Years ago, I played Nintendo's Wii during a potluck lunch at a friend's house. The object of the game was to “shoot” as many flying ducks as possible in a given time frame. That was my one and only attempt at gesture-based gaming. Frankly, it seemed boring and mind-numbing. Obviously, modern systems are leaps ahead of the crude motion-sensing devices that required a hand-held controller and processed a limited range of movements.
These advances in the gaming world are having an impact on education around the world. The New Media Consortium's 2012 Horizon Report says that gesture-based systems will become more common in various educational systems within the next four to five years.
Devices like Android and Apple smartphones, Microsoft Surface, Promethean ActivPanel, Nintendo Wii, and Microsoft Kinect systems are currently at the forefront of gesture-based software design and implementation.
“Researchers and developers are gaining a sense of the cognitive and cultural dimensions of gesture-based communicating, and the full realization of the potential of gesture-based computing within higher education will require intensive interdisciplinary collaborations and innovative thinking about the very nature of teaching, learning, and communicating,” the Horizon report says.
That all sounds good, but as many of our readers have suggested before: Leaders at traditional institutions, for the most part, don't want to change or learn the technologies necessary to teach the modern, digital media literate student.
Touch-based communication systems, though, have been a welcome technology for students who can't see or manipulate a keyboard. Gesture recognition systems have, for years, given blind, dyslexic, and disabled students opportunities to interact with computers and the outside world. So there is a foundation of success to build upon.
Schools like the University of Oregon are leading the gesture-based education movement with programs like EyeMusic, which allows students to create sounds and songs using eye movement and sensors. That's a gigantic leap from the old point-and-click gaming systems at parties of days gone by.
But imagine how many mallards I could “shoot” with Oregon's program. A true look that kills. I doubt the faculty, students, researchers, and alumni would allow it, though, being that their beloved mascot is a duck.