Technology Trends: Gesture-Based Computing

30 06 2011

Currently at my school with other subject teachers, like math for example, students frequently play computer games to help enhance their skills. These games are simple single-player games and not anything as complex that was discussed in regards Game-Based Learning in the 2011 Horizon Report. Besides that, occasionally the gym teachers at my school incorporate Wii games into their lesson except they aren’t actually using the Wii, as we don’t have one available at school. Instead, they simulate Wii inspired games with various gym equipment and supposedly, it’s a big hit with the students.  I imagine in they had the real deal there, they would be even more thrilled about it.

My school also has a Team Board and a Promethean Board, which somewhat fall into the category of gesture-based learning. Even though these types of technologies require touch rather than just gestures I think they’re still relevant. However, the Team Board is kind of outdated and doesn’t always work and the Promethean Board is in a computer lab across the school that is almost always booked. So, this past year, with the help of another teacher, I created my own interactive whiteboard in my classroom using a Wii remote, Bluetooth software, and an infrared marker. The concept was invented by a Ph.D.
recipient at CMU, Johnny Chung Lee, and he has his program available for this for free on his website. The whole thing costs about $50.00 to create. I didn’t get mine set up until almost the end of the year so I didn’t have a chance to really use it in a lesson yet. I did use the Wiimote as a wireless clicker to advance slides in a PowerPoint and the students were very impressed even by that! I do have plans to use the interactive white board in my room to present artworks to students, have discussions about them, compare and contrast possibly putting them into a Prezi and then moving between the works, drawing on the works, and allowing students to interact as much as possible.

As of now, I can’t say that I personally know anyone that uses any of the early adoption technologies in my school district. I am sure there are high school students that have electronic books, but I would say if they do, they’re probably for personal use. One of the administrators in my school district has said multiple times that having students use their cell phones in class in place of a CPS type voting system would be beneficial. I believe she would like us to move in that direction, but as of the end of last school year, students were not allowed to have cell phones with them during school hours.

I chose to focus more on Gesture-Based Computing to explore further for this assignment because I already have some interest in it. I looked specifically at the type of gesture technology mentioned for art because I am an art teacher. The application is called UDraw GameTablet that combines with a Wiimote to be used. Here’s a video review of the product by the Children’s Technology Review.

While it received positive reviews I wasn’t all that thrilled thinking of application of its use within my classroom. After watching the video I just couldn’t help but think, why not just use actual charcoal with students in art class? So, while I think it’s a fun piece of technology, I am still waiting to see a useful application for it in the art room, or any classroom.

So for now, I guess I’ll be sticking with my WiiSmartboard. I’m excited to use it this coming year!

References:

Children’s Technology Review  (Creator). Childrenstech (poster). (2010, August 31). uDraw Game Tablet Review [Video] Retrieved from http://youtu.be/MIW5wVZoO5o

Johnson, L., Smith, R., Willis, H., Levine, A., & Haywood, K., (2011). The 2011 Horizon Report. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Lee, J. C. Johnny Chung Lee>Projects>Wii. Retrieved from http://johnnylee.net/projects/wii/

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