South African Students Learning Through Dance Central

Kinect is helping kids get into their lessons in a remote region of South Africa

South Africa has eleven official languages, of which English is just one, yet English is used in many of the country’s schools for educational purposes. This creates a challenge for students that primarily speak one of the 10 other tongues. To help alleviate the issue, Microsoft is testing out the use of Kinect at Lakeside Park Primary School in the Vryheid district of South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province.

In the trial program, eight teachers have been trained to use the Xbox 360 with Kinect, along with games that involve English. From a video released, the games appear to be those such as Dance Central and Kinectimals, rather than new types of purely educational software.

However, teachers are enthusiastic about the skills children have been acquiring from the games. “Shy learners, who take months to speak up in class in their mother tongue – let alone in English, were already shouting out to classmates to ‘jump’ and ‘duck’ with no inhibition,” the school’s deputy principal said.

Others involved with the program praise Kinect because of how it enables kids to naturally understand how to play. Lakeside’s teachers say that kids using the device are having fun while learning literary skills and also getting used to technology. For kids from impoverished backgrounds, this is technology that might not be experienced otherwise.

Microsoft believes that interactive schooling is the “wave of the future,” and allows for a form of equality in education. The program mirrors Nintendo and Sony’s efforts to put their consoles into schools as learning tools, so expect to see more and more gaming systems pop up in homeroom over the next decade.

And yeah, it’s a pretty odd coincidence that the program is taking place in an area called KwaZulu-Natal, when Kinect’s codename was Project Natal.

Source: XboxGaming, via Joystiq

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