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Learning games stimulate thinking for students

Learning games stimulate thinking for students


Media statement by Nomonde Mbadi, Executive Director of Corporate Affairs

Ms Anisa Vahed has initiated the development of two learning games to stimulate students thinking. She lectures in the Department of Dental Technology at the Durban University of Technology. The two games are the Muscle Mania Multimedia Game and the Tooth Morphology Board Game.

The multi-media game is used to tutor Dental Technology students on the structural and functional anatomy of muscles of mastication or chewing and facial expression. The Tooth Morphology Board Game was developed to promote literacy and retaining with understanding the content area of Tooth Morphology, a discipline that requires a significant amount of memorization, recall, association and application.

Ms Vahed and her team commissioned IT budding specialist Chen Zheng to assist in the technical designing of the game. He is doing his second year of study in Information Technology at the Durban University of Technology. “It’s human nature for people to play games. The game makes learning interesting, easier and funnier,” says Zheng.

“We have a generation of students who learn theoretical concepts better by visual interpretation, especially when learning is taking placing in a fun yet effective gaming manner,” says Vahed. Seeing that the material for the subject was too theoretical for students to grasp and often resulted in rote learning, working with her team, she collaborated with Ms Parivah Khalili from the IT department who recommended that they work with Chen Zheng to develop the game. Ms Parivash Khalili and Mr Peter Rippon were instrumental in ensuring that the game was professionally developed.

Zheng says the game consists of scattered facial muscle pieces which students are expected to place in the right places on the face. As students play the game, he adds, they get to understand better where each muscle belongs in the human face. He continues saying students play the game until all muscles are placed in the right place. He believes that the advantage of creating a successful and exciting game for students is that “they understand muscle and I understand IT”. “People remember visual pieces, not words,” he says. He is thrilled that students enjoy and like the game. He says the game is in English but he is confident that it can be made in any language. Zheng hails from Yunnan Province in China and he is part of a pool of international students that DUT draws from different corners of the world. He is in South Africa to study.

Vahed has also been involved in creating the Tooth Morphology Board Game for first year students studying towards a National Diploma in Dental Technology. “The chief element of the board game is that the abstract content is merged with game characteristics and learners are able to repeat cycles within the game context, making them active participants in knowledge acquisition,” says Vahed.

Scholarly research papers on the two games have been presented at both national and international conferences. Ms Vahed was also invited to educate DUT staff on her games and she expresses her sincere gratitude to the person who was not only catalytic in motivating her to tread the path of game based teaching but challenged her educational philosophies, Mrs Delysia Timm without whom these games would have not been possible.

For more information, please contact Bhekani Dlamini on 031 373 2845 to facilitate the interview.