Classrooms of Tomorrow, Today: Kinect Math App Available for Download

Classrooms of Tomorrow, Today: Kinect Math App Available for Download

I’m confident that I know how I’m teaching functions in my math classroom from now on! 

“Kinect Math” is more than just evidence revealing the classrooms of tomorrow.  It’s proof that this classroom is here, today.

Created by University of Washington Bothell students and professors,  this development reveals the power of custom-developed Kinect applications for mainstream classrooms. Robin Angotti demonstrated this development at Microsoft’s Partners in Learning Global Forum in Washington D.C.  I visited with her briefly about it at the event, but this is the first time I’ve seen it in action (video below).

Jack Chang made this available for download in KinectEDucation’s Kinect Apps for Education directory.

 

Jack Chang and Jeb Palveas  were the UWB students who developed this project.  Robin Angotti developed the original idea and Kevlin Sung served as the team’s mentor throughout development.  More information about the entire team and their development is available here.

Kinect Math works with Kinect and a PC. This is an excellent representation of how coupling this technology with passionate educators will facilitate a “Connected Education.”  For future developments with this software, your ideas and experiences with this software are highly valued.  If you have any feedback that you can pass along to this team, please do so.

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Teaching 2030: 4 Emergent Realities Shaping Education

Teaching 2030: 4 Emergent Realities Shaping Education

I’ve started reading Teaching 2030, and the section on Emergent Realities really stands out to me. Clearly, mobile devices facilitate the development of each.  What I admire most about this framework is that all of these emergent realities are people-focused, reminding us that our toolkits will continually evolve and should serve as a means to an end.

Below are the four Emergent Realities.  How do you think mobile devices will contribute to each?

Emergent Reality 1: focus on students and personalized learning.

Emergent Reality 2: Seamless connections in and out of cyberspace.

Emergent Reality 3: Differentiated professional pathways.

Emergent Reality 4: Teacherpreneurism and a future of innovation.

For additional insight, see how Keller ISD formulated a strategy for success with mobile devices.

On a side note, thank you for your support; my blogging frequency here has slowed down as of late.  Some have asked where I’ve gone – I’m still here!  The last few months have been incredibly busy and I just wish there were more hours in the day.  In order to maintain more frequent posts, my blogging style will be more conversational in style while still maintaining high quality content.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Innovation in Education: Building Capacity for Renewed Perspectives

Innovation in Education: Building Capacity for Renewed Perspectives

Many teacher preparation programs approach education from a perspective that incoming educators are already familiar with. Even with college courses that teach modern pedagogical approaches, sixteen years of schooling have ordained many educators into teaching philosophies that reflect the practices of their former teachers. “New” teaching strategies are foreign and put us into a realm of perceived unknowns.

Ironically, some of these “new” and foreign teaching strategies – such as promoting movement for retention, incorporating mobile devices for academic gain, and taking risks for prosperity – tap into the very core of who we are as human beings. Movement, mobility, and risk-taking are three assets that are hard-wired into us and should be intuitive. We need to align our pedagogical philosophies with the whole-person paradigm of learning.

Easier said than done, I know. Given the constraints we’re operating within, what can we do to build our capacity for tapping into this whole-person paradigm?

Assuredly, the problems facing education won’t be fixed with a five-point bulleted list. However, we can be proactive by creating a new trail for others to follow.

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Mobile Devices in Education: Innovate by Making Little Bets

Mobile Devices in Education: Innovate by Making Little Bets

“Discovery doesn’t happen in a vacuum, which is why doing things, however imperfectly at first, opens us up creatively.” – Peter Sims, Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries

In the book Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries, author Peter Sims proposes that by making several “little bets” within our respective careers, we will eventually discover and develop ideas that are both achievable and affordable to implement in our workplace.  Rather than outright rejecting typical organizational models of hierarchy, linear systems, and extreme efficiency, we can spend a little time to take small ideas and experiment with them to make big discoveries and change that are fitting.

In most classrooms, there’s a strong emphasis on teaching facts and minimizing errors.  Problem solving is approached from the perspective of getting the right answer; after all, assessment scores determine teacher effectiveness and we have to play the game. The problem with this approach is that these elaborate and predetermined procedures stifle opportunities to experiment and generate new ideas to enhance and reform teaching and learning. 

New teaching tools will come and go, but effective models of learning are as timeless as our ancestry.  Learning doesn’t happen at predetermined times.  Learning doesn’t happen at fixed locations; in fact, studies reveal that most learning happens in informal education environments.  While we have an argument for reform, we still struggle with innovation. We’re afraid of “messing up.” Quite simply, we don’t have a lot of time to mess things up.

But, it’s better to fix problems than prevent errors. Over time, innovative practices are iterated and refined where they then become valuable assets to the classroom. For example, in my third year of teaching, I piloted a web-based RTI program in my class that I developed. It linked results from student assessment data to resources (videos, practice problems, notes, etc.) relevant to the standards attached to each problem. Students would then individually work on their specific areas of need; it was dynamic, accessible, and highly targeted.

In a nutshell, here’s what happened: students who were going to already do well did that much better, but there was no difference in the scores for students whose scores were already low. I didn’t adequately address the lack of the motivation from these students. With the next iteration, I tweaked the software and addressed classroom management factors to increase motivation. Assessment scores for this population improved the following year.

Here’s another example: at one point in time, the ballpoint pen was an unwelcomed tool in the classroom.  Students had used pencils for so long; why use a pen? For one, they’d forget how to sharpen pencils; secondly, what would they do when they ran out of ink?  It took people willing to make “little bets” for pens to become acceptable artifacts in the classroom. 

How can you make these “little bets” to welcome innovation? Here are six fundamentals that the author proposes:

  • Experiment: Make trial and error a regular part of your classroom practice.
  • Play: When new ideas are emerging, you may too quickly judge it to be ineffective. Play quiets this inhibition and keeps good ideas flowing.
  • Immerse: Look beyond the textbooks for ideas on new things. What’s going on in industry that you could bring to the classroom? Gather ideas from sources outside education.
  • Define: Throughout the implementation process, use new insights that define problems and needs before solving them. You may figure out a solution to a problem that you weren’t initially trying to solve.
  • Reorient: Be flexible and make necessary changes.
  • Iterate: Repeat, refine, and keep testing

Follow this path of discovery before believing your ideas have no place in the classroom.  Like the ballpoint pen, we need pioneers and advocates for new tools and models of learning.

For further reflection, check out the video below that captivates the essence of making “little bets.”

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Kinect in Education Contest: What Will You Create?

Kinect in Education Contest: What Will You Create?

With Kinect, classroom instruction can be adapted to promote classroom mobility and the overall well-being of our children, as opposed to conditioning students to unnecessary classroom routines.  While the vision for such a classroom exists, roadblocks also exist.  Primarily, these hindrances includes (1) relevant classroom software and (2) school technology infrastructure, such as the need to have Windows 7 to run the Kinect SDK and school reluctance to purchase Xbox’s for classrooms.  Although the Kinect community can’t write school purchase orders for new technology, we can create relevant Kinect software that reveals the need. 

Starting on September 9th and running through November 30th, KinectEDucation is hosting a competition to promote the advancement of education through game-based and active learning. 

Two separate awards are being given:

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$500 for the most innovative and adaptable classroom software uploaded to the Kinect Apps for Education directory.  “Adaptable” means that your software can be integrated in multiple content areas.  For example, the Shapes Game that is included with the SDK could be adapted for math classrooms to “grab the factors of five”; for an English classroom, “grab all the conjugates.”  The developments don’t have to be complex; in fact, the easier it is to execute, the better.

$500 for the “best” in-class video showcasing a Kinect classroom experience in the KinectEDucation Classroom Showcase. The “best” video reveals a classroom actively engaged in your content with Kinect and relevant software.  Advanced video editing skills are not required or needed.

You may participate in both contests if you’d like.  Additionally, winners will receive

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Mobile Devices in Education: The Progression of Innovation

Mobile Devices in Education: The Progression of Innovation

“Exploring the adjacent possible can be as simple as opening a door. But sometimes you need to move a wall.” – Steven Johnson

In Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation, author Steven Johnson explores the art, process, and history of innovation. One idea explored in this book is the “adjacent possible,” which describes how the world is always capable of extraordinary change, but only certain changes at certain times. Ideas evolve and continually build on previous ideas; they are built on a collection of parts that already exist across multiple disciplines. As ideas and innovations expand and evolve, new combinations of ideas are possible that weren’t possible or likely to succeed with the previous iteration. Johnson likens the adjacent possible to a house that magically expands with each door opened. For example, you start in a room with four doors; upon opening one door, you find another series of four doors. However, to get to the brand-new series of doors, you initially must travel through the first. At times, we may have to remove a wall to even find the door.

While the door leading to School Renewal exists, it remains as just a theory for many. While some have gained access, many are left knocking.

Innovating instruction in public education can be challenging. The “walls” that exist may block doors leading to innovation and a renewed framework for how we teach our children. Fortunately, I think we’re reaching a tipping point in education where we are exploring unparalleled “adjacent possibilities,” which will lead to exponential change years from now. The evolution of technology has provided us with new tools like Kinect and mobile devices which will be catalysts that open up brand-new doors for education reform. One outcome of inviting these innovative, accessible, and transformational technologies into our schools will be the removal of some of those hindrances that are blocking prized paths. If we can facilitate meaningful active learning experiences that demonstrate academic gain, this may lead to restructuring the framework, both physically and philosophically, of our schools.

For the right doors to open, we must continually reflect on the path we’re following.

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Link for Today’s Presentation

Good morning! Here is the link you will need to access for today’s presentation:

Augmented Reality Uploads

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