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Communication and Information Sector's news service

New virtual reality-based learning approach in Africa

20-06-2006 (Addis Ababa/Pretoria)
UNESCO, together with the Naledi3d Factory of South Africa has recently embarked on a new collaborative project to take the concept of the Interactive3d Learning Object to a more integrated level.
The Interactive-3d Learning Object is a Virtual Reality-based learning object that conveys a specific item of knowledge and can be reused in different learning contexts. They are built in such a way that end-users can also change language elements (text or audio) without using the original VR authoring tool. In this way, Interactive-3d Learning Objects can be easily modified to suit local needs, which makes the material more appropriate and acceptable to intended end-user communities.

This new initiative has grown out of earlier projects where, for example, members of the RINAF Virtual Multimedia Academy (VMA) - Ethiopia, Senegal, Sudan, South Africa and Mozambique -participated in the development of water-themed CD-ROMS. A recent UNESCO-funded workshop held in Pretoria looked at the creation of VR-based applications in the African learning context; and focused on the localization of Interactive3d Learning Objects to suit and address local needs.

This expanded group - the Workshop also included members from Zimbabwe and Uganda - now form an embryonic network that is able to facilitate the localization of Interactive3d Learning Objects and their dissemination through for example community multimedia centres and schools.

As one of the early activities in this project, the concept of Interactive3d Learning Objects and the Country network was recently presented at the eLearning in Africa Conference held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in late May 2006. One exciting outcome is that a number of people want to join the growing County network- including from Kenya, Somalia and Tanzania.

Over recent years it has become increasingly obvious that text-based communication poses significant stumbling blocks to unambiguous communication. More so when language and literacy pose major threats to training in Africa. Over the last five years, virtual reality has made strong inroads in the transfer of information and knowledge through the concept of the “Interactive-3d Learning Object”, recently developed by the Naledi3d Factory.

At first, it may appear hard to see the relevance of VR-based learning to community development. However, “because of its intensely visual, interactive and engaging nature”, says Dave Lockwood of the Naledi3d Factory “an interactive 3D simulation creates an experience that is as close to reality as one can currently get. It engages with the highly visual nature of the human brain and this enhances the learning process by a significant order of magnitude, which ironically is exactly what we try to achieve in communities where the biggest gaps between the so-called Information-poor and the Information-rich exist”.
New virtual reality-based learning approach in Africa How to build a Pit Latrine - translated into French (Senegal); Portuguese and Shangaan (Mozambique)
Related themes/countries

      · ICT in Education: News Archives 2006
      · Africa: News Archive 2006
      · South Africa: News Archives 2006
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