World AIDS Day: Educational Breakthrough

By Aman
Cross-posted with permission from Technology, Health & Development

Tomorrow is World AIDS Day and instead of “barraging you with [another set of] statistics, gruesome photos, or heart-wrenching stories” (quote credit to Mr. Casnocaha), I want to alert you to something we prefer here – solutions, problem solving, technology, and creative thinking. Piya Sorcar, a doctoral student in Stanford’s Learning, Sciences & Technology Design program has used her considerable skills to figure out how to reach the minds of children in devleoping countries when it comes to HIV/AIDS education.

Incorporating a variety of techniques from several disciplines Piya has generated an animation based educational technique and curriculum, the first of its kind in this area. The first results from this groundbreaking technique are in and they have been outstanding. The indefatigable Sorcar has plans to disseminate the educational curriculum free to schools and other organizations. She also has plans to launch the animation on social networking sites such as Orkut (very popular in some developing countries) and Facebook.

This educational technique and curriculum has taken over 2 years to develop and as far as we know no one else is using this animation based method. This work is truly inspirational, overcomes various methodological barriers and just as importantly political barriers (especailly in countries where sex education is banned). The early results indicate tremendous success. I highly encourage you to read the full story below and visit the website where the animation can be viewed: http://www.interactiveteachingaids.org/

We previously covered Piya Sorcar’s work in a post last year and it has been the most read post on this blog with over 1700 visits. You can view that here for further background information.

Lasly, there is much more to say about Piya’s work which we will save for another post. I have placed some links about World AIDS Day below this entry and as a side note – even rock group Queen is getting into the action with their first new recording in a decade to mark the event.

Enjoy!:

Doctoral student creates groundbreaking animation to teach HIV/AIDS prevention in developing countries

To combat the stigma associated with discussing HIV/AIDS and sexual practices in India and other developing countries, doctoral student Piya Sorcar has developed a groundbreaking animation-based curriculum to teach HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention in a culturally sensitive manner to young adults around the world.

Sorcar’s project, Interactive Teaching AIDS, is already being used in several countries…The animation emphasizes the biology of HIV/AIDS, presenting a storyline with a dialogue between a curious student and a friendly yet authoritative cartoon “doctor” on the biological facts about HIV,its spread, and its prevention.

“What’s groundbreaking is that she’s shown that we can inform people about AIDS while respecting the culture,” said Communications Prof. Clifford Nass, an advisor to Sorcar’s Ph.D. project. “That’s an enormous accomplishment.”

“The result was Interactive Teaching AIDS, an animation-based tutorial featuring a friendly cartoon doctor and patient who guide participants through the biological aspects of AIDS transmission. The tutorial is available online and on a CD.”

RESULTS

A recent study of the application in India by Sorcar with 423 students in private schools and colleges in North India, showed significant gains in learning and retention levels after interacting with the 20-minute animated tutorial. Prior to testing, only 65% knew that HIV was not spread through coughing; after the tutorial, this percentage increased to 94%. Students stated that they were comfortable learning from the tool, and more than 90% said they learned more about HIV/AIDS through the animated tutorial than any other communication method such as television or school. One month after initial exposure to the tutorial, students were rapidly seeking and educating others about HIV/AIDS prevention through their networks, with nearly 90% sharing information they learned from the tutorial with someone else.

Full story and above sources from here and here

More links:CNN Student Learning Activity, link

MTV and KFF Partnership, link

NPR story, link

Reuters article, link