Microsoft Kinect shows potential – Your classroom next?

Unless you have been living in a dark shell for the last 6 months you will know about Microsoft kinect. In my opinion the advertising for kinect doesn’t show the actual potential of the kinect technology. I think the most promising aspect of Kinect is the Speech recognition and it looks like Microsoft may of actually got this right..

Each bing = good.

So it appears to work, and if we can just say, y’know. Collect 3 stars there is no need for incidents like this:

This video shows the potential of using Kinect’s depth perception to control a user interface with multitouch.

Finally, The facial recognition is supposed to really good. Sounds like the Kinect hardware is going to be a winner. I don’t know what % of users will end up owning a 360 so my recommendation to you is to treat the Kinect as a separate platform.

If you are a developer I would consider focusing on preparing your offline and online material for “Kinect aware” devices. If Kinect aware adobe flash content begins popping up it could create a whole new market place and genre of game.

This video shows how the Kinect can replace a conventional smart board:

This video shows it’s potential use to control puppets!! Awesome!

Here is a video that demonstrates how game creators are compensating poor control quality by adding auto steering to make the gaming experience feel less detached..

This is nice, it shows using multiple Kinects to map a physical space to a 3d model.

Remind anyone of the Eyes to the front proposal I did?

Kinect gesture recognition controlling web browser(chrome)

Some guy in Essex has written a driver for controlling Windows 7 (sort of like a touch screen)

If MS release face detection as part of an API then a simple facial detection system for class registration.

Kinect could also be used as a tool for assigning IWB control to pupils.

I think we should look past the obvious of just UI control in a touchscreen format, we must remember the potential for depth.

Here we can see a kinect being used to pass control from one user to another..

Scrobbling Learning

Scrobbling is a process uses to figure out the type of music you like.  It is about 90% accurate and over time builds a more and more accurate profile about what you “might like”.  A while back we have entered into an Internet age of recommendations.  Amazon adopted it a long time ago, it is about 20% accurate for me.

Recommendation engines do work but they must rely on users not only “doing” tasks but feeding back if they felt it was a positive/negative experience and if the recommendation engine should of recommended the item or not.  For example even though is 90% accurate for me sometimes I block a song but get the rest of the songs from that artist.

A project called ROLE intends to profile a learner based and recommend content based on their learning profile.

Currently the project is in an abstraction and development phase.  I appreciate the concept.  I think it is possible, doable and feasible and should have a number of practical purposes.

ROLE has many more challenges to face, such as what type of content is being delivered and is the learner more focused on a type of content IE biology or a type of learning style or will it approach it with a 3d angle of trying to profile the style of learner and the content desired?

The largest challenge ROLE faces it the natural opposition from educators feeling like their workload is being converted into a factory style process. I hope ROLE get a decent video up on YouTube explaining the challenges they face and how they intend to address them. It appears for an open project they are having lots of problems communicating to the wider public exactly what they are trying to achieve and why developers should get involved.  I hear some recent employees have been brought in to address this and I think that is a huge + and I’m looking forward to seeing what they achieve!

eSafety – Software for schools, have we gone too far?

In the education sector there has been a massive push towards software that makes children using the internet a safer experience. eSafety is commonly taught in all schools and interestingly enough there is also an approach to “schools must teach more” with the recent formal introduction of PSHCE. From an outside point of view that seems to me that the 2 angles of approach must meet in the middle.  

It seems to scream to me “Teachers must teach more eSafety!“.

Consider a man wanting to cross a road, he can be instructed by the signs to a safe place to cross or we can only allow him to cross in one place. By allowing children to be educated into where we cross the road we don’t restrict them to closed options. It seems to me that we actively encourage them to make decisions and therefore learn.

Is our current approach correct?

In many ways no. We still have a compulsive fascination with ways to protect our children. Being that I was brought up in the soils of Yorkshire, I find it hard to understand a constant barrage of rules, regulation and “health ‘n safety”. We are not doing enough to empower pupils to make decisions in eSafety and this is mostly to blame on Software houses and the demand on software houses to make overly protective environments for children to learn in.

Are we confusing eSafety with a need to have extended controls?

The example I like to use is a teacher asking his or her pupils to sign into their hotmail accounts which they created. The pupils begin logging, suddenly a scream from the back bellows “Miss I can’t remember my password!”. The teacher is Shocked and now baffled by the puzzle they face. The teacher doesn’t have time to run through the registration process all over again and they can’t reset the password.

The only way this could be resolved quickly is by giving the teacher the means to reset a pupils password or by having a helpdesk type system.

Another great example where extended controls is Primary School Safe Search. With Primary School Safe Search you can Google search any site you want. Instead of displaying a set of search results from a few hundred sites, Primary School Safe Search displays all the safe search results but prioritises the educational and school related materials to the top of the search – filtering only websites catagoriesed explicitly.

My final example is that if a teacher wants to open a pupils mailbox and its with gmail/hotmail etc. to find out if that pupil is being bullied, can they?

We must educate the pupils, and empower the teacher.