We’re headed to Austin next week for the second installment of SXSWedu, the education innovation-focused component of the popular SXSW music, film and interactive conference. We’re excited to lead a panel discussion on Tuesday morning exploring the potential interactive learning with games has to improve learning and student achievement. We’re equally excited that we’ll be giving away a Microsoft Kinect for Xbox system to one lucky teacher to take back to their school.

Microsoft believes strongly in the power of immersive learning to transform ordinary classroom experiences. It’s amazing to see how Microsoft Kinect is helping teachers get students to engage in lessons that otherwise would have been a struggle.

Titled “Interactive Gaming and Student Achievement,” the panel will feature a great group of inspiring experts, including Lisa Perez, the network library coordinator for Chicago Public Schools; Stephen Jacobs, a professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology; and Melissa Ciano Ellis, a game developer at Second Avenue Learning, which specializes in educational games.

This is a great group. Stephen is one of the premier minds in educational gaming today. In addition to teaching game history, design, narrative and industry practices, he is a visiting scholar for the International Center for the History of Electronic Games at The Strong and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Game Design and Development Education. He is currently working on game and/or narrative design for Just Press Play (funded by Microsoft Research), Martha Madison's Marvelous Machines (funded by the NSF) and MindGamers, (funded by RIT's office of Applied Research).

Melissa is a program manager at Second Avenue Learning, which specializes in the development of interactive media for education serving clients such as Pearson Education, WW Norton, and K12. Currently, Second Avenue is developing its own educational physics game for middle school girls.

In her role with Chicago Public Schools, Lisa oversees the district’s use of Kinect in three elementary schools. She coordinates technology training for all of the librarians in the district. She also manages a district-wide eBook library and has developed various technology programs, including Mobilary, a program to integrate mobile devices into the library; DETAIL, online technology training for teachers and librarians; and CPS KINECT, a program to examine best practices around the use of educational gaming.

If you’re going to SXSWedu, please join us at 10:15 am CT at the Hilton Austin Downtown, Salon B room. It should be a great discussion!