kinect for education


Welcome, Cheryl Arnett, to KinectEducation! Wife, Grandmother, World-Class Educator

Monday, December 19th, 2011

It makes no difference where you’re from; Cheryl Arnett embodies the attributes of your ideal, world-class elementary teacher. An inspiration for all, her nineteen years of teaching experience at Sunset Elementary in Craig, Colorado qualify her as one of the world’s best.

In case an award is needed to backup her credentials, she has those, too.

Cheryl’s passion and abilities as an educator revealed themselves when she and her partner from Beirut, Lebanon won two awards at Microsoft’s 2010 Innovative Educator Forum. Her ability to relate to people on a personal level helped establish partnerships with classrooms around the world, earning her the ePals Ambassador award in 2010. Cheryl was also a coach in Microsoft’s 2011 Partners in Learning Global Forum in Washington, DC.

Projects Cheryl is currently working on? Cheryl is also a member of Microsoft’s amazing Kinect in Education team and spent this last semester using the Kinect in her classroom while developing outstanding Kinect activities. Cheryl also serves as an Advisory Board Member on the Bridges of Peace and Hope, where people work “together to promote respect, understanding, and communication” around the world.

On a personal level, Cheryl has served as a great source of inspiration for me. As KinectEducation has evolved, it became clear that what was originally anticipated and sought after was becoming reality.  We’re doing something much, much bigger than ourselves here, and Cheryl shares this same vision. We need more people like Cheryl on board to carry this out effectively.

Most importantly, Cheryl is a wife, mother, and grandmother. Cheryl would never say it about herself, but she’s kind of a big deal. 🙂

Welcome, Cheryl Arnett, to KinectEducation!

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 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



Welcome, Angela Maiers! Educational Leader, Author, Speaker, Social Media Evangelist

Monday, December 12th, 2011

Welcome Angela Maiers to KinectEDucation as our newest team member!

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.  Angela currently travels around the world with a simple, two-worded message that she powerfully delivers to audiences of all ages and backgrounds: You Matter. This simple, two-worded message of revealing our value as human beings is changing the world.

It’s very exciting to have Angela as a member of this team for many reasons.  One reason is that teaching from the whole-person paradigm of learning means that we focus on development equally as much as content and Angela’s “You Matter” initiative is perfectly aligned with the ultimate goal of KinectEDucation – developing learners by providing a “Connected Education.” While bringing a strong social media presence to reach large audiences globally, Angela also provides a vast network of knowledge and connections to make sure things run smoothly here.

Angela Maiers (left) with Johnny Kissko at Microsoft’s 2011 Global Partners in Learning Event

The most important reason Angela and other members of this team are valued and were selected is that we are all 100% value-driven.  Our own unique experiences have established a common understanding that  relationships built upon complete trust is imperative to take ideas forth.  Angela walks the walk and then goes the extra mile.

Angela’s passion for education is contagious, as anyone who knows her will confirm; her TED Talk captivates her very being and what she’s all about.  When KinectEDucation switches to its new interface with more content, Angela will have a section designated specifically for her.

Glad to have you, Angela!




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



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.




When Fish Fly Project: Microsoft’s Global PIL Event

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

I am in Washington D.C. with the honor of participating in Microsoft’s Global Partner in Learning event. I am joined with Doug Bergman, Lou Zulli, Margaret Noble, and Donna Thomas to showcase an amazing project titled “When Fish Fly” that Doug and Lou’s computer science students developed using the Kinect SDK.

This great development will be uploaded to KinectEDucation’s Kinect apps for education public directory to share with the world soon. For now, it is publicly accessible here. The folder titled “Final Build” contains the executable file and all the code. The “WFF Installs” contains just the code and files required to build the executable.

This project was developed in a quick eight weeks and is a testimony to the talent these students possess and, from a more global perspective, an emerging dimension of learning where learners literally interact with relevant content.

If you have an opportunity, download When Fish Fly and share your pictures on Twitter with event members here! The hashtag for this event is #PlLGF.  



The Kinect Effect – An Education Revolution

Monday, October 31st, 2011

Wow.  Sometimes, words alone won’t do justice.The societal impact of Kinect will be huge; this Microsoft video encapsulates what the “Kinect Effect” will be in education and beyond.  What’s most exciting is that this is just the beginning.




Become a Blogger for KinectEDucation

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

In April of 2011, I sent out a call for anyone interested in blogging for KinectEDucation to submit a request. I think the call was too early because the Kinect had been out for a short amount of time, and as an educator, I’m also aware that integrating new ideas usually happens at the beginning of a school year.

Over the last two weeks, I’ve visited with a few people who have expressed interest in blogging for the site.  As such, I’m opening up the form again for those interested in blogging for KinectEDucation to submit a request through this blogger request form.  This is open to developers, teachers, administrators, parents, students, and anyone else with an interest in education.  Location is not a factor; in fact, international input is a primary objective of this.

Selections are limited to those with the most relevant experience in some direct capacity (writing, developing, implementing, etc.).  If you have any questions, please contact me




Building Capacity for Renewed Perspectives

Sunday, October 2nd, 2011

Many teacher preparation programs approach education from a perspective that incoming educators are already familiar with. Even with college courses that teach modern pedagogical approaches, sixteen years of schooling have ordained many educators into teaching philosophies that reflect the practices of their former teachers. “New” teaching strategies are foreign and put us into a realm of perceived unknowns.

Ironically, some of these “new” and foreign teaching strategies – such as promoting movement for retention, incorporating mobile devices for academic gain, and taking risks for prosperity – tap into the very core of who we are as human beings. Movement, mobility, and risk-taking are three assets that are hard-wired into us and should be intuitive. We need to align our pedagogical philosophies with the whole-person paradigm of learning.

Easier said than done, I know. Given the constraints we’re operating within, what can we do to build our capacity for tapping into this whole-person paradigm?

We can make straight row desks the exception by creating physical learning environments.

We can chunk learning , promote activity, and alternate routines to maintain audience participation and active brains.

We can incorporate immersive learning with standards-driven relevancy.

We can make progress through trial and error and informed risk-taking.

We can move beyond our content and gain perspective of the whole-person paradigm to promote further success.

Assuredly, the problems facing education won’t be fixed with a five-point bulleted list. However, we can be proactive by creating a new trail for others to follow.



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