M. Santally, Y.B. Rajabalee

University of Mauritius (MAURITIUS)
The Mauritius educational system is currently undergoing a number of changes with the introduction of ICT as a major driver for educational reforms and to improve the current teaching and learning landscape. Schools in Mauritius are being equipped with interactive whiteboards and computers but the reality is that without the right pedagogical approach and the right type of content, the expected outcomes will never be achieved.

This paper describes the conception in terms of design and development of a prototype story-telling cartoon that has the pedagogical objective to teach students of Standard III (age group 8-9 yrs) a simple lesson that plants need water and sunlight to grow. The original lesson is found in the students’ workbook where emphasis is laid on pictures and text. The original lesson has been converted into a story-telling script and implemented as an animated cartoon of about 5 minutes duration.

The research proposed in this project is inspired from the work of Dalacosta et al (2009) who used cartoon-styled application for the teaching of elementary science in Athens. Their target audience were students aged 10-11. Their research results provide evidence that the use of animated cartoons significantly increases the young students’ knowledge and understanding of specific science concepts, which are normally difficult to comprehend and often cause misconceptions to them.

However, Dalacosta et al. (2009) focused mainly on static cartoons and interactive animations for their research. In this project, the concept will be pushed further to include story-telling dynamic cartoons that will have a context and a scenario similar to a short movie. These will then be supplemented with learning games that will render the process similar to a recreational activity for the student, but which is in reality a learning activity taking place.

The research project in its broader sense therefore aims at the development of a set of pedagogical materials for the primary school curriculum using the cartoon-based story telling approach for students. The concepts of ‘Fun Learning’ will be explored as potential innovative teaching and learning methods that can bring about significant improvement in our educational system. We discuss the potential benefits that such an approach will bring and barriers to its successful implementation as a pedagogical method in the schools.