Interactive gaming systems being used as teaching aid

10th June 2011

Teachers in a Vryheid primary school, in KwaZulu-Natal, are using information technology (IT) giant Microsoft’s interactive hands-free gaming systems, Xbox Kinect, to improve English literacy among learners.

This use of the technology is the subject of a study by the IT provider at the Lakeside Primary School, in Vryheid, where six Xbox Kinect units were installed in the schools grade one, two and three classrooms in March this year.

Microsoft’s Africa School Technology Innovation Centre manager Victor Ngobeni will present a workshop on the study, which is a world first, at the upcoming African Education Week, to be held in Johannesburg from July 6 to 8.

He reports that both learners and teachers have embraced the new technology in the classroom. Teachers have integrated the game into formal lessons for between two and three hours, three times a week.

“All the games are in English and have verbal or written instructions. Learners are automati- cally exposed to listening and reading more English. Their vocabulary is extended and they are motivated to interact in English. It is in this interaction that language acquisition takes place coincidentally and informally,” explains Ngobeni

The knowledge and experience gained from the study at Lakeside Primary School will be shared with other schools as the concept evolves, and is monitored and evaluated throughout 2011.

“We have noticed the need for a variety of games to offer each grade something different, and we will release the Microsoft code for local games developers later this year, so that they can devise education-orientated locally relevant games to the benefit of our youth’s education,” he says.

Technology, together with other critical success factors like continuous teacher professional development and support, has the potential to have a transformative impact on education.

There is a great need for clear leadership, support and guidance to ensure relevant inte- gration of technology into education, says Ngobeni.

The fifth African Education Week is the largest education convention and expo on the African continent. Part of the event is the Technology Indaba, which focuses on using technology to enhance teaching and learning in the classroom.

The convention is aimed at those involved in education, including teachers, principals, curriculum planners, advisers, further education and training (FET) colleges and university faculty heads, deans, lectures, campus heads and information and communication technology managers, along with suppliers of educational products.

The expo, which is themed ‘Bridging the skills gap through quality education for all’, will provide a forum for over 1 600 attendees from across Africa to discuss the critical issues affecting schools, FET colleges and universities, and to exchange ideas and solutions.