The Microsoft Kinect device has various practical uses in the classroom. I have blogged about it a few times but some thinking today has made me question if the focus we should have in a classroom is towards many to one or if we should be putting more focus and investment into OLPC.
I was thinking if you were given a choice to control the teachers white board would you rather do it with a device in front of you or would you rather do it with some sort of augmented control on your desk/in the air?
One to many or many to one?
I think that personalized learning dictates each child should have their own device but that only really currently makes sense if the kids have learned fine motor skills to control the devices.
Story telling etc. can receive additional immersion with real time physical space feedback. That is where the Kinect comes into it’s own IMHO.. Before any Apple fan girls start moaning that I’m jumping on the MS bandwagon I think you should remember that I’m talking about the Kinect like it is the only space aware tool available because IT IS. The depth perception market isn’t an iPod style market where Apple out-market Sony even though there product is inferior. If there were other options I would be considering them.
Problems with space
The huge problem is that Kinect requires a huge amount of physical space in the room for the user. Sure it can handle 2 or 3 people but it would struggle to differentiate between different users(pupils) in a reception/nursery class.
So where does a Kinect style control fit in?
Are classrooms too small? Various Educational Technology Leaders are currently experimenting with it’s place in the classroom. Consolarium up in Scotland powered by the mighty Derek Robertson are doing some fantastic things and I’m looking forward to their feedback.
Is the Kinect unable to differentiate between enough users? I think this is more likely the case. So if it could that would be awesome..
Is 1 kinect per child an unrealistic expecation?
Of course it is, initially.. But in the future when Kinect type technology is included with OLPC why not consider the entire desk space virtual space? How about multiple kinects in a classroom (one in each corner) being able to compute 3d space. With this type of connectivity the kinect could figure out which desk a pupil is at and turn that desk into a control mechanism to either a) collaborate with the teacher on the IWB or to collaborate with other pupils…
What is the likely first step for Kinect outside of the XBOX world?
I have given the PT Installs team a budget to develop a new product that is useful for EYFS as we think that is the initial location where the Kinect plugged into a PC will be most fruitful. We want to move away from the console lock ins for various obvious reasons. I can’t say for obvious political reasons what our first project will be but expect to see something in and around the 2013/14 period.
I would expect the initial cost to be around the £500 mark which is roughly the cost of 2 devices per child and should (in theory) be able to leverage a large amount of content already available on the market.
So will a “kinnected” classroom damage the OLPC goal?
In theory it should aid it by giving kids a more natural way of interacting and becoming confident with using technology.