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Somantics in the ICT room
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James and I fiddling with some tech!
The first meeting of the Gesture Based Technology Professional Learning Community was on 22nd November at Trinity Fields School and Resource Centre.

In attendance:
Anthony Rhys from Trinity Fields School and Resource Centre, Caerphilly.
James and Keith from Oak Grove College, West Sussex.
Annie and Ann from Crug Glas Special School, Swansea.
Sylvia and Heini from Heronsbridge Special School, Bridgend.
Alison and Jonathan from Pen Maes Special School, Brecon.
Jan and Ann from the Visual Impairment Service, Aneirin Health Board.
Andrew from Exeter House Special School, Salisbury.
The Hollies, Cardiff.
Richard Hirstwood, Independent.

Apologies received from
Simon at Ashgrove Special School, Ceri Williams, Matt from the Court School. Nick from Maes Ebbw, Bev Evans from TES and Portfield School, Havorfordwest.

Although the weather had stopped our West Wales contingent from arriving it was a packed training base at Trinity Fields School for the first meeting of the PLC.

The Principal, Ian Elliot, welcomed everyone the meeting and found out where they were from. There was some housekeeping and information on PLC's before a tour of the school. We popped into a couple of classes and had a look at the provision for ICT that was in place around the school, including height adjustable smart boards, multi touch widescreen monitors, kinects, iPads and the EyeGaze. Anthony then gave an introduction to gesture based technology and we had break.

Jenny and Helen from our Communication Team then gave a short talk on how the Eyegaze is being used in school- not solely for communication purposes on a one to one level but as a tool for exploration by a variety of pupils. Jenny showed us some video evidence on this being used in school too.

James and Keith from Oak Grove then showed a Prezi show including some great video clips on the work they have done so far using the Kinect and Po-Motion in their school.
James has put a little write up here of the day. Keith Manville has also put a write up of the day here:

Lisa, our nursery teacher at Trinity Fields, then showed video evidence showing good initial engagement of a nursery child using the iPad, and she explained about his recent involvement with the Somantics Kinect program too. Since September he has been very hard to engage with anything in class, preferring to stand and lie by the class door and radiator. Letting him explore the Somantics program is slowly drawing him into the class, as is focused work on the iPad.

Then after a lunch break Anthony went through the evidence of engagement that he has gathered in the school, using the floor projector, eyegaze, iPads and Kinect programs with our harder to reach pupils- either as an access method or as an engagement tool. The iPad side of work is already being documented through a previous PLC run by Trinity Fields School at http://ipad-sen-plcsouthwales.wikispaces.com .
Anthony touched on some questions about what gesture based technology can be used for, recording evidence, training and embedding technology within the school.
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The delegates then had a look at the Somantics program in action in the nursery class while James and Keith set up the Processing Kinect programs in the training base. After a little play and some networking, and coffee we reconvened to think about the next step, and what the delegates wanted from the PLC. There was discussion about how to use the technology in the curriculum rather than in one to one sessions. There was discussion about practicalities also, most of these will hopefully be dealt with by this wiki site. Some schools are hoping to use the Kinect for their more able pupils too as an engagement tool.

We also touched on evidence gathering and the focus of the PLC but nothing was set in stone yet.

The next meeting was agreed for Thursday 7th February at Trinity Fields School again, Anthony said he would try and get Dr Wendy Keay Bright of the Somantics team and some eyegaze demonstrations on that day. Both Somantics and Hector from Tobii have confirmed for that date.
Delegates also said they would try out some of the Kinect programs in their settings and report back, Richard Hirstwood said he would keep his eyes open for any other schools using the Kinect and would also spread the word about the PLC's work.

Thanks to everyone for coming! Perhaps a Vimeo account would be good for the PLC?
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Kinect Flow by Amnon Owed