kinect in education


Kinect Paint: Hand Painting Without the Mess

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

This application, Kinect Paint, is a lot of fun to play around with. Although developments are still early, this undoubtedly has definite implications in elementary classrooms and is further evidence that the Kinect development community is growing strong.

As this Kinect community grows, the need for accessible downloads is warranted. This is provided a single executable file, making it easier for everyone to access. Most developments thus far have required you to compile source code, which can be tedious and perplexing. That being considered, make sure you read the instructions from the provider’s site in order to get this to work, because you will need to download the Kinect SDK first. If that sounds like too much legwork, I will tell you that it is beginning to become much easier to utilize these developments.

This application is available for download at and is also listed in the Kinect Apps for Education directory at Using the Kinect and a PC, you can draw using coordinated hand movements.

Check out my video demonstration below. I may be super-nerd for filming myself like this; if I am, oh well. It’s far too cool not to share.



Direct video link



9 Incredible Developments for Kinect in Education

Monday, July 11th, 2011

For those of us raised in typical school settings, the memory of straight-row desks with little activity is all too familiar.  As we’re all aware, the Kinect has the potential to evolve classrooms beyond this 18th century model of learning to a structure that’s aligned with brain research and the benefits of active learning.

With the release of the noncommercial Kinect SDK, several new Kinect applications are emerging.  These range from simple apps (such as creating “3D air drawings”) to more complex applications (such as sign language recognition).  Regardless, every single one of these developments has the potential to drastically enhance teaching and learning in all learning environments. 

Here are nine key developments that reveal the educational value of Kinect in education.   



Exercising to Learn: Kinect in Education

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

I’m reading Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School by John Medina. This book explores brain research and how this plays into who we are as human beings. Some key points that stuck out to me from this book so far:

– Our evolutionary ancestors walked up to twelve miles per day.

– Our brains and bodies are not built for idling in desks and cubicles for eight hours per day.

– Our brains developed not while we were lounging around, but while we were moving.

– Kids pay better attention to their subjects when they’ve been active; they’re less likely to be disruptive in terms of their classroom behavior when they’re active. They have higher self-esteem, less depression, and less anxiety, all of which can impair academic performance and attention span.

– A lifetime of exercise can result in large gains in cognitive performance, compared with those who are sedentary.

Source: Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School

Few would argue against these key points; the benefits of exercise can also be further validated by our own experiences. The question that’s been troubling education for so long is “how can we effectively integrate movement in typical classrooms with all the red tape that exists?”

I believe the Kinect will offer the solution that allows all education stakeholders (parents, teachers, administrators, lawmakers, students, etc.) to share harmony with their desires, goals and agendas. I also believe that Microsoft’s releasing of the noncommercial SDK for Kinect provides further evidence that Kinect development for PC is being embraced, encouraged, and will eventually lead towards the evolution of classrooms to the 21st century model we’ve been working to attain for quite some time.

Check out the emerging Kinect Apps for Education; feel free to upload your own creations and to download the developments of others!



5 Benefits of Using Kinect in Education

Saturday, July 2nd, 2011

It may be early to see Kinect in many classrooms, but it’s becoming more evident that Kinect is being supported as an effective learning tool.

Below are five major contributions the Kinect will offer education. Feel free to contribute by adding your own thoughts on the KinectEDucation Facebook page or in the community forums.



1. Facilitate Research-Supported Learning

Active learning increases academic performance. For many classroom teachers, the most challenging question has been “how.” There are so many constraints and parameters that prevent active learning from becoming a consistent classroom experience. It’s my belief that Kinect can overcome the parameters isolating active learning from classrooms. Furthermore, The Horizon Report reveals that gesture-based learning is an upcoming trend that will be integrated in the field of education over the next few years.

Conclusively, gesture-based learning facilitates active learning; Kinect is a consumer-friendly tool providing the gesture-based experience.

2. Seamlessly Integrate Technology

The irony of technology integration is that it’s most effective when it “disappears,” meaning that users are so engaged in the content that reflecting on the actual technology is minimal. For instance, the Wii offers a great active experience, but users are required to be constantly aware of the device and follow (at times) non-intuitive rules. Kinect is seamless; as long as the software is well-programmed, user awareness of the device is rare.

3. Embrace Cultural Diversity

Combining a virtual lobby with full facial and body tracking, users can globally connect with others from around the globe. Students can control their avatars in augmented learning environments with other students from anywhere in the world.. Since the device is cheap, this excludes no population. For instance, Microsoft is piloting Kinect in Africa, a sure sign this device can reach learners from all demographics and socioeconomic statuses.

Check out the Avatar Kinect trailer below, which is expected to be released in July 2011:

4. Establish Content Relevancy

It would be ideal if every classroom could have an authentic lab to further explore content, but it would also be naïve to think this is feasible. Virtual labs are great, especially in schools that may not be able to provide “real” labs. However, augmented labs that integrate gestures and Kinect will bridge the gap between virtual labs and true-to-life labs.

5. Explore New Environments

One moment, you may be exploring the universe; the next moment, exploring the human body. All of this can be done within a standard classroom. Pundits will argue that this is far-fetched. I understand their angle and arguments; after all, this new technology has had little classroom exposure. But when we evaluate learning research, instructional needs, and the relatively inexpensive price for Kinect, it becomes further evident that this technology will be a 21st century tool to facilitate instruction.

Check out the Kinect Apps for Education, where users can download and submit their own Kinect developments. Want to start creating your own Kinect software? Scope out the Teacher’s Guide for Kinect Development for beginner-level programming. Anyone can contribute; as you grow more advanced, consider downloading the Kinect SDK to create more advanced software. While it’s still new, the community forums have help to get you started with the Kinect SDK.



Digital Storytelling with Kinect

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Digital storytelling just got way, way cooler…

With iClone and Kinect, teachers and students will be able to interact with virtual objects and scenes in real-time.

First seen on



Kinect Apps for Education Community

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

I’m announcing the Kinect Apps for Education Community section of KinectEDucation, where anyone can download and upload their own Kinect FAAST key bindings, software, and articles.  All content, including membership, is free.  If you’re new to  



Top Applications for Kinect in Education

Sunday, June 5th, 2011

The results are in! After compiling results, these are the top application categories educators would like to see “Kinectified” with key bindings for use in their classrooms:

I could focus on specific applications (with the exception of Google Earth), but my intent is to decentralize control and have the community determine the direction of a lot of these initiatives.

The key binding contributions for each of these application categories have been placed in the community forums.

A couple of guiding suggestions:

  • – Determine what the most appropriate software is within each category
  • – How to compartmentalize efforts so contributors are working on unique components (meaning each person’s role is to focus on key binding gestures for specific features.

Contributors will be acknowledged in credits when this project is presented to Microsoft (official press release coming soon).

How can you help? Join the community. Once your registration is approved, you can begin contributing.

With our combined efforts, we can help classrooms evolve beyond the rhetoric.



Teacher’s Guide to Kinect and Gesture-Based Learning

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

UPDATE: This guide uses drivers that were released before the Kinect SDK came out and is not compatible with the Kinect SDK. Click here for our Kinect-SDK supported guide

—————————————————————————————————————————- Kinect is more than a gaming device; realistically, it’s an input device that can facilitate gaming (think of it like the mouse and keyboard). With a few easy tweaks that anyone can do, we can use this device to transform learning in classrooms. You don’t have to be a programmer to do this, but you do need to have a passion for innovative learning.

If we can get a community of educators and students to understand what this means and how to do it, we can develop an entire bank of gesture-based “drivers” to support all software currently in existence.

In other words, with this tool, we can we easily take existing applications (Google Earth, flash-based activities, calculators, etc.) and integrate them with Kinect. Let’s start with the end in mind; watch my videos below to see what I’m talking about. Keep in mind that I did this in a matter of three minutes. My intent wasn’t to program it to perfection, but rather to show that the process is easy to grasp.

Playing piano with Kinect

All you’re doing is mapping your gestures to keyboard characters and mouse commands. Once you’ve grasped the concept, it’s very, very simple to do.

What can we do with this? Take existing software and make it Kinect compatible. We can easily develop and deliver gesture-based learning opportunities with the bank of software already in existence. After you watch the video and read the guide below, think of software that you want to see “Kinectified” and put it in the forums. From there, I’ll establish a directory of files that can be used for any software.

This video I created will give you a better visual of how to get started; I highly recommend that you watch it. Even with the video, you’ll still need to reference the guide below to find the list of commands.


This guide looks lengthy, but it’s only because it has a list of all the commands…..please don’t let that intimidate you. The full guide is available from Institute of Creative Technologies; I’ve just edited and restructured their guide to be more appealing to the K-12 education sector. If you don’t yet have a Kinect, please consider purchasing one from a source that will support the costs associated with hosting this site.


Step 1: Install Software

To use FAAST, you will need to download and install the following software:



Kinect Lesson Plans!

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

Check out the new and emerging section of KinectEDucation, Kinect Lesson Plans!

There’s nothing here yet; these lessons are community-generated and tweaked before being included in this directory. This is a community-wide effort; if you have any idea for a lesson plan, share it with the community!

Before being published, all lessons will meet the following criteria:

  • Lesson name:
  • Content area:
  • Appropriate age group:
  • Software required:
  • Lesson description:
  • Projected learning outcomes:
  • Assessment available (not required):

Feel free to contact me with any questions!



Learning with Kinect: Follow the Path of Innovation

Sunday, May 8th, 2011

Success within your professional career is largely a matter of aligning yourself with the core values of your surrounding environment; but occasionally, adhering to your environment and the status quo may come at the expense of innovation. If the system you’re operating within is isn’t aligned with innovative practices, your innovative idea may not fit well within the organization and may threaten its foundation and your personal success.

Our students and our teachers deserve to be guided by best practices, not practices that place excessive emphasis on teaching “tricks” that help attain a passing score on standardized assessments. Please don’t misunderstand me – I do teach shortcuts to help attain that important passing score. It’s hard to escape, and at times, “tricks” do help students succeed as we’ve defined it. But if better options exist – options that can help teach content and minimize the “tricks” – we need to spend more time pursuing those.

Will gesture-based learning innovate schools? As an educator, I strongly feel like this dimension of learning may help teachers, administrators, students, legislators, and state education agencies share harmony amongst their respective values. For most schools, these new dimensions of learning currently exist as mere ideas that need innovators to effectively integrate them in learning environments.

It’s important to step back from time-to-time and make sure that the road we’re on is worth taking. If innovative instructional practices can help us focus on what’s most important in our classrooms – rigor, relevancy, and relationships – then that’s the path we need to follow.

Using the Kinect for learning (gesture-based learning) is just one new paradigm to explore; what other innovative avenues have you been exploring? Feel free to leave your comments in the community forum or on the Kinect Education Facebook Page.



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