Tech Team returns to Kayamandi to boost learners’ digital literacy

Vision AfriKa learners in digital learning sessionVision AfriKa’s Grade 1 and 2 learners have been taught the basics of computer programming by a “Tech Team” made up of volunteers from the US.

The Tech Team consisted of seven volunteers from Autodesk, which sells 3D design, engineering and entertainment software. The two-week placement in the Kayamandi township in Stellenbosch was facilitated by Team4Tech, an NGO that aims to improve education in deprived communities by the use of technology.

It is the second year that the Tech Team has worked with Vision AfriKa in order to help improve learners’ digital literacy and knowledge of how technology can be used in the classroom. The volunteers initially provided teachers at local high schools with two weeks of intensive training, before hosting two educational days for primary and high school students respectively.

As part of their wider programme, the Tech Team introduced the learners to Scratch, a free educational programming language, which has more than 10 million registered users around the world. It was developed by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the US Massachusetts Institute of Technology specifically to make it fun, educational and easy for children to learn computer programming.

 Scratch works by enabling students to drag blocks from a block palette and attach them to others as if they were doing a jigsaw puzzle. So using these blocks, the learners were able to build a series of different shaped objects on the tablets provided and explore how the different shapes fitted together. They also wrote their names in 3D.

 But Scratch also has tools for creating interactive stories and so the learners were asked to create their own characters. They likewise recorded voices for them, resized them and got them to move in different directions, before three characters were chosen to take part in a race.

But the Tech Team also played a number of less technical games with the students too. For example, there were memory games with playing cards and dice games where members threw two of them and learners had to add the numbers together in their heads in a bid to boost their mental dexterity.

 

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