Cheryl Arnettis 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!
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.
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.
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.
Thank you for your input!
“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:
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.”
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
Clearly, this has implications in the medical industry. Why not bring it to the classroom to immerse kids pursuing the medical field?
Taking gesture-based learning on-the-go is tangible with this solution:
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.
A $149 touchscreen?
I envision software like this being used to transform presentations into interactive teaching and learning experiences.
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:
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.
Keyboard Piano also by Ray Chambers
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.
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.
$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.————————————————————————-
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.
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.
The future of learning is visual. Check out this video from Eon Reality, which demonstrates the potential of using gestures and augmented reality in education: