Personal and Ubiquitous Computing

, Volume 22, Issue 2, pp 391–407 | Cite as

Gamification for development: a case of collaborative learning in Sri Lankan primary schools

  • Thilina Halloluwa
  • Dhaval Vyas
  • Hakim Usoof
  • K. P. Hewagamage
Original Article


Mobile applications and gamification approaches have the potential to provide a better learning experience to children. However, these practices are rarely applied in the developing world. This paper presents a case study of a tablet-based application designed for primary school students in rural Sri Lanka for learning mathematics. In contrast to the previous studies done in developing countries, we carried out an in situ field study over 2 weeks with grade three students (8-year-olds) in two different under-resourced government schools. A comparison study was performed between students who learned through the traditional teaching methods and the ones who learned through the gamified tablet application. Using the post-colonial computing perspective, we report how some of the assumptions commonly applied in the developed countries do not work in a developing country such as Sri Lanka and how the introduction of gamified tablet applications afforded an environment that defied certain cultural norms making students feel comfortable around the teacher. We also observed the traditional teacher-centric learning transforming into a balanced mix of student-centric learning where students took ownership of their learning.


Human computer interaction Gamification ICT4D Collaboration learning Interaction design for children 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Ltd. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Queensland University of Technology (QUT)BrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.University of Colombo School of ComputingColomboSri Lanka

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