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Archive for July, 2011

After leaving South Africa I flew to Uganda to meet up with my colleague, Dr Charles Kivunja from the University of New England. Together we conducted workshops in multigrade pedagogy and the potential of ICTs for engaging learners in multigrade classrooms at the University of Makerere in Kampala.

This was the first stage of a planned larger study, which would see the work we are undertaking in South Africa extended to remote rural locations of Uganda to assist and extend multigrade approaches to improving educational outcomes for children from socially disadvantaged areas. We are hoping to implement trials of the approach using low thresholod tablet technologies in schools located on Buvuma Island early next year if we are able to attract the required funding.

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Following the presentation at the International Conference on Learning at the University of Mauritius I returned to Johannesburg to meet up with our programmer for the ALTC funded 3DVLE project, Charles Morris, who is also assisting with the development of the learning platform we are implementing in the socially disadvantaged schools in Gauteng and Limpopo Provinces in South Africa. Professor Noel Lindsay, University of Adelaide, who is also a member of the project team, joined us a few days later.

This was a follow up to our visit in January. The main purpose of this visit was to install the computers donated by SANZAF and our 3DVLE platform, and conduct teacher training. We had excellent attendance at the training sessions, even though it was school break for the teachers and children. As the photos below show, teachers were highly engaged by the learning platform.

Teacher training in Gauteng Province, Johannesburg

Teacher training in Gauteng Province, Johannesburg

 

Teachers listening to a presentation about the project by Dr Denise Wood

Presentations about the project by Dr Denise Wood and Professor Noel Lindsay

 

A press conference held in Lenasia during our visit was well attended by senior officials from the Gauteng Province Department of Education, Esquire Technologies and several other VIP guests including the local media.

Press conference held at the Impala School in Lenasia

Press conference held at the Impala School in Lenasia

Here are some stories that appeared in the media during our visit:

3D learning in South Africa. Published by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council on the 12th, July, 2011. http://www.altc.edu.au/July2011-south-africa

Gauteng, Limpopo teach in 3D. Article published 18th July, 2011 in IT Web Open Source by journalist Farzana Rasool describing our research in Gauteng and Limpopo Provinces, South Africa: http://www.itweb.co.za/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=45444:gauteng-limpopo-teach-in-3d&catid=203

SANZAF, Siyafunda CTC and Esquire Technologies major role players in bringing 3d virtual learning to Gauteng. Article published by Yusuf in LENZINFO: Lenasia’s Very Own Website on 7th July, 2011. http://www.lenzinfo.co.za/?p=2471

Esquire partners in 3D virtual learning trial. Article about our 3D virtual learning project published via Esquire Technologies South African website, 25th July, 2011. http://companies.mybroadband.co.za/esquire/2011/07/25/esquire-partners-in-3d-virtual-learning-trial/

Leading-edge 3D virtual learning technologies. Press release posted to The Big Picture, The Fine Print blog of film maker Alison Richards, 13th July 2011. http://alisonrichards.wordpress.com/2011/07/13/leading-edge-3d-virtual-learning-technologies/

We will be returning in October to conduct baseline testing of the children and then implementation of our three year longitudinal study during which time we will be tracking learner improvements in literacy, numeracy, life skills, economic management, self-efficacy, self-esteem and creativity.

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I co-presented a paper with Dr Charles Kivunja from the School of Education, University of New England at the International Conference on Learning, held at the University of Mauritius from the 5th to 8th July 2011.

University of Mauritius

University of Mauritius

There were keynote presentations by Professor Vivienne Bozalek is the Director of Teaching and Learning at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), South Africa; Dr Denise Newfield, who is a teacher educator in the School of Literature and Language Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand; Professor Chryssi Vitsilaki, from the Department of Pre-School Education and Educational Design of the University of the Aegean, Rhodes, Greece, Professor Crain Soudien, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Cape Town and several other interesting speakers, mostly from South Africa or Mauritius.

Conference presentations at the University of Mauritius

Conference presentations at the University of Mauritius

 

Our paper focused on multigrade pedagogy and practice as a means to accelerating Millennium Development Goals for Sub-Saharan Africa, drawing on a situational analysis undertaken by Dr Kivunja in Zambia, and the work we are currently undertaking in investigating the potential of 3D virtual learning environments for supporting multigrade pedagogy. The session was well attended and the paper generated much discussion and interest.

Following the conference I returned to South Africa to continue our work in Gauteng and Limpopo Provinces, while Dr Kivunja left for discussions with academics in Nairobi. We rejoined each other later in Uganda where we conducted academic training sessions at the University of Makerere (see related post).

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