This is part of a series of Educator in Tech profiles, where we capture and share inspirational journeys and words of advice from educators who teach coding or use it to engage students in their classroom.
In Yogyakarta, a city renowned for being the centre of education in Indonesia, there is a growing awareness of the benefits of Computer Science education. Elementary school teacher Muhammad Zulham is helping to pave the way for young Indonesians to learn computing skills and discover their passion for technology, despite infrastructure and resource issues.
“Limited Internet connectivity is a challenge most of us face on a daily basis. Also, many schools in Yogyakarta are lagging behind in terms of technology resources, or are not adequately equipped to offer Computer Science education. Even today, our students often have to take turns using the computers in the computer lab,” explained Zulham.
Undeterred, the intrepid Computer Science teacher is constantly exploring how new technology and coding platforms such as Kodu Game Lab can be used to keep his students engaged. His efforts to adopt technology-enabled teaching methods were recognised at this year’s Microsoft E2 Global Educator Exchange, where he was a recipient of an “Innovative Teacher” Award.
Through the use of Kodu Game Lab, Zulham aims to encourage more young people to use their imaginations to learn basic coding and create their own games.
“There is a wide range of educational programming platforms and software resources that educators can use to enrich learning activities. I chose Kodu Game Lab because it offers a highly visual approach for young people to use their imaginations to create their own virtual worlds, without having to learn complicated coding concepts,” Zulham said.
His lessons at Sedayu 1 Junior High School are often a hive of activity, and it is not uncommon to see students huddled in front of computer screens learning how to create their own games. How does he get them to be so involved?
“I created a learning initiative called Gallery Walk, aimed at increasing participation among the children,” Zulham explained. “Students are first divided into groups. For a period of time, one group will exhibit their game projects in a booth, while the other groups of students ask questions relating to their own ideas to help hone their plans. What makes this interesting is that, to be part of Gallery Walk, students are required to use different kinds of technology, including smartphones, to access the relevant information on the Internet to build their games.”
Thanks to Gallery Walk, students are more exposed to technology, and are better acquainted with the tools that can help enhance their learning experience.
Buoyed by this success, Zulham aims to introduce more opportunities for students to learn basic programming in a fun and engaging setting. “The key is for young people to enjoy the process of creating their own games with simple algorithms. Once they realise how these simple lines of code are the building blocks of games coding, they will gain the confidence and curiosity to explore more of what Computer Science has to offer.”