Gesture based technology - What can it mean for education?
We all know or have seen (I hope) how Kinect enables the user to control their Xbox or PC and become part of engaging virtual environments with gestures, movement and voice commands. But beyond gaming, what exactly can this mean for education. In February 2012 the NMC Horizon Report - 2012 Higher Education Edition report was released and predicts gesture based technologies to be in the third wave of technologies to impact learning in four to five years time. However, gesture based technologies or Natural User Interface devices are in some of our classrooms today.
Gesture-based technologies have the potential to be transformative technology because they have the potential to be used beyond just a medium for learning. They don't just replace one form of passive learning with another, i.e. the text book with an eBook but create endless possibilities as to how to engage the learner in a multitude of resource types and scenarios.
Immersing a user in a virtual world, or gesture based browsing has the potential to change our attitudes concerning how we interact with computers in class, and promote active learning methods. We are no doubt in the midst of or the beginnings of a shift towards less passive learning techniques and styles. More active, student-centered approaches to classroom learning are becoming more common.
According to Charlie Osboune on ZDNet,
"What makes gesture-based technology unique in this respect is that it has the potential to allow collaborative efforts on a broader scale — more than setting up a classroom blog, or using PowerPoint to create a presentation, and can be used to further promote content engagement."
The traditional classroom is no longer has to be the focal point of learning where we no longer rely on traditional passive learning techniques. In these classrooms it is more common for students to be actively participating in activities; whether through project work, media, presentations or team objectives. Gesture recognition technology is far more than using a an Xbox 360 Kinect to exercise – game environments can, and are being developed, to promote activities that improve social skills, involves team work, and allows users to solve problems through collaboration. Check out how Kinect is being used to engage these children with autism. No longer is the teacher the centre of attention (or not as the case may have been!).