App makes learning maths fun
Via Afrika recently launched its first Tabtor Maths Centre, making it Africa’s first high-tech maths tuition centre
Opened officially at the Cobble Walk Shopping Centre in Cape Town last month by Western Cape Education MEC Debbie Schäfer, the Tabtor Maths Centre offers high quality maths tuition at a fraction of the cost of a private tutor. Developed in India and the US, the centre uses tablets and a personalised maths tuition programme to teach maths to learners.
Schäfer said they are focusing on information and communications technology (ICT) because it is a “game changer”. She said the centre will combine maths and ICT and that “when children are able to learn maths on a tablet, it’s a lot more fun”. She added the centre also has “the benefits of the diagnostic aspect to it”.
Said Schäfer: “This has a lot of possibilities for improving our maths, which is desperately needed in our economy. There are so many jobs nowadays that we need in our country where maths is a prerequisite … I always say ‘education should be fun’, and I think this is a fun way of learning maths and providing the teacher with a really valuable tool to identify where the gaps are.”
the Teacher caught up with Micheal Goodman, group content manager at Via Afrika, to find out more about the centre and why the company is so confident the initiative has the potential to transform maths teaching and learning in South Africa.
What grade(s) is this targeted at?
The centre offers learners without a tablet access to Via Afrika Tabtor Maths, a personalised maths tuition programme for grades R to seven. The programme is already available to anyone with a tablet through Android and Apple app stores. With over 7 500 worksheets on offer, the programme is thoroughly aligned to the CAPS curriculum. This means it can easily be integrated into what teachers teach to improve the in-school maths results of learners.
With the centre now officially opened, how and when is it going to start operating?
The centre has already begun operating. It is open Monday to Friday from 12pm to 6pm, and on Saturdays between 8.30am and 1pm. Each learner on the programme is matched to a dedicated online tutor through the Tabtor app. Tutors mark assignments and then assign additional worksheets, which help each learner with the maths concepts they are struggling with. An expert maths teacher is on hand at our first centre to guide each learner through using the Tabtor Maths programme.
How can schools, particularly those based in the impoverished communities, benefit from this initiative?
At R540 per child per month for two 30-minute sessions per week, the centre is relatively affordable compared to the cost of a private tutor, which can run into thousands of rands per hour. Yet it offers better quality individualised maths tuition because of the power of the data analysis that the technology provides the tutor. The centre also removes the need for learners to own a tablet to access the maths programme. We are looking to partner with entrepreneurial franchisees to make more centres available, within reach of impoverished communities.
Of all apps out there, what specifically made a strong case for Via Afrika to bring Tabtor to the South African school environment?
The Tabtor Maths app is different in that it uses gamification elements to motivate the learners, providing a new way to experience maths. The Active Replay Technology that allows the tutor to watch the learner working through a problem in real time, but asynchronously, helps the tutor spot problem areas as if the tutor were looking over the child’s shoulder. This knowledge empowers the tutors to assign worksheets, which include tutorial videos, to help each learner improve their knowledge and confidence in tackling the maths concepts that they are specifically struggling with. In this way, each child can catch up with the maths that they need to, rather than following a lock-step tuition method.
Can you share some of the innovative features of the app and the value they will add to children’s learning experiences?
Another of the more noteworthy features of the Tabtor Maths app is the information it provides parents. Each parent receives weekly detailed feedback on their child’s performance and feedback. This allows parents to become more involved in the maths learning experience of their children. In addition, the parents’ app provides instant information on what their child is doing, and what feedback the tutor has provided.