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Posted by on Apr 18, 2011

Kinect, Brian Eno, and kinesthetic learning

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The two images are taken from Personas, how the internet sees you. What if we were able to kinesthetically and intellectually able to craft that perception?  

A friend of mine (who shall remain nameless) brought this to my attention regarding Kinect SDK and how Microsoft has opened the floodgates a bit by allowing outside developers to build on the system. I am not technical nor do I pretend to be able to take advantage of this development personally, but I do immediately see the advantages of such an approach. For Microsoft, access to a potential development pool infinitely greater than their own as well as significant saturation in the market (if I can build on it, I become invested in it). For developers and the general public, there is an opportunity to build applications without significant commercial upside (ie, educational ones). 

Overall, it is a good shift towards shortening the distance between cognitive and kinaesthetic activity. I think something and then do something without the intermediate step of inputting something. What you do achieves immediate representation. While it will only work on Windows (at least initially) seems to be a temporary inconvenience. Eventually, I can imagine a saturation across all platforms. 

So what does this mean for learning? 

Everything, really. It allows motion activated applications to be built throughout schools (short-term) and then throughout urban centers (middle term) and then anywhere under the sun (long term). Granted, the security complications here are endless (this is some crazy uncharted territory in this respect, this shift towards geographically specific computing), but the potential is equally enormous (no risk, no reward).

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Imagine the germane cogntive load at work when learners merely mimic or mime their way through a presentation, kinesthetically fusing their cognitive process with their physical ones. Everything becomes applied practice with this type of approach and we literally learn by doing. It seems to be a wonderful illustration of activity theory as well, leading to the creation of tools and artifacts littered throughout the digital landscape, layered over real life, activated by motion. To literally sift through concepts with our hands? Incredible.

I like the potential for sensory reinforcement as well. I walk down the street (kind of like an urban sonic forest installment-like this, but less frightening:)

I walk down the street and can activate applications (Kinect boxes) in the environment, streaming together sound through the manipulation of some layer of context. I want to trigger sound based on the audible levels of the particular street or the weather or even the color of the houses. All that audio is refed into my headphones, I can record it and mix it. Instant ambient Eno (granted, not as good. Kind of like My Music for Airports, substituting this waking life for Airports. 

Speaking of Eno, why not a Bloom application for the world itself? I can layer audio and visuals over top my movements, a blur of thought, action, and sensory input? A literal dance with the environment. A permanent audio installation layered over the physical environment. 

More practically, though, I can just see a lot of learning that emphasizes activity itself, the motion of the human body. It goes a ways towards bridging the chasm of dualism, that mind-body divide and will only be developed more going forward. Ultimately, and I believe the general trends lean toward this, we will wear our technology or it will be embedded in our environment, in our landscapes itself. It will act on us and we will act on it. It will augment our (cognitive) abilities and stimulate kinesthetic interaction. It will have positive and negatives. But it will be there for us to use to the best of our abilities, for its potential for human development. 

 

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1 Comment

  1. Tried the personas..limited in that it searches the name generally not specifically, but interesting none the less.

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