1 Universidad Tecnológica de la Mixteca (MEXICO)
2 Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (MEXICO)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2014 Proceedings
Publication year: 2014
Pages: 153-162
ISBN: 978-84-616-8412-0
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 8th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 10-12 March, 2014
Location: Valencia, Spain
This paper evaluates the case for using computer supported collaborative learning to supplement traditional primary education in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. While Oaxaca has a rich cultural heritage and proud history, the level of achievement for primary school children is well below the national average. This can be attributed to a number of factors such as the amount of time children spend outside of class due to industrial action, the incompatibility of western teaching models to traditional Mesoamerican learning patterns, and practical considerations such as language and geographic isolation. The research presented considers how these problems might be alleviated by computer supported learning, and specifically educational videogames.

Undoubtedly the problems of the Oaxacan education system, as with the problems of any educational system, are rooted in larger social and economic issues. Family structures in Oaxaca are disrupted due high rates of migration and Oaxaca is ranked as the third worst state in Mexico in terms of housing and education. Primary education is particularly problematic with 80% of Oaxacan municipalities failing to reach minimum requirements set by the Mexican government. Only 5% of the indigenous majority attains a grade beyond primary school level and over 21% of the overall state population is illiterate. These problems are compounded by on ongoing dispute between Oaxaca’s powerful teaching unions and the federal government. As a result it is not uncommon for children to lose weeks or months of education every year. This exacerbates existing social problems by creating a gap in education between publicly educated children and their privately educated peers.

There are a number of factors that suggest that collaborative learning could be part of a realistic solution to these problems. One reason is that children can practice collaborative learning outside of school. Collaborative video-games are also very economic when we consider the costs associated with other methods. Another less obvious reason is the children’s natural preference for collaborative learning. Almost half of Oaxaca’s population is indigenous with the other half predominantly mixed and studies have shown that Mesoamerican peoples have a cultural disposition to collaborative learning. This is most likely due to the fact that indigenous people tend to have larger families and traditionally the children learn together while the parents work.

In order to test our ideas regarding the effectiveness of collaborative learning we developed and evaluated a series of three basic collaborative games designed to develop mathematics, language and reading skills. Sixteen groups of three children from a rural school in the Mixtec region in the north of Oaxaca were tested before and after playing the games, observed during gaming sessions and interviewed to assess the impact of the games on their learning. Our results were positive showing that educational video-games can be used to promote learning and develop team working skills as well as directly achieving learning objectives in certain subjects. Most importantly, the children were animated by the games and felt encouraged to further develop their learning at home or on their return to school. This further indicates that collaborative games of this type are indeed likely to be a useful supplement to traditional primary education in Oaxaca.
Educational Video-games, Collaborative learning.