Recently I have been playing about with the XBOX Kinect plugged into my laptop. It really has opened my eyes to the potential of the kinect in the classroom. How often do our students say “oh sir not another PowerPoint”. By using the kinect it gives presenting information a new dimention for our students. For those teachers out there that are saying under their breath “why not just use a mouse”. You really have no idea. Not everyone teaches in a private school where the students are switched on all the time. Students in my classes now want to create presentations because they know once they have completed their work they can present it in a way that reflects a science fiction film (Minority Report for those who don’t watch films).
Minority Report Clip
Below you can read a blog post written by my good friend Allessio Bernardelli from NGFL Cymru.
Space Kinect – Blog post from NGFL Cymru Written by Alessio Bernardelli
We hinted in our previous post that we would try to do something with the Kinect after an exciting demonstration from Gareth Ritter (Willows High) at the ICT for Education Live in Cardiff. So, we went to Willows High School and used the Kinect with one of our resources on Space, The Origin of Chemical Elements. One of the tasks in this resource asks the learners to create their own space tours using the Worldwide Telescope to show the life cycle of a star according to the theory of evolution of stars. We believe that this task is quite useful to develop Literacy, as teachers could ask their students to create tours in the form of stories, space missions, time travels, etc. Using this type of creative writing at the storyboard stage of their space tours is an exciting opportunity for learners to work at their own pace and using styles that suit their interests and abilities, hence personalizing their learning experiences.
But to introduce the activity and the Worldwide Telescope to Willows’ learners we used a Kinect plugged into a laptop (a trick we learnt from Gareth) to control a map in Bing Maps US. It is important to use the US version of Bing, because that allows the user to use the Bing Apps, and one of these is the Worldwide Telescope App. This app allows you to observe a map of the universe from any location in the world and it will show what you can see at that particular time of the day! Have a look at the video below to see how this learner became familiar with this technology.
This is what learners at Willows said after their experience with the Kinect:
“I found the Kinect difficult to use at first, but once you get into it, it becomes very easy and fun to use.”
“I found the Kinect more exciting than using a mouse, because you feel submerged into the map of the Universe and it is as if you are actually moving around rather than just staring at a screen. It’s very hands on!”
You can find the software and drivers we used here.