New free app to boost maths and science results

2018-05-09 06:01
Prof Werner Olivier, director of Nelson Mandela University’s Govan Mbeki Mathematics Development Centre, is the driving force behind the new TouchTutor Quiz app.              Photo:SUPPLIED

Prof Werner Olivier, director of Nelson Mandela University’s Govan Mbeki Mathematics Development Centre, is the driving force behind the new TouchTutor Quiz app. Photo:SUPPLIED

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IN many underresourced schools across South Africa, often with underqualified teachers, learners do not always gain the mathematical knowledge or skills they need to excel at school or to access universities.

To give learners a better chance, Nelson Mandela University’s (NMU) Govan Mbeki Mathematics Development Centre (GMMDC) has been using cutting-edge technology to boost teaching and learning in maths and science in secondary schools – and launched its second unique education app on Friday, May 4.

The app, TouchTutor® Quiz, which is available free from the Google Play Store, provides mobile access to Maths and Science content, self-tests with feedback, multilanguage support and even school- or province-based competitions, linked to the Grade 8 to 12 school curricula for Maths and the Grade 10 to 12 Physical Sciences curricula.

The app can be downloaded onto phones or android tablets – which can be linked to data projectors for teaching in classrooms.

“This new app can be used by learners, teachers and schools anywhere in South Africa. It builds on our existing programmes, which have led to improved understanding and real results in the classroom.

“The new app will allow us to bring more innovation into the classroom and help even more learners, which we are really excited about,” said GMMDC director, Prof Werner Olivier.

The quiz is a spin-off of GMMDC’s first app – the ground-breaking TouchTutor package – which is an offline teaching and learning resource that covers the complete school curriculum.

This app, first introduced in 2012 and expanded each year until its 2017 completion, brings Maths and Physical science concepts to life for learners through offline video lessons, PowerPoint presentations and innovative software called GeoGebra – while also boosting their understanding through past papers, interactive self-tests and language support in several South African languages.

Until now, the app has only been available as a tablet- or desktop-based “personal tutor” for learners in GMMDC project schools, and a laptop-based teaching resource for teachers.

To date, more than 7 000 Grade 10 to 12 learners at more than 100 project schools have received tablets with TouchTutor support through GMMDC’s incubator school programme (ISP) or their tablet-assisted after-school peer support (TAPS) programmes, and more than 1 500 teachers from 450 schools have received laptops through GMMDC’s teacher development programmes.

GMMDC has also set up tablet- and desktop-based resource centres at most of the project schools – benefiting a further 10 000 learners.

Over the past three years, more than 50% of the ISP and TAPS learners at project schools in Nelson Mandela Bay and other Eastern Cape districts, have enrolled for university study programmes.

“Our aim now is to reach and support a much wider target group of teachers and learners via the new mobile app,” said Olivier.

“A common thread through all our programmes has been our focus on harnessing accessible offline technology in a creative way to reach the new ‘screen generation’ of learners, who cannot imagine a world without TVs, mobile phones and computers.

“Teachers of Maths and Physical Sciences are in desperate need of modern teaching approaches to connect and address aspirations and the content gaps of learners in South Africa.”

Olivier said Friday’s launch was also an opportunity to celebrate the “impact and maturation of the TouchTutor package after more than five years of research and development”.

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