I have a new role at my school this year as Head of eLearning & Library Resources. Part of our vision for the Library is for it to become the “digital hub” of the school. It is a place where staff can participate in ICT Professional Learning and experiment with technology.
I was fortunate enough to attend the 2010 VITTA Conference. One of the many highlights for me was the Microsoft Kinect Lounge where I had the opportunity to try the Kinect system for myself. I was taken by the amazing graphics, engaging games and the ease of which I could control the activities through simple gestures. I was keen to trial the use of the Kinect system at school to see where it could take us.
The 2010 Horizon Report for Australia and New Zealand predicts that we will see a widespread adoption of Augmented Reality within the next two to three years and, within the next four to five years, the widespread use of gesture-based computing. Yes, some people are sceptical about the relevance of this type of technology in education but with sites such as KinectEDucation emerging and Stephen Howell‘s work with Kinect and Scratch, there is no denying that there are exciting possibilities!
On Friday, we hosted two groups of staff in our Library where they had the opportunity to use Kinect Adventures. The first session was only 20 minutes long due to a school event and was made up of teachers currently participating in our ICT Professional Learning Teams Program. The second session was an afternoon tea for members of our ICT Department.
Although our first session was brief, it was long enough for the teachers to try Kinect Adventures. They worked in pairs to complete “River Rush” where they quickly learnt that communication and cooperation were necessary in order to successfully navigate the challenging white water rafting course. What I loved about this session was the way the teachers jumped straight into the activities with so much enthusiasm. (Friday Period 5 can be a challenging time for students and staff!) They immediately recognised the educational value in the Kinect system and asked, “Where is this heading? How can I use this with my students now?” This then lead to a discussion about the use of the Kinect camera with a PC where students could create their own games. (If you haven’t seen Stephen Howell’s amazing Kinect games created with Scratch, then you must!)
Our second session was a “Kinect Afternoon Tea” and designed to offer our ICT Department staff some “time out”. We are very fortunate to have fabulous technical and “behind the scenes” staff. What struck me about this session was the team spirit and healthy competition that quickly emerged. They were encouraging each other and keen to see who was going to get the top score. This was a use for the Kinect system that I had overlooked – staff team building. Up to that point, I had focussed only uses only for students. We decided that we would have to buy a trophy and acknowledge the “Kinect Champion”!
This week, during our ICT Professional Learning Teams Program, we will be discussing Augmented Reality in more detail and other teachers will have the opportunity to try the Xbox Kinect system for themselves. I’m looking forward to the week ahead! 🙂