Microsoft has teamed up with such brands as Sesame Street, National Geographic, and leading academics and learning research institutions to deliver new ways to learn using the Xbox 360 and its full-body motion sensing technology to deliver new ways to learn for young children.
Working with Sesame Workshop and National Geographic, Microsoft's initial "playful learning" experiences —"Kinect Sesame Street TV," "Kinect Nat Geo TV" and code-named "Project Columbia" — promise to "inspire kids and their parents to get off the couch and into the action, working cooperatively with their favorite characters to have fun and learn at the same time."
"We know that the most effective learning environments for children are those that are engaging and exciting, and that foster collaboration and a positive attitude toward learning," said Alex Games, Ph.D. curriculum and learning sciences expert and educational design director for Microsoft. "With the controller-free magic of Kinect, we can encourage kids to use their motor skills and to learn using their body in immersive experiences. This new way to play allows children to learn by interacting with their favorite characters and engage with content in novel ways."
Xbox 360 is also filming a season of interactive shows in partnership with Sesame Street called “Kinect Sesame Street TV." This new show will offer interactive versions of shows from the current television season, new content written and filmed just for Kinect and access to classic clips from the "Sesame Street" archive.
"Sesame Workshop and Microsoft are committed to producing rich engaging content in a new media platform for children who will have positive educational experiences," said Rosemarie Truglio, PhD, vice president Education and Research, Sesame Workshop. "This partnership is an opportunity to combine the interactive platform of Kinect with Sesame Workshop's 42 years of innovative and research-based approaches to educational content. This new media experience allows for meaningful learning — leveraging kids' gross motor abilities by creating exciting, gesture-based movements that allow them to connect with our characters and content."
"Nat Geo WILD is an ideal partner for Kinect, turning passive television viewing into a creative, immersive experience where kids and families can actually interact with our unique content," said Brad Dancer, senior vice president of Digital Media and Research, National Geographic Channels. "By partnering the stories, images and information from Nat Geo WILD with the Kinect platform, we are pushing the boundaries of traditional television and gaming to help inspire and train the next generation of explorers."
Another project code-named "Project Columbia," is being designed in collaboration with the Sesame Workshop Curriculum Team. Microsoft claims that it encourages a love for books and changes the way children read. The new portal allows children to play an active role in bringing stories to life — interacting with words and illustrations and immersing them in the story.
Microsoft also revealed a partnership with the New York University-based Games for Learning Institute, a joint research endeavor bringing together game designers, computer scientists and education researchers to pursue the art and science of educational games. Applying education theory and research-based models of learning, Games for Learning Institute researchers are examining the intersection between Kinect play and children's learning. These studies and collaborations with experts will determine the best ways in which Kinect experiences can be optimized to create content that is both fun and academically enriching, according to Microsoft.