Technology to improve education

2016-08-23 06:00
Silikamva High School learners are benefitting from Game Lab, a programme that provides students with hands-on training on how to design games, touching on character design and storytelling among other things.

Silikamva High School learners are benefitting from Game Lab, a programme that provides students with hands-on training on how to design games, touching on character design and storytelling among other things.

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Silikamva High School’s grade 10 learners in Hout Bay are now taking part in Game Lab, a programme providing students with hands-on training on how to design games, touching on character design, storytelling and programming in the process.

There are 30 learners from this school who are part of this programme, which started on Thursday 4 August and is expected to run for eight weeks.

Game Lab is one of Learning Innovation Design Lab’s (a non-profit under Formula D Interactive) interventions to use technology to improve education outcomes in schools within low-income settlements.

Formula D is a technology and interactive design firm and their commitment and success in designing interactive education experiences in settings such as museums and science centres for children has ledto the inception of Learning Innovation Design Lab.

Michael Wolf, co-founder of Formula D Interactive, says: “What makes Game Lab unique is its multifold approach in tackling deficiencies in literacy, numeracy and technical skills. Because learners are exposed to conceptual frameworks for character design and storytelling, they typically improve their literacy skills and creativity during those phases.”

In the game mechanics phase, logical frameworks support in building on their numeracy skills.

Finally, the programming component itself is a building block for technical skills in coding.

“In the past, Game Lab participants have reported improvements while teachers and school administrators have commended on the learners’ confidence boost,” adds Wolf.

The project at Silikamva High School takes a closer look into these reported outcomes by coupling the program with a rigorous impact evaluation (through a randomised control trial) that aims to measure test scores, literacy rates and numeracy skills among learners. The impact evaluation is being designed and supported by Sabhanaz Rashid Diya, a Global Development Fellow from UC Berkeley.

“The programme is still evolving and we definitely plan to take it to other schools,” says Diya.

Wolf adds: “The programme is being coupled with qualitative research, which will provide us with evidence and understanding on scaling it to other schools in the Western Cape.”

Game Lab has been implemented by Learning Innovation Design Lab since 2014 and has been implemented in three schools so far. The initiative is also providing a job placement for two of their previous Hout Bay Coding alumni.

In spring last year The Hout Bay Partnership together with Original T-Bag Designs and Sijonga Phambili, brought the Up for All coding programme for matriculants and school leavers to be trialled in Hout Bay. The top students from the trial course were then sponsored to travel to the Up For All centre in Langa to continue their training. Two of the most committed coding students, Lelothando Bokuva and Lwazi Sifo, are now working as facilitators in the Game Lab sharing their experience with the next generation of Hout Bay coders and game designers,” concludes Wolf.

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