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Digital games contribute to HIV education in Uganda

06 February 2013 University of Eastern Finland

Computer games, virtual classroom with a discussion forum and video drama can be integrated in a common learning environment for teaching teenage children. This pedagogical approach has demonstrated the significance of using a variety of learning objects to achieve a common educational goal.

In his PhD research, Mr Joseph Kizito Bada from Makerere University Business School, Kampala Uganda, designed computer games and a virtual classroom using pedagogical, cognitive and technological criteria. The learning environment (NetAIDS) consisted of the learning objects that Mr Bada designed with and experimented in a number of Ugandan schools for teaching HIV/AIDS basic facts and preventive measures.

The acceptance rate of NetAIDS among school children was 80%. The researcher performed empirical testing on the key research variables and established that the use of computer games for HIV/AIDS education positively influenced the learning outcome. The virtual classroom with discussion forum positively influenced the learning process which in turn influenced the learning outcome. Half of the participants who used NetAIDS for HIV/AIDS education preferred computer games for lessons while the other half preferred virtual classroom with discussion forum. Therefore, integration of different learning objects in a common digital environment offers a variety of learning opportunities for the learners to freely choose what is more appropriate to each to learn something new. A new pedagogical approach (GASONEL) for integrating digital learning objects in a common environment with one educational goal was formulated with the corresponding software design method for developing similar digital environments.
NetAIDS has shown the importance of using digital learning objects for HIV/AIDS education in Uganda; the same approach can be used in other countries as educational tool for educating school children about HIV/AIDS preventive measures or other health-related problems.

HIV/AIDS epidemic has affected mankind in the last three decades with negative impact on development: it has claimed more than 30 million lives (WHO, 2010); increased the number of orphans to about 16 million (UNAIDS, 2010); weakened institutions by destroying the labor force; and increased expenditure of US$ 24 billion on countries by 2015 for fighting the epidemic (UNAIDS, World AIDS Day Report, 2012). At the present there is no known cure for the disease. Education has been described as social vaccine for HIV/AIDS prevention.

This research was completed in the International Multi-disciplinary PhD in Education Technology (impdet.org) programme, and Mr Bada majored in computer science. Impdet.org is run by the School of Computing, Faculty of Science and Forestry, University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu Campus. Part of the research was funded by UNESCO and Uganda Communications Commission (UCC).

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