Lagoa Secondary School in Portugal, is making learning more accessible to students with disabilities while bringing some fun. One creative step Lagoa took was to incorporate into their curriculum Microsoft Kinect for Xbox 360 – an advanced gesture-based gaming system. Basically, no controller is required and this has been a key factor in the Lagoa administration’s decision to adopt Kinect classroom activities for special education students.
Kinect has given teachers exciting new ways to encourage learning, promote class cohesion, and empower students of all abilities to strengthen social skills and boost subject-matter proficiency – all while students learn, have fun and also get physical exercise.
Lagoa has a significant proportion of students with cognitive disabilities who also manifest deficiencies in skills like hand-eye coordination and fine-motor dexterity. Kinect responds to how you move, so these students were able to improve their coordination by waving, jumping and moving their bodies while synchronizing with the Kinect.
Furthermore, some students at Lagoa were only able to interact with classmates for brief periods of time before withdrawing. Others struggled with verbal communication, concentration, and memory impairments. Educators noted that many of these children became socially isolated and had difficulty keeping up with peers academically because they could not fully participate in classroom learning activities. After playing with Kinect, administrators and teachers tracked improvements in social behaviours, such as leadership, communication, and teamwork as well as in concentration and retention of information.
Kinect Adventures is a popular game among students at Lagoa in which two players need to coordinate to gain most points
For example, one student, who was only able to interact with classmates for seconds at a time, exhibited the ability to participate in group learning exercises that involved Kinect for up to 10 minutes. Another student, who has difficulty communicating one-syllable words, started articulating commands such as “jump,” “forward,” and “backward” in perfect synchronization with one of the games he played in class. A third student, who has attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), demonstrated increased focus over time through the use of Kinect in the classroom and the enhanced ability to apply critical thinking skills, such as abstract problem-solving, outside of the game context.
Lagoa Secondary School is a Mentor School in the Partners in Learning programme: Lagoa’s school leaders are committed to innovation and preparing students to be 21st century learners. The school plans to further integrate Kinect into daily learning activities. “We’ve found countless applications for Kinect in our school,” says Leonardo Amaral, Principal at Lagoa Secondary School. “First and foremost, it directly supports our mission to provide a meaningful and stimulating education for all of our students; second, it helps teachers reinforce teamwork—while still providing personalized learning experiences; and it’s a fantastic tool for measuring the amazing progress that our students are making every day.