Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Fun Learning for Kids - Reshaping Curriculum Elements....

The Mauritius educational system is currently undergoing a number of changes with the introduction of ICT as a major driver for educational reforms and to improve the current teaching and learning landscape. Schools in Mauritius are being equipped with interactive whiteboards and computers but the reality is that without the right pedagogical approach and the right type of content, the expected outcomes will never be achieved.

This article demonstrates a prototype story-telling cartoon that has the pedagogical objective to teach students of Standard III (age group 8-9 yrs) a simple lesson that plants need water and sunlight to grow. The original lesson is found in the students’ workbook where emphasis is laid on pictures and text. The original lesson has been converted into a story-telling script and implemented as an animated cartoon of about 5 minutes duration.

The research proposed in this project is inspired from the work of Dalacosta et al (2009) who used cartoon-styled application for the teaching of elementary science in Athens. Their target audience were students aged 10-11. Their research results provide evidence that the use of animated cartoons significantly increases the young students’ knowledge and understanding of specific science concepts, which are normally difficult to comprehend and often cause misconceptions to them.

However, Dalacosta et al. (2009) focused mainly on static cartoons and interactive animations for their research. In this project, the concept will be pushed further to include story-telling dynamic cartoons that will have a context and a scenario similar to a short movie. These will then be supplemented with learning games that will render the process similar to a recreational activity for the student, but which is in reality a learning activity taking place.

The research project in its broader sense therefore aims at the development of a set of pedagogical materials for the primary school curriculum using the cartoon-based story telling approach for students. The concepts of ‘Fun Learning’ will be explored as potential innovative teaching and learning methods that can bring about significant improvement in our educational system.

Monday, 14 November 2011


About a year ago, we launched a YouTube channel with a few videos of the Centre. It gradually evolved when the outcomes of the SIDECAP project started to take form as a series of interactive video lectures which were disseminated as Open Educational Resources. In parallel there were some discussions with the MCA about having educational programs on the MBC knowledge channel. WIth those discussions not proceeding any further with the MCA, we decided to explore easier and more straightforward means of disseminating content. 

Rather than going to create our own video streaming server which will be most of the time overloaded due to the permanent bandwidth issues that we have to face, we decided to go for the YouTube option. We started with the first course that was converted into interactive video lectures, CSE1010e and we established a playlist to link the videos together. Gradually we had started to put other course content in areas like system modelling, system security, project management. We have recently put a whole course on database design and development and one on Interaction Design on YouTube. Over the past years, the videos have attracted about 13000 views and we now have the possibility to upload longer length educational videos on YouTube. 13000 views is far from sufficient but we do hope that the momentum will be building up.

This is in line with our philosophy of promoting the use of Open Educational Resources for the benefit of education and the lambda learner. It all however depends on the human resource that we have to keep the initiative ongoing and to augment the quality of the material that is being disseminated.

The OERs available on our YouTube channel will form according to us the next generation of the concept of open education. Any one will be able to access the courses, go through them and ultimately come to us and take some form of assessment and get certified! (against a small administrative fee). 

to be continued....