kinect contests


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



KinectEducation’s “What Will You Create” Contest Winner for Best Video

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

The votes have been submitted and the results are in! Congratulations to Kartik Aneja for his winning video submission, Nayi Disha: A New Direction, in KinectEDucation’s first contest! Kartik now has the opportunity to decide what school to donate $500 to, which he has as revealed below (outstanding story).

If this is your first time to KinectEducation, here’s a quick background of how things got started.

It all began in April of 2011 when a call to action from KinectEducation was put out to the Kinect development community: what will you create for education? The original idea along with the KinectEducation website were then taken to Seattle, WA to present at Microsoft’s US Partners in Learning event, where it caught up with the minds of Doug Bergman, Lou Zulli, and Margaret Noble and resulted in a first-place winning project at Microsoft’s Global Forum that integrated multiple layers of collaboration and KinectEducation as a resource for the world to download, upload, and modify their contributions to the project’s evolution.

Kartik Aneja responded by creating this; here’s his story.


Kartik has expressed how much this win means to him. From his story, video, and downloadable app, you gain perspective of how coupling people passionate about education with transformational technology can truly renew many of today’s classrooms. 

While this victory for Kartik is a reflection of his hard work and dedication, it’s a victory that, in my opinion, reveals key elements of the most genuine 21st century classroom I’ve seen yet:

Passionate teachers tackling real-world issues while delivering the whole-person learning experience.  Students are literally immersed in their content because the technology is intuitive and so seamlessly integrated.  It simply disappears while facilitating something that would otherwise be unattainable.

This next part of Kartik’s story makes me tremendously honored to be associated with not just his project, but Kartik as an individual.

The region Kartik resides in has very active community service programs. During his junior and senior year of high school, his school sent him to the National Association for the Blind twice every week. His experiences there led him to make the decision that the $500 contest money will be donated to his high school to provide Kinect cameras so that students can start exploring ways to use the Kinect sensor to help people with such disabilities. Upon reading his story, an inspired anonymous donor has also committed to giving the orphanage where he tested the app $250 to serve their needs as well.

I told Kartik I wish more could be provided to promote his cause. He expressed that while this money may seem like a small amount, the conversion rate in India will make the money serve wonders.

Here are some thoughts from our judges about Nayi Disha:

“This was my favorite video because it really showed how this helped the children have fun with the apps and learn about the world around them. This was applied to real world learning. I could see these two apps [referencing the games within Nayi Disha] being used in other areas as well with different types of objects instead of the trash and flies. I also like that the children have the music incentive because students react well to incentives and this is really at the heart of game based education where achieving certain levels means receiving an award. -“ Shelly Terrell


"This video captured me the moment it started and held my attention, mind, and heart the entire time. Not only was the message powerful, it brought an entirely new dimension to gaming; social good.  Brilliant!" – Angela Maiers





After watching the video, Andrew Miller also expressed how engaging he found the application to be.  Similar sentiment was captivated by judges Kelly Croy and Lucy Barrow:





“I really enjoyed this application! What a unique and powerful exploration of Kinect in education. I was very impressed with the variety of programming, the authentic purpose, and immediate benefits of this project. The programming could be applied to different social messages from trash to drugs, and even classroom subjects…Very touching project, well done.” – Kelly Croy




“This app is directly relevant to the students’ situations yet could easily be used successfully by students in other locations. It illustrates perfectly the value of the Kinect Sensor Camera, a relatively inexpensive piece of technology that can be used in so many engaging ways!” – Lucy Barrow




This has been a very fulfilling experience and I am honored that we could get Kartik’s message out. Kartik has also agreed in principle to continue contributing his developments (keeping his rights to the intellectually property, of course) to KinectEducation to help deliver a “connected education” for schools around the world.

Congratulations Kartik!  You may also find more of Kartik’s projects on his YouTube channel and other downloads in our emerging educational apps directory. If you have thoughts you’d like to send Kartik to further promote his vision and cause, we’ll pass it on or you can share your thoughts on KinectEducation’s Facebook page.

Contest results for “best app” will be announced soon. Meanwhile, the question still remains: what will you create?


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. 


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



Kinect Contest Entry #3: Music as Body Motion

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

Danny Cortes’ has entered his “Music as Body Motion” for the KinectEDucation contest.  A video of his work in action is below; Danny’s app can be downloaded from the Kinect Apps for Education directory and Danny’s website.

This is amazing work and is representative of what talented people can do to produce game-changing applications for education.  Keep Danny on your radar for future developments!

To discuss Danny’s development and other ideas for development, check out the forums



Kinect in Education Contest: What Will You Create?

Thursday, September 8th, 2011


With Kinect, classroom instruction can be adapted to promote the well-being of our children, as opposed to conditioning students to unnecessary classroom routines.  While the vision for such a classroom exists, roadblocks also exist.  Primarily, these hindrances includes (1) relevant classroom software and (2) school technology infrastructure, such as the need to have Windows 7 to run the Kinect SDK and school reluctance to purchase Xbox’s for classrooms.  Although the Kinect community can’t write school purchase orders for new technology, we can create relevant Kinect software that reveals the need. 

Starting on September 9th and running through November 30th, KinectEDucation is hosting a competition to promote the advancement of education through game-based and active learning. 

Two separate awards are being given:


$500 for the most innovative and adaptable classroom software uploaded to the Kinect Apps for Education directory.  “Adaptable” means that your software can be integrated in multiple content areas.  For example, the Shapes Game that is included with the SDK could be adapted for math classrooms to “grab the factors of five”; for an English classroom, “grab all the conjugates.”  The developments don’t have to be complex; in fact, the easier it is to execute, the better.

$500 for the “best” in-class video showcasing a Kinect classroom experience in the KinectEDucation Classroom Showcase. The “best” video reveals a classroom actively engaged in your content with Kinect and relevant software.  Advanced video editing skills are not required or needed.

You may participate in both contests if you’d like.  Additionally, winners will receive a write-up on KinectEDucation featuring them and their work. 


Here are the caveats and further details:


Software must be developed with the Kinect SDK and (2) uploaded as a zip file that contains at least an executable file and a “how-to” of some sort.

The winners must designate the cash awards to a classroom or school that is considered a public or private institution (K-12 or higher ed).  If you’re an educator or student, you certainly have the option to designate this to your own classroom. 

All participants must provide at least one additional idea for using the Kinect in classrooms in the KinectEDucation Educator’s Wishlist forum. Edit: Spam issues prevented legitimate registrations and there was additional difficulty in the forums; therefore, this was ruled to be an excessive obstacle to attaining the objective of the contest and therefore was omitted criterion for all submissions in final judging.

All artifacts must be classroom appropriate. 

A panel of judges consisting of educators from multiple content areas will select the winners.  Winners will be announced no later than December 5th. 

While it’s not required, it’s suggested that you include the source code to promote further development. 

 Because of major spam concerns, separate login credentials are required for the Kinect Education Forums and Kinect Apps for Education.


In my opinion, the non-monetary gains outweigh any potential financial incentive.  As both an educator and a person advocating for renewed paradigms, please trust me when I say that many school administrators simply aren’t aware of the opportunities that lie ahead.  Your contributions would reveal to decision-makers the ability to integrate meaningful movement in classrooms, which promotes memory retention and increases academic gain.  So, even if you don’t win an award, you could heavily influence the future direction of education.

Please contact me if you have any questions.  If you’re new to KinectEDucation, check out the video below revealing how the field of education would benefit from integrating the Kinect.





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