A hint of immersive learning for the future? Behind the doors of Building 99

At the Microsoft campus in Redmond, every building has a number. It makes it easier to find your way around the 100+ buildings that teams work in. In one of those, Building 99, you’ll find part of the Microsoft Research team – who get to experiment on the bleeding edge of technology. Lots of their research takes place behind closed doors, but whenever we get a chance to peak inside to see what’s going on, there’s always a surprise. A team from The Verge, an online tech news site, were there recently, and handily took along a camera crew:

What they found was research into new user interfaces, using some of the capabilities of Kinect. After I watched this, it made me wonder what this technology will be used to enable in the classroom. As learning changes, and students have access to more and more information sources outside of the traditional set of teachers and textbooks, how will this kind of technology be used to create immersive learning experiences? How feasible is it going to be to fully immerse a student in the Gallipoli campaign and help them to learn from doing, rather than just reading and watching? People have talked about immersive learning for a long time – but a technology rich, immersive classroom to match some of the best high-funded museum experiences has been an exception.

When you can take a $50,000 sensor device and swap it for a $150 consumer product in the form of Kinect, I think the breakthrough may be just around the corner.