“Gesture-based tech: A future in education?”, by Charlie Osborne for iGeneration

I did find this piece to have lots of interesting stuff in it, but–while I realize this is a blog post and not an academic article–there were a couple of broad (and sometimes big) statements she makes that leave me wanting more–consideration, detail, supporting evidence, etc. Namely:

  • “What makes gesture-based technology unique in this respect is that it has the potential to allow collaborative efforts on a wider scale–more than setting up a classroom blog, or using Powerpoint to create a presentation, and can be used to further promote content engagement.”
  • “Gesture-based technology can be considered a medium within itself that students can learn from, as an interactive, active learning platform, rather than simply a means to play or access study material.”

This all sounds really, really exciting! But exactly how does it do all this stuff?

On another point–I am genuinely excited by the potential for gesture-based design to tap into ways of learning that are more intuitive–we might even say “natural”? Watching some of the videos of experiments and implementations with this technology, however, got me wondering, and feeling a touch more skepticism (though it feels like productive skepticism). Gestures may be more natural than a pencil or a keyboard in some ways, but is it really natural for humans to keep their arms up for such long periods of time? We’ve evolved walking around with our hands hanging down at our sides for millions of years, no? Should we be aiming for motion capture technology to get precise enough to just read hand and finger gestures as we, say, sit in a chair or on a couch–or, if we’re feeling ambitious, walking around a room?

(I also thought the video embedded in the post, “Active vs passive learning,” was wonderfully hilarious–like a Flight of the Conchords video taking the piss out of Kraftwerk; or, rather, a Kraftwerk Appreciation Society at an IT grad program.)


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