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The Learning Innovation Design Lab is a not-for-profit initiative launched by Formula D interactive in 2014.

The Learning Innovation Design Lab is a not-for-profit initiative launched by Formula D interactive in 2014 with the goal of bringing together designers, technology partners, learners and teachers, to find solutions to problems within the context of formal education. One of the projects launched by the Learning Innovation Design Lab is Game Lab.

Students enjoying learning game design at Game Lab

Game Lab is an 8-week long, after-school program that teaches children how to design, develop and program their own video games using an online tool called Scratch. To some, choosing to teach video game design may seem like an out of the box idea, but the process reinforces educational outcomes and helps the students develop their English and storytelling skills, mathematics and logic competencies and improves social awareness and other interpersonal skills. The project is also designed to provide students with the opportunity to get comfortable with technology and, more specifically, the concepts and approaches to coding, to prepare them for careers in an ever more technology-reliant and engaged world.

This year saw the Game Lab program kick-off its fourth year with 45 previously disadvantaged pupils from the Hout Bay High School and Silikamva High school signed up to participate. Being able to expand the initiative to two high schools was largely due to the funding received from The Learning Trust.

“The response to the course has been awesome and the learners are very excited about the program,” Mr Julius, the principal at Hout Bay High School tells us. “What we would really like to do is be able to give more students the opportunity to join and have more Game Lab classes during the week.”

The innovative program is facilitated by two tech-savvy Youth from Hout Bay, Imizamu Yetu. Lelothando Bokuva and Lwazi Sifo find it rewarding to pass on their knowledge to disadvantaged kids. But they also see it as an opportunity for their own career:

“I’m especially enjoying teaching coding,” Lwazi explains. “And the students really enjoy it even though they sometimes find it quite challenging.”

“Teaching students has given me a lot of self-confidence,” Lelothando adds, “I definitely see that the skills I’ve gained working as a tutor for Game Lab program will be useful for my career in future, especially as I plan on entering the IT profession.”
Having a reliable internet connect is essential to the success of the Game Lab project and the lack of a stable connection at Silikamva has been a significant hurdle. An intermittent internet connection has in the past meant that classes have been delayed or have had to be rescheduled. The lack of a dedicated IT Facilitator has also meant many technical difficulties for the Learning Innovation Design Lab. This year, however, the team plans to equip the Game Lab facilitators with proper ICT training to support the project.

“In the past, Game Lab students have reported improvements while teachers and school administrators have commented on the learners’ confidence boost,” says Rosa. “We’re sure that this year will be no different and we’re looking forward to seeing what each student produces.”

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