kinect for learning

 

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.  

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10 Future Developments with Kinect in Education

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

The future of Kinect, in my opinion, targets education reform for many reasons.  I am not a zealot for technology. I am, however, passionate about introducing new, reformed models of learning to schools and believe that certain tools can serve to facilitate this higher purpose.

In The Singularity Is Near, author Ray Kurzweil discusses seven stages in the life cycle of all technology.  I used this cycle to reflect on the current state of Kinect in schools.  While Kinect is used by most for gaming, using the device to support learning in schools is a fairly new concept finally taking root.  I believe integrating Kinect to support learning is in the third stage of Kurzweil’s discussed cycle, where a community of innovators and tinkerers build upon the original invention and thus enable the invention to mature and flourish.

Adoption of any breakthrough idea, method, tool, or technique requires detaching from conventional thinking and accepting new paradigms.  Where will these new paradigms, innovators, tinkerers and R & D lead us?  It’s very early to tell, but we can make predictions by analyzing current trends in both industry and education.  In addition to games, here are 10 emerging developments I predict – some concrete, some abstract – that I feel have serious implications in K12 learning environments:

 

1.  New Data Tracking Methods

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.  Kinect being used in this capacity will serve as an excellent RTI tool.  If you could analyze students’ body language over the duration of a specific time period, you would have hard data revealing levels of interest and potential behavioral issues. 

Of course, interpreting body language isn’t easy; even human experts mess up when making observations.  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.

So, imagine the framework of Georgia Tech’s sign language recognition software being used for additional purposes.

 

 

2.  Mobile Device Integration

As mobile devices proliferate throughout schools, this will be a great way to engage all students while leveraging accessible technology.  One of the current limitations with Kinect is that one sensor can track only two students at a time.  While it may not be realistic or feasible to integrate multiple Kinects in one classroom, integrating mobile devices with Kinect will be a great way to get everyone engaged.  This video below shows the early stages of Kinect being integrated with a Windows 7 phone. 

 

3.  Instructional Software

Useful classroom software for Kinect need not be complex to be transformational.  Those seeking to maintain traditional classroom structure will find Kinect useful as an instructional tool, much like a wireless writing tablet.  There isn’t much need to alter your classroom model for this to work.  As a basic illustration, imagine using the application below to throw vocabulary words, equations, or historical facts onto the wall.

4.  Affordable “Touch Screens”

I believe that this development could be the catalyst that delivers Kinects to most mainstream classrooms because it’s accomplishing what similar technology does at a fraction of the price.  In other words, Kinect amplifies the benefits and use of technology you were already going to purchase. 

Below is a stunning new development that reveals this development in practice:

 

 

5.  Kinect Accessories

Within classrooms, Kinect accessories may be necessary additions for proper functioning of the device in a restricted environment.  Notable accessories include:

Nyko Zoom for Kinect: a lens attachment that  allows players to stand about 40 percent closer to the Kinect. 

Kinect Floor Stand: adevice allows the Kinect camera to be placed in different locations around the room. 

Kinect Wall Mount: allows Kinect to be mounted to a wall in a static location.

Kinect swivel mount:  I haven’t seen this yet, but I hope it’s being developed.  When (and if) multiple Kinects are supported on one computing device, there will be a market for this.  This could suspend from the ceiling, much like many projectors do.

 

6.  Support for Multiple Kinects

The obvious need for this will to track multiple students at one time.  While technically possible, I haven’t seen many applying this in a practical setting…yet.  The video below shows this development shifting from theory to practice.

 

7.  Gesture-Based Learning and Game-Based Learning Consultants

As this market grows, so will the need for people who have exposure to this dimension of learning.  The great news is that there will be plenty of success out there for many to enjoy.  If you’re one of them or want to be one of them, now is a great time to make yourself stand out.

Microsoft has recently launched a Kinect for education Facebook page where you can gain great perspective from educators and Kinect experts around the globe.  If you have questions about how to use the Kinect in your learning environment, this is a great place to gain guidance from people immersed in the field.  It has been an honor to serve on this amazing team that’s pioneering a new dimension to learning. 

 

8.  Repositories for Custom Development

As the Kinect education community proliferates, indie developments showcasing this technology will also increase.  Check out KinectEDucation’s Kinect apps for education to see what the community has already contributed.  There’s currently a contest going on promoting the custom development of such applications (ends November 30th).

 

9.  Lesson Plan and Activity Development

When new devices emerge for classrooms, so does the need for practical examples of them being used in a real-world setting.  Great news – Microsoft is developing Kinect classroom activities and is publicly providing them for free.  More activities are continually being added to this excellent bank of resources. 

If you’re using Kinect in your classroom and have ideas, activities, or lessons you’d like to contribute, feel free to share them in the KinectEDucation forums.   

 

10.  Continual Paradigm Shifts

Will the Kinect have enough influence to transform learning environments around the world into true 21st century classrooms? If we evaluate trends, growing research, learning theory, and the market, most findings indicate that the Kinect may very well become the new technology centerpiece in schools. The indie development scene is active and many of the basic applications designed already have potential in classrooms around the world. Additionally, policies and legislature are trending to support innovation in schools.  All of these factors will influence school’s acceptance of new modalities of thinking about how we can educate our children.

 

What are your ideas?  Feel free to contribute them publicly or contact me

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Kinect Reflections After 30 Days by Cheryl Arnett

Sunday, October 9th, 2011

Cheryl Arnett

is an elementary teacher from Craig, Colorado.  In 2010, she was a winner in Microsoft’s US Partner in Learning event. I had the opportunity to meet Cheryl this past summer and have maintained contact with her through an initiative we are working on together with to develop Kinect activities.  An inspiration for all, here are recent reflections Cheryl sent about integrating Kinect in her classroom.

Tomorrow will be our 30th day of school. My first graders are engaged in learning and growing. One of the highlights so far has been the inclusion of Xbox 360 Kinect games in our lessons. The children loved that from the minute they saw it, but, for me, it has been a learning process for the teacher. Using new technology tools in the classroom involves extra time and thought during implementation. The payoffs, however, can be quite rewarding. That has been the case with using Kinect.

Equipped with the TV, Xbox360, Kinect sensor, and a wide selection of games, I began the year with many ideas and expectations for inspiring learning in my students. Two obstacles presented themselves right away. The first was, and always is in the classroom, time. The second was how to manage 21 students and one gaming system. Loving a challenge, I jumped in and began to experiment.

The time issue dissolved as I moved past the need to use the games just because they were there. When any technology tool becomes a natural part of the learning process (no different than using a pencil and paper), it becomes powerful and incorporated where it will do the most good. Rather than planning times for Kinect, I am now considering the wide variety of possibilities (check out the growing list of ideas from Kinect in Education) to enhance our lessons. As with all learning tools, you start with the learning objective, then select the methods, tools, and materials that best achieve the desired results. Used in that way, Xbox 360 Kinect, or any video gaming system can become a part of learning without creating a time problem.

Management is another common issue in the classroom. Engagement has never been a problem as my students are mesmerized by the Kinect games. I could tell right away that if I could direct their enthusiasm, we were sitting on a gold mine of learning possibilities. The difficulty was that only one student could actually "play" the game at a time. The other students were cheering and enjoying the process, but there was not enough active learning participation to suit me. The game Body and Brain Connections helped me solve the problem. That particular game is full of activities that reinforce math concepts I teach. We are working on addition to 10 and learning a variety of ways to make each number. One game is called Perfect Tens (facts for 10 are an important skill to master). The player has to use his or her hands to mark two numbers with a sum of 10 before the timer runs out. We discovered that the Kinect sensor focuses in on a narrow enough area, that while one student was actually controlling the game, all the other students could participate from behind and beside the player. The results were delightful and obviously productive:

 

I added to the lesson, recording sheets for each child to keep track of his or her score. The children can see their own growth and are motivated to improve their score as in any video game setting. They are learning the facts for 10 more quickly than I could have imagined and they think they are playing!! (The scores will soon become another lesson as we use arrow cards to learn about place value and how to read big numbers.)

Of course, learning the facts for 10 is just one of the many skills we will inspire with our gaming system. The possibilities are endless. Patience is the key. Rather than forcing the games into lessons, I will find the natural applications as they arise. Group participation is the next key as managing the use of the tool becomes no different than passing out paper for spelling practice.

The final advantage and payoff for using Kinect in the classroom is the addition of activity to stimulate both the body and the brain! The first brain rule (Brain Rules by John Medina) is that exercise boosts brain power. Children naturally want to move so why not channel that movement into the learning process! Everyone wins!

After just 30 days of learning with Xbox 360 Kinect, I am convinced that it holds tremendous potential for education. A little time spent working out the bugs and exploring the possibilities will reap great benefits for children!

 
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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. 

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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. 

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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!

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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.”

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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.

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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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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

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