Using Emotion Recognition in Education

Emotion Recognition
Koen Timmers

Educator - Author - Keynote speaker - Global Teacher Prize 2017 and 2018 finalist

emotive analytics in educationComputers reading your emotions. It's already existing. During E2 Toronto I was entertained by a very cool demo of a (free!) tool telling me whether I was happy, surprised, angry, sad, etc. It also 'guessed' my age, gender and even blood pressure. Amazing isn't it? 

Emotive analytics is an interesting blend of psychology and technology. Many facial expression detection tools lump human emotion into 7 main categories: Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, Surprise, Contempt, and Disgust. With facial emotion detection, algorithms detect faces within a photo or video, and sense micro expressions by analysing the relationship between points on the face, based on curated databases compiled in academic environments. To detect emotion in the written word, sentiment analysis processing software can analyse text to conclude if a statement is generally positive or negative based on keywords and their valence index. 

Try it yourself 

Microsoft offers an API to try out its Cognitive Services via Hit the button started for free, sign up and start creating your own code. This approach requires some foreknowledge. 

Want to try free emotion recognition software very quick? Download a Windows, Mac of iOS demo via

You can find a fun age and gender guessing website at The images will not be stored by Microsoft and no registration required!

Last but not least, you can find open source emotion recognition software on Github:


The use of HMI in Education

How can Human Machine Interaction (HMI) be of any use in Education? Software reading facial micro-expressions may be of interest in education.

1. Distance Learning

I'm in a distance learning project and my students attend half of the classes at home. We don't activate our webcams because this takes a lot of bandwidth and thus slows down our internet connection so in most cases I don't know how my students feel at home. Are they happy, bored or even angry? The software can let me know silently so I can check with them whether they need extra explanation or assistance. 

2. Feedback to the teacher

You created dozens of instructional videos but you never got any reliable feedback of your students. Sure you can do (anonymous) surveys, but in the end you never can be sure of the fact the students filled in the questionnaire completely honest. In many cases you don't know how students feel while studying or taking a look at your instructional videos. This software can show how students feel while they are confronted with new topics, new learning approaches, other students, collaborative learning, etc.

3. Self paced or flipped learning

While flipped or self paced learning, it can be very interesting for an instructor knowing how students feel during their learning process and in a next step you can even add new features like offering encouragement, tips (go and rest, drink, walk, ...), feedback (no worry, we'll make sure you will control this topic, ...) etc. You may suggest to take a look at other videos when noticing fear or sadness so students can prepare themselves by having some rehearsal. 

4. How would you implement this new software? 

Please comment. 


How about privacy?

Ok, before implementing Emotion Recognition Software in your classroom, you have to think about the privacy of your students. Will your students be prepared about sharing their emotions? And will their parents?

by PLN Education