Capturing students’ interest and making concepts come alive in a personalised way can be a challenge for educators in this technology and gadget-driven world. The popularity of gaming outside the classroom makes it an appealing and exciting platform for kids inside the classroom. Gaming can be a revolutionary technology that provides an immersive content experience, it inspires collaboration and builds connections in the classroom, community centers, and everywhere else you engage with others in and outside of the living room.

Below are two useful case studies that represent some of the great work that teachers are doing to incorporate the power of gaming and the ability to cater for mulitple learning styles with Kinect/Xbox in their classes.

Sunset Elementary School

At Sunset Elementary School in Colorado, students are using Kinect across the curriculum, to study geography, science, natural history etc. And their teacher reports that she’s seen improvements in their comprehension and knowledge retention.

As Cheryl Arnett says:

“There’s power for kids in things that capture their interested, and are also something they can learn from. We’ve barely scratched the surface of where this can go; it’s limited only by our imaginations.”


A NZ example of effective game-based learning in the classroom: 
Rural teacher's highly successful gameplan one out of the Xbox from NZ Herald article

Teacher, Jan Anderson has incorporated gaming systems such as the XBox and movies into her schedule, and her recipe for enhancing traditional teaching has proven worthy of international recognition.

"When we were doing science and looking at forces in motion, I used an XBox game called Thrillville, where the students are making their own rollercoaster," Mrs Anderson said.

Mrs Anderson's work at Methven Primary School earned her the Microsoft 2010 Innovative Teacher Award - given to only one teacher in each of the Asia Pacific countries.

"Students involved in it over three months increased their reading age on average by one and a half years."


University of Washington

Robin Angotti, an associate professor of maths education at the University of Washington-Bothell, is also working with Kinect for education.

With two computer science students at UW-Bothell, Jebediah Pavleas and Jack Chang, she’s created a custom Kinect app to help teach students functions of mathematics such as distance, acceleration, and velocity by letting them plot these equations on a graph in real time using Kinect and their bodies rather than just computing an equation with a pencil on graph paper.

She came across Kinect and decided to create a math app that would bridge the gap between the abstract formulas and the real world her students live and breathe in. Why?

 As Robin says:

Maths is a gatekeeper. If kids don’t get into algebra by their [their first] year of high school, they’re off track to major in any kind of STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths] field. It’s really interesting – data shows that maths is a favourite subject when kids are younger. Somewhere in the middle school years, when they’re starting to have to abstract (when math moves from the concrete world of addition, subtraction and multiplication to the more abstract equations of geometry and algebra), we’re losing them. This piece of software makes math less abstract.

What’s going on?

Why are there so many projects looking at the use of Kinect in education? Cameron Evans, the National and Chief Technology Officer for the Microsoft Education team in the US, puts it simply:

The potential behind bringing gaming to education is immense.The majority of time spent playing video games, the gamer is failing, he said. Yet when a player fails in a game, they come back again and again until they get it right. Bringing gaming to education could help a student who fails a maths test, for example, keep trying until they get it right.


Where to find out more about Kinect in education

To witness first hand some of the great ideas that have been put into action and see new ones being developed, check out...

Like the Kinect for Education Facebook page and subscribe to the KinectEd Youtube channel to keep up to date with the latest teaching ideas and case study examplars.

There’s a further article about Kinect in education projects where teachers are using Kinect with Xbox to support learning:

  • Using Kinect
         Sports to help teach maths concepts such as patterns versus randomness,
         probability, and angles through bowling
  • Students using
         Avatar Kinect to produce late-night shows and commercials, strengthening
         their language arts skills
  • Teachers using
         Kinect to teach maths lessons on angles, probability and arithmetic.
         School

Find our more about Kinect in Education on the Microsoft website