Technological Institute of the Philippines

Knowledge Channel and T.I.P. turn gaming into mathematics learning platform

While mathematics is one of the courses necessary for students to be globally competitive, many young Filipinos fear it and find it exceedingly difficult. In a local study conducted to assess the mathematics competency of Grade 8 students, the students scored just 75.72% in open-ended problem-solving tests and 74.08% in multiple choice tests. The results indicate that the students possess only the minimum knowledge of mathematical concepts, and that they struggle to understand and acquire fundamental mathematical knowledge. Moreover, the results of the National Achievement Test show that average mathematics grades for elementary students have dropped as low as 75% over the years.

According to the Department of Science and Technology, this mathematics deficiency among elementary students can be attributed to a challenging learning environment, particularly in public schools. Up to 4-million Filipino students a year face factors like classroom congestion, with a student-teacher ratio that can reach up to 100:1 per room. Overloaded classes let students drift off as teachers struggle to attend to their individual learning needs. Worse, the overcrowdedness cannot facilitate the inquiry- and peer-based learning necessary to develop a deeper appreciation of mathematics.

This is disastrous for students as mathematics education goes just beyond numbers. It teaches critical skills such as problem solving, analytics, logic, creative thinking, solution generation, and decision making, all of which serve as foundations for future learning. Without these soft skills, the educational and career opportunities of Filipino youth, as well as their ability to function in and contribute to society, are drastically hindered, especially in today’s increasingly digital and technological landscape.

Acknowledging the need to make mathematics more appealing to the youth, Knowledge Channel created MathDali, a series of 20-minute videos that teach grade school mathematics in a fun and practical way. MathDali features math applied to everyday life to inspire learning among its viewers in the K-12 age group. It is available through Knowledge Channel’s television and online platforms, and is distributed to its network of over 6,000 Philippine public schools and community learning centers.

Seeking to further supplement MathDali and to make learning mathematics easier, enjoyable, and more attractive to students, Knowledge Channel looked to leverage on the appeal of technology to turn gaming into a valid platform for learning. To do so, Knowledge Channel partnered with the Technological Institute of the Philippines (T.I.P.) to produce Mathdali-branded mobile- and browser-based educational games for their TV programming and sponsored schools. Initially targeting Grade 4 students, Knowledge Channel expanded the partnership’s scope to include the Grade 5 curriculum in an effort to remain relevant, sustain student interest, and equip the students with the necessary skills in higher grade mathematics. Students from T.I.P. Quezon City and Manila’s College of Information Technology Education (CITE) create the games through the guidance and mentorship of the CITE professors. Almost 200 T.I.P. students and faculty members have been part of the project to date, using the industry-standard Unity2D game development software in creating over 100 games for the Android and browser platforms.

The games created and those currently undergoing development tackle key topics taught in the current elementary school curricula as identified by Knowledge Channel. The T.I.P. developers employ various strategies to ensure that their outputs can effectively teach mathematics to Grade 4 and Grade 5 students. One of the techniques they employ is lessening the amount of text in the games, replacing them with images of familiar objects when possible. Combined with vividly colored user interfaces, this image-based environment is both engaging and facilitates better recall among children.

These Mathdali-branded games are tested by excited grade school teachers and even more excited grade-schoolers. Not only do the students thoroughly enjoy them, the scoring system built into the games also reveal that the students want to perform better each time, unconsciously honing their mathematical skills in the process. Moreover, the games encourage friendly-competition among the students, transforming them from passive viewers to active learners, and fostering within them a healthy attitude towards mathematics. Likewise, Knowledge Channel was very impressed with the fruits of their partnership with T.I.P., stating that the quality of the games and the level of creativity put into them were beyond what they requested.

Knowledge Channel is just one of the many partners that benefit from T.I.P. TechnoCoRe, the institution’s program on Student Technopreneurship and Industry-Academe Collaborative Applied Research. As an educational model, T.I.P. TechnoCoRe effectively bridges industry and academe by providing its partners access to students from internationally-accredited programs and highly competent faculty researchers, all working together to address societal issues and industry problems with effective, value-laden solutions. This institutional thrust develops T.I.P. students and faculty members into valuable technopreneurs and innovators for the Philippines, while at the same time assisting industry partners towards the attainment of their objectives and goals.