The following entry was originally posted on the Microsoft Teachers Blog and looks at how the Xbox can be used in the classroom. Often dismissed as simply a games console, Stuart Ball explores the many different ways in which the device can be utilised within an educational setting to engage students and provide access to a range of resources and experiences.
I get asked this at BETT every year, people are thinking how they can use this consumer technology in the classroom (or how they can persuade their spouse that they need one for work!). It is relative high investment in a device maybe? About the cost of a mid range laptop. But, because as it is a ‘games console’ some might see it as frivolous. But , I disagree, here are some thoughts. Gamification is a valuable educational process. Just look at Minecraft. So starting with games, having a dedicated powerful, internet connected device, with large screen or projector, is a great asset and way to introduce at least two great resources for the classroom, Minecraft and Project Spark.
Both of which provide great learning opportunities and not just in the computing field. Activity games, such as Shape Up and Dance Central, linked to the Kinect, are a great activity related opportunity. Students can have their own ‘school created’ profiles, with their own designed avatars that will save their progress. The Family Settings can be used to create an environment where the students can only access what you you want them to access.
Next I would use it as a Skype Console, use the Skype in the Classroom website to create activities and connect your class to the world. The Kinect acts as the camera for the class to use. Use the BBC iPlayer, YouTube and DVD Players apps to ensure you a have a full range of access to media content that can be used for learning.
The Xbox One has Windows integration, this is closer with Windows 10 and universal apps. But, already you can access OneDrive Photos and use Internet explorer on Xbox.
There are some Xbox apps that that allow the Xbox to become a great resource in the classroom for example Game DVR, this allows you to record activity that takes place on the Xbox. Students can make videos of their or even create mini movies using Minecraft and Spark. This feature is also available through the Xbox app on Windows 10 devices.
Connecting any device to a screen wirelessly is now an essential feature of the 21st century classroom. Miracast is a wireless technology that many Windows devices have. The Miracast app on the Xbox allows any device with Miracast to broadcast to it and display on a large screen. This is a wireless connection, so it does not use your valuable network bandwidth. Also once a connection is made another connection cannot be made until that device disconnects, stopping ‘unwanted’ connections.
A device running Windows 10 is able to connect to an Xbox One and can be used to control and view the activity on the Xbox. This means that if students are using Xbox for an activity it can be broadcasted to their device. Using a Micro USB cable, the controller can be plugged into that device and they can carry on. In the meantime the video input source on the projector or screen can be changed use for something else.
If this is not enough to convince the purse strings holder in your school, remember those days when ‘Today we can watch a DVD’ happen. The Xbox One is a great Bluray and DVD player and with a simple adaptor can receive and record TV.
So what’s not to love ….. Thoughts?
My Xbox One Classroom looks like this :-
Xbox One with Kinect (connected to my whiteboard projector), running:
Xbox on Windows 10