiences to live a life that impacts others. Performance Chalk Artist, humorist, caricature artist, cartoonist, Kelly brings his artwork to "life" using digital animation.  Kelly has been teaching and coaching for over twenty-one years and is also an Apple Distinguished Educator. Kelly’s website is http://www.kellycroy.com and his twitter is @kellycroy. Kelly also leads Wired Educator, a website dedicated to helping educators transform education with technology.

 

avatar_collectionLucy Barrow

Lucy is an eLearning Coordinator at Ballarat Grammar, a K-12 Independent School in Australia and has been working in the field of education for over 20 years. She loves exploring emerging technologies, especially virtual worlds and games in education. Lucy currently coordinates “Begonia Island”, a virtual worlds program and, in 2011, her students have been exploring educational uses for the Kinect Sensor Camera. You can find out more about her school’s eLearning Programs at http://bgselearning.posterous.com/ and Lucy’s Twitter ID is @lucybarrow.

Again, a great lineup judges who I’m honored to have participate in this contest. The winner in each category will be announced soon!

Johnny Kissko


 

Classrooms of Tomorrow, Today: Kinect Math App Available for Download

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

I’m confident that I know how I’m teaching functions in my math classroom from now on! 

“Kinect Math” is more than just evidence revealing the classrooms of tomorrow.  It’s proof that this classroom is here, today.

Created by University of Washington Bothell students and professors,  this development reveals the power of custom-developed Kinect applications for mainstream classrooms. Robin Angotti demonstrated this development at Microsoft’s Partners in Learning Global Forum in Washington D.C.  I visited with her briefly about it at the event, but this is the first time I’ve seen it in action (video below).

Jack Chang made this available for download in KinectEDucation’s Kinect Apps for Education directory.

 

Jack Chang and Jeb Palveas  were the UWB students who developed this project.  Robin Angotti developed the original idea and Kevlin Sung served as the team’s mentor throughout development.  More information about the entire team and their development is available here.

This is an excellent representation of how coupling this technology with passionate educators will facilitate a “Connected Education.”  For future developments with this software, your ideas and experiences with this software are highly valued.  If you have any feedback that you can pass along to this team, please do so.

Johnny Kissko


 

7 Questions to Consider for Evaluating Gaming in Education

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

When evaluating gaming technologies for their use in education, these 7 questions should guide you towards well-made decisions.  The trick will be in making a decision that strikes a balance amongst all your answers.

Although there are many factors to address prior to making any decisions relating to gaming in education, I consider the below 7 questions to be most important. This framework was adapted for evaluating gaming technology from my other site, K12 Mobile Learning.  The framework should be similar for evaluating the adoption of any new tool in education.

1. What provides the most learning gains and opportunities?

Regardless of how innovative your instructional strategy may be, you must be able to show results from using it. What games are going to provide the most opportunities for gains in performance? If you can’t show how the game you’re going to integrate aligns with your curriculum, scrap it and look for something new. In my opinion, this is the first and most important criterion to consider.  If this question can’t be satisfactorily addressed, start brainstorming for new ideas.

Aneesh Bhat has this website that dynamically updates great resources for gaming in the classroom. I would definitely bookmark it and refer back to it when determining what gaming technology provides the most learning gains.

2. What requires the least expenditure of student & teacher time?

Familiarity is big plus. Find something that’s not a foreign technology so that it can be easily integrated. Fortunately, one of the biggest “plusses” for gaming in the classroom is that students are familiar with the technology, creating a less steep learning curve.

3. What requires the least amount of school funds for purchase?

Obviously, affordability is a huge determining factor when deciding what software and technology to integrate in your school or classroom.  Check your balance sheet before committing to major purchases, and keep in mind that expensive technology is also a gateway opportunity for companies to try and sell you even more expensive technology to supplement their product.

For assistance with funding, check out the following resources:

ARPA-ED: providing funds for innovative instruction.

3 Ways to Get Kinects for Your Classroom: directory of grants and resources for getting Kinects for your classroom.

Fortunately, the Kinect sensor is very inexpensive relative to what it can do. Game prices are also fair. What I’m interested to see is what price custom developers will charge for their software once more players enter the field.

For a growing directory of free apps, check out KinectEDucation’s Kinect Apps for Education.

4. Is there a large community supporting it?

Remember Sega’s Dreamcast?  It had great potential, but ultimately failed because of the lack of support.  Make sure the software or hardware you’re evaluating has wide community support that will promote longevity. This also extends to the development of lesson plans.

Conclusively, try not to integrate anything that has waning support. Don’t adopt a platform that isn’t growing or at least stable in support.

5. Can scalability be supported?

Can you (as a teacher or administrator) ensure that support will be provided once your proposed technology is a standard classroom tool?  It may be easy for you to use, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be easy for everyone to use. That’s something I’ve had to learn with emerging Kinect developments. This is an evolving field and PC software development is just emerging. Give it time, though.

Simplicity should be a goal, along with a strong support team to address unforeseen issues.

6. Does it respect privacy laws specific to education?

Ensure your proposed technology doesn’t violate FERPA or any other local and federal policies.  No matter how good your technology may be, if isn’t aligned with privacy laws (or all laws for that matter), it isn’t allowable. Anything promoting violence should probably be avoided. This has been a sore spot for many administrators considering the adoption of games in the classroom. There’s an unfortunate association with video games and violence. Yes, there’s a lot of these games, but it’s not requisite for active engagement.

7. What’s the expected life cycle before necessary upgrades?

How long until the product’s next iteration is released? With Kinect technology, I don’t think that this is a major issue to really consider, but when you’re spending big money, it’s always smart to check out the market.

 

Please consider this is not an exhaustive list.  Additionally, this only reflects my personal opinions as to what qualifies as the most important criteria to observe prior to integrating gaming technology in education.

What other factors should be considered? Share your thoughts on KinectEDucation’s Facebook page.

Johnny Kissko


 

10 Excellent Resources for Kinect in Education

Saturday, October 1st, 2011

For those new to exploring the Kinect as an instructional tool, here are some outstanding resources worth exploring.  This is a non-exhaustive list and should serve to establish a framework for educators and developers considering the development or adoption of Kinect applications for education.  As Kinect gains more visibility in education, you can fully expect more resources in the future.

 

 

2011 Horizon Report: This report explores emerging technologies relevant to the field of education.  Gesture-based learning is expected to hit mainstream classrooms withinin the next two to three years. 

NCLB Reform: Standardized assessments and the oft-cited unattainable goals of NCLB have stifled innovation in some schools. If this act is reformed, I would expect innovative teaching practices to increasingly be more visible in classrooms.

John Medina’s "Brain Rules" book:  This will help you gain insight into the reality of education versus what it should look like with respect to how people most effectively learn. 

Common Core Standards: 48 states have adopted these standards, which provide a framework for teachers to know that they’ve taught what they’re expected to teach.  For anyone developing applications, pay close attention to these.  Administrators need to see that your applications are addressing standards before adopting them. 

Grants (such as ARPA-ED) from major organizations and federal sources are supportive of innovative instruction.

Microsoft development of Kinect classroom activities: for pundits, this clearly reveals that (1) it’s being marketed as an educational device and (2) there’s high value and definite curricular relevancy with Kinect commercial titles.   I highly recommend checking these activities out to establish a frame of reference for just how powerful Kinect can serve as a teaching and learning tool.

  Kinect pilot programs and custom development:  I recently visited with Radu Burducea, Microsoft Director of US Education, about Kinect pilot programs taking place across US schools.  Right now, ten pilots are live nationally and the K-12 Kinect product launch is on track to be released in October 2011.  Explore noncommercial development of Kinect education applications in KinectEDucation’s Kinect Apps for Education directory.  Most of these were built by an emerging community of developers as part of a contest.

  Exploring the possibilities: this video explores the value of Kinect in learning environments.  It was developed in April of 2011; since then, many new developments have emerged.  Check out these amazing Kinect developments for further ideas. 

Channel 9’s Coding for Fun: Anyone looking for project ideas and source code for Kinect projects should bookmark this excellent resource. 

 

What’s most remarkable to me is how quickly this has all developed.  Less than one year ago, Kinect had yet to be released. We’re just beginning to witness how transformational this technology will be for education.  My hope is that reformers advocating for change realize that many of the limitations imposed on classrooms (understandably out of necessity to maintain structure) can potentially be minimized with this device. 


 

Kinect for Learning: Enhancing Therapy with Analytics

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

Kinect for Learning Idea

While this submitted idea comes from a source beyond a K12 classroom, it’s entirely relevant because of its integration of Kinect to enhance learning.

Dawn Sanders is a medical school massage owner in Albuquerque, New Mexico and is looking for a programmer who can help her assess, monitor, and create a warning system for the body mechanics of a massage therapist.  Generally, the profession struggles to help students and graduates apply correct leverage without hurting or damaging joints. 

For those like myself who are unfamiliar with medical massage, Dawn explains it as the application of evidence-informed massage therapy to the human body that integrates knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and pathology.  Emphasis is on the whole-person and isn’t isolated to one dimension. 

To help Dawn, contact me for more information or visit Dawn’s website (linked above) and contact her directly. 


 

Kinect Apps For Education: What’s In Your Wishlist?

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

The self-sponsored Kinect in Education Contest is generating interest from hobbyists and programmers that come from diverse backgrounds.  While outstanding at what they do, some have minimal exposure to the needs of the 21st century educator and are asking what teachers would benefit most from.  The feedback I can provide is limited to my own experiences, so I wanted to tap into the bank of knowledge from educators globally to give deeper understanding.

If you could create a “wishlist” of ways to use custom-developed Kinect applications in your classroom, what do you most need or want?   Provide your input below and please be as descriptive as possible.

To get an idea of what’s been submitted so far, check out KinectEDucation’s Kinect Apps for Education directory.

 

Your Name

Your Email Address

What are your ideas and / or needs?

Thank you for your input!


 

Kinect in Education: Innovate by Making Little Bets

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

“Discovery doesn’t happen in a vacuum, which is why doing things, however imperfectly at first, opens us up creatively.” – Peter Sims, Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries

In the book Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries, author Peter Sims proposes that by making several “little bets” within our respective careers, we will eventually discover and develop ideas that are both achievable and affordable to implement in our workplace.  Rather than outright rejecting typical organizational models of hierarchy, linear systems, and extreme efficiency, we can spend a little time to take small ideas and experiment with them to make big discoveries and change that are fitting.

In most classrooms, there’s a strong emphasis on teaching facts and minimizing errors.  Problem solving is approached from the perspective of getting the right answer; after all, assessment scores determine teacher effectiveness and we have to play the game. The problem with this approach is that these elaborate and predetermined procedures stifle opportunities to experiment and generate new ideas to enhance and reform teaching and learning. 

The most effective models of learning are as timeless as our ancestry.  Learning doesn’t happen at predetermined times.  Learning doesn’t happen at fixed locations; in fact, studies reveal that most learning happens in informal education environments.  While we have an argument for reform, we still struggle with innovation. We’re afraid of “messing up.” Quite simply, we don’t have a lot of time to mess things up.

But, it’s better to fix problems than prevent errors. Over time, innovative practices are iterated and refined where they then become valuable assets to the classroom. For example, in my third year of teaching, I piloted a web-based RTI program in my class that I developed. It linked results from student assessment data to resources (videos, practice problems, notes, etc.) relevant to the standards attached to each problem. Students would then individually work on their specific areas of need; it was dynamic, accessible, and highly targeted.

In a nutshell, here’s what happened: students who were going to already do well did that much better, but there was no difference in the scores for students whose scores were already low. I didn’t adequately address the lack of the motivation from these students. With the next iteration, I tweaked the software and addressed classroom management factors to increase motivation. Assessment scores for this population improved the following year.

Here’s another example: at one point in time, the ballpoint pen was an unwelcomed tool in the classroom.  Students had used pencils for so long; why use a pen? For one, they’d forget how to sharpen pencils; secondly, what would they do when they ran out of ink?  It took people willing to make “little bets” for pens to become acceptable artifacts in the classroom. 

How can you make these “little bets” to welcome innovation? Here are six fundamentals that the author proposes:

  • Experiment: Make trial and error a regular part of your classroom practice.
  • Play: When new ideas are emerging, you may too quickly judge it to be ineffective. Play quiets this inhibition and keeps good ideas flowing.
  • Immerse: Look beyond the textbooks for ideas on new things. What’s going on in industry that you could bring to the classroom? Gather ideas from sources outside education.
  • Define: Throughout the implementation process, use new insights that define problems and needs before solving them. You may figure out a solution to a problem that you weren’t initially trying to solve.
  • Reorient: Be flexible and make necessary changes.
  • Iterate: Repeat, refine, and keep testing

Follow this path of discovery before believing your ideas have no place in the classroom.  Like the ballpoint pen, we need pioneers and advocates for new tools and models of learning.

For further reflection, check out the video below that captivates the essence of making “little bets.”


 

Kinect for Learning Analytics and RTI

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

With Kinect, advanced learning analytics within most classrooms is a definite possibility; properly designed and integrated, data collection can move far beyond just gathering assessment data.

Imagine a swivel holding multiple Kinects and projectors mounted from a classroom ceiling. With Kinect’s player recognition capabilities, every individual’s participation throughout a lesson can be assessed by interpreting individual’s gestures.  Then, this data can be assessed and stored to provide the teacher objective feedback regarding students’ facial cues and body language relevant to learning.

Assuredly, interpreting body language isn’t simple; much has to be considered before making broad generalizations. However, we can’t deny that a large percentage of communication is nonverbal; therefore, if an instructor has access to long-term data that reveals specific behavioral trends, direct intervention can be timely, direct, and accurate. Assuredly, this could serve as an outstanding RTI tool.

I certainly see a place for this in many learning environments, but keep in mind that this is 100% speculation on my part.

Check out this video below of Microsoft’s Lightspace to gain perspective and a glimpse of how this technology may apply to classrooms.


 

Kinect in Education: Good-Bye, Old School

Monday, September 19th, 2011

School community, curriculum and instruction, and administrative tasks/leadership represent the framework of most schools.  Periodically throughout the year, school leaders and education practitioners reflect on best practices and build their effectiveness in each domain by adding or modifying their game plans respective to each three.  While well-intended and making great strides, the scope of change within each domain is usually isolated and there simply isn’t enough time make everything on the list a reality.  But on occasion, we do find something capable of being leveraged for gain in all three domains.  I believe the Kinect will serve as an instrument of mass appeal and change for teachers, administrators, students, and parents.  

The videos and examples below serve as a testimony to how Kinect technology will be a game-changer in the field of education. For more examples, visit 9 Incredible Developments for Kinect in Education.

 

Commercial Software & Games

Software that makes it to the shelves has been tested to work, is easy to use, and instruction can be creatively adapted to the game.  This is an exciting area of development; more details and links to come, soon. 

Microsoft’s South Africa team integrating Kinect in classrooms

“No more monologue by the teacher aimed at the students who don’t retain half of what they hear. No more boredom in the classroom… “Language is no longer the barrier; physical impairment is no longer a shortcoming. Interactive schooling is the way of the future.”

Avatar Kinect in Action

Kinect Physics Interaction Demo

School walls virtually become nonexistent with software like this; this has definite implications across all grade-levels and content areas. 

Robotics

From Microsoft Robotics Website: “There has been tremendous excitement with Microsoft Kinect within the robotics space signaling the potential opportunities that exist in transforming robots to low-cost mainstream consumer devices. RDS4 beta, with support from the Kinect sensor, aims to make it easier for developers to build applications, including those directed at personal robotics and consumer scenarios, both in hardware and in simulation.”

The download link and more information about the beta version of Robotics Developer Studio can be found on Microsoft Robotics’ website.

Anatomy & Science

Clearly, this has implications in the medical industry.  Why not bring it to the classroom to immerse kids pursuing the medical field?

 

 

Immersive “Mobile” Learning

Taking gesture-based learning on-the-go is tangible with this solution:

 

Interactive Lighting – Cut Down on Electricity Costs

This solution would cut down on unnecessary electrical costs.  Many schools already have motion-sensing switches, but this solution would work well for those that don’t and for new construction.

 

 

Multi-Touch Screen

A $149 touchscreen? 

 

Presentations Evolved

I envision software like this being used to transform presentations into interactive teaching and learning experiences.

 

 

Nuvixa StagePresence

If you’re already making podcasts for your students, why leverage your time by recording video of yourself?  Many kids are visual learners and this would tap into their style of learning.  This doesn’t work like your standard webcam; Nuvixa StagePresence actually replaces your physical background and augments you into your presentation.   Check out Nuvixa’s website for more information and a download link. This is my video demonstration:

 

Community of Kinect Apps for Education

KinectEDucation is sponsoring a contest that will award two $500 prizes for Kinect developments and videos demonstrating Kinect use in their learning environment.  A few contributed developments can be found in the links below. Check out the Kinect Apps for Education downloads and forums to see what’s new.

 

Music as Body Motion by Danny Cortes

Quiz Generator by Ray Chambers

Keyboard Piano also by Ray Chambers


 

 
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