Speaking of games to educate about the UN Millennium Development Goals, here’s an example of a Jamaican game that relates to Goal 2 "Achieve Universal Primary School Education." UNESCO sends out news about an innovative computer program in Jamaica called "Easy Skanking" that combines computer gaming and reggae music to teach literacy to young people and adults, even those with no prior exposure to computers.
While not necessarily $100 laptop compatible, the program is designed to run on virtually an PC with speakers or headphones. There’s even a flash-based version that you can try out online.
The complete story from UNESCO after the jump…
Easy Skanking. Reggae and ICT to enhance literacy
called Easy Skanking an educational software with interactive literacy course
for young Jamaicans.
The project started in late 2004 with follow-up
January 2007. It was specially designed for
interactive literacy course targeting young Jamaican adolescents and adults,
between the ages of 14 to 35
The new computer software features a young animated man that speaks to the
students in simple words without the use of any jargon. A strong emphasis has
been made on positive reinforcements,
simplicity and fun. The interactive Literacy Book included in the software
features hundreds of photos of Jamaica
and songs from Bob Marley and other reggae and dancehall icons.
The student interface looks and feels like a game interface rich in sound
effects and Jamaican popular music. According to the developer of Easy
Skanking, Fabrice Menoyot, “Children in Jamaica know dozens of songs before
they are 5 years old. It’s fascinating to see the constant presence of music in
Jamaican life. Today’s technology has no problem dealing with music. I knew
from the start that Jamaicans would have no difficulties learning anything as
long as it’s jamming!”
Easy Skanking v1 offers an Editor interface that allows teachers to create any
interactive course, based on the model of the Literacy Book included. The
Editor can produce quickly and easily very attractive interactive lessons and
training courses that bring together music, video clips, sound effects, digital
pictures, animations and games. The Editor is extremely simple to use and comes
with an integrated help feature that talks to the user whenever it’s called.
The initial version comes on a regular computer CD that can run on any computer
with sound capability and a colour monitor. The program also works on local
network. An Internet version has been released and can be viewed on the
author’s website here. The
course can be done online but requires high speed Internet connection. The hope
is to allow the development and supervision of new educational courses and
programs nationwide, regionally and inter-regionally.
In Phase 2 of the project, the Literacy Book will be expanded to include
government forms such as driver license and passport applications, tax forms
and cultural sections about Jamaica and the West Indies, as well as computer
training rooms that teach anything from basic computer functions to installation
of memory chips, video cards, networking, Internet, e-mail and web surfing.
Students will also learn how to use mobile phones and send and receive Text
Messages. “This is a programme specially designed for Jamaicans. It’s full of
sound effects and music. It talks to you, even uses patois (Patois is the
Jamaican Creole) at times. There is nothing like this anywhere else!” explained
Mr. Menoyot. The software can however be easily customised to fit other
regions, cultures and languages.
The project was supported jointly by
UNESCO’s Education and Communication Information Sectors and was done within
the framework of the Education for All (EFA) Goal No. 4, Achieving a 50 per
cent improvement in levels of adult literacy by 2015, especially for women, and
equitable access to basic and continuing education for all adults as well
as UNESCO’s priority to use ICTs to Enhance Education Science and Culture.