Blue-sky thinking on Kinect and Xbox in education

I am excited about the upcoming launch of Kinect for Xbox 360 this November and the potential to push the envelope to create new experiences for the classroom and virtual learning environments.

Not only does Kinect (formerly known as “Project Natal”) represent an exciting new platform for the potential of gaming and interaction in new ways…it's intriguing to think about the possibilities of not only extending natural user interface beyond touch and speech and pen, but actually using visual recognition, voice recognition, as well as gesture motion to capture and create new experiences with technology. Kinect was born out of Microsoft Research...there's a great video below that shows the concept to reality. You can also read more about what researchers are envisioning for the next 5-10 years in human computer interaction here and here.

There's tremendous application potential for the classroom, whether it's gesture-based input for smart boards or whiteboards, or the potential of having students getting more active in the classroom with projects and visual simulations, etc. There are so many opportunities for partners to really push this technology in new ways. Think about the possibilities if the capabilities of Kinect were transferred to the PC…or if it was optimized for publishers to be able to create content for the classroom on the Xbox.

I’ve blogged before about gaming as an education solution…and I certainly see the potential beyond gaming to think about what the future of a classroom would look like or the future of connection between students and team-based activities, as well as things as simple as raising your hand and having your classroom recognize the student who raised their hand.  Interactive experiences, really new dynamics for interacting with content, using gestures to navigate, using voice recognition, creating new types of simulations using full motion and even helping kids with fitness. There's lots of opportunity for this type of technology to really accelerate the way in which we get more and new, different experiences with technology.

What do you think? Is this too far out for schools? What would you create?


Comments (8)
  1. Clemens says:

    I really think that there may be a lot of potential in Kinect in all sorts of applications. In order to make it work for schools though, I think Microsoft will have to lower the price (but eventually will, probably).

    Thanks for the Research Links: awesome!

    My website is all about Kinect and its games, maybe you will find it an interesting read.

  2. Bryan says:

    Having used XNA & C# in my classes for what 5 years now I am chomping at the bit to get Kinect. I have already meet with one of our English teachers to start work on an interactive assignment with the Great Gatsby – So would you guys get off your butts and release the darn SDK. After what, a year I would think you have all the bugs worked out. Give me Give me Give me. My students have worlds to create and others to help!!!

  3. OllieBray says:

    I don’t think its blue sky thinking – we just need people to catch up!

    In East Lothian, Scotland we have over 70 x-boxes deployed across our 46 schools that we use regularly to engage young people in meaningful learning activities.  My project won 2nd place at the 2009 Worldwide Innovative Education Forum and it will come as no surprise that we are very excited about getting our hands on Kinnect.

    There are lots of games that I think will have amazing potetila for learning but the one that I am most excited about is kinectimals (…/default.htm).

    I can already see this being used in the classroom to create a great cross-curricular project where Kinectimals is used as a contextual hub for learning and we structure the curriculum around the game. Not only are there obvious links to teaching about animals, eco-systems and place but I also think that the immersive environment that the game provides would develop a magical environment for creative writing.  The game also looks like it will provide some great opportunities to teach and reinforce some of the softer skills of care and empathy.

    I can’t wait to get this into a primary (elementary school).

    On another note I think that Kinnect has great potential for creating a range of education mini-games. It would be great to be able to combine motor response with learning activities to reinforce the core skills of literacy and numeracy. ‘Dance phonics’ just has to be developed.

    The great thing about Kinnect is that its facial recognition software (with the right thinking) will also be able to create more personal and progressive learning experience for children.

  4. John McLear says:

    Just stumbled upon this post, I have been following the kinect stuff and started to brain storm some ideas for how to use in the classroom here:…/xbox-kinect-shows-potential-of-use-in-a-classroom

  5. Marc Faulder says:

    My school has invested in Kinects for our Foundation Stage classes (Reception and Nursery). I am the reception class teacher and in a couple of weeks will be using Kinectimals in the classroom. This term we are learning about 'Homes' and Kinectimals will help us explore 'a faraway place', and we will research where the animals really come from so we can look at real maps and real places as well.

    There is very little on the internet about actual classroom applications though. I am interested in discussing real plans and uses with other teachers and professionals in schools. Pleaes get in touch with me through my blog or by e-mail

    I look forward to starting an exciting learning journey with this amazing piece of kit!

  6. Anthony Salcito says:

    Thanks for the ideas and feedback.  We are indeed very excited about the reaction to our Kinect technology and the enthusiasm of this device for gaming/navigation purpose…with over 8M devices already purchased since launch a little over 2 months ago.  The future is incredibly exciting and potential of integrating this new technology set in new ways is definitely something we’re exploring.  Stay tuned as I’ll share developments as they’re available.

  7. Marc Faulder says:

    Here is a link to a blog I posted about teaching with the Kinect in Early Years…/using-kinectimals-to-support-play-in-the-early-years-classroom

  8. Rebecca Priebe says:

    Has there been any more info on this? I was thinking it would be cool if there could even be a high school that was like the sims. Our teenage kids are really into that. It would be cool if you could take courses through an avatar and a virtual school – there are lots of positives that this would bring to learning!

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