Harnessing the Power of Digital Technology for Education in Ghana

Information Communication
Technology (ICT) can be a great
enabler of learning when used rightly.
For this to happen, both teachers and
students must be adept at handling
all kinds of gadgets and software.
Ghana has a lot of promise in the
digital education space, but a lot
remains to be done to bring our level
up to speed with global standards.
My post explores five ways through
which technology can be applied to
enhance learning in Ghana.
Use of Tech in Classroom
A skilled teacher can apply
technology in her classroom in many
ways. She can run her lessons using
PowerPoint or an open source
alternative. This automatically allows
for the integration of pictures, videos
and other multimedia. Use of
multimedia content increases the
attention of students as their senses
are fully engaged. The chalk or
marker board would still be used for
sketches, annotations and other
classroom activities. Of course
teachers in a typical Ghanaian school
may not have access to a projector
but it is possible in this age of
proliferation of mobile devices to
take initiative to get relevant images
and videos on a smartphone and
tablet that students can watch to
enhance their understanding. A
student may have the challenge of
understanding the chemical
principles behind the cleansing
action of a detergent, but would
easily pick up the concepts when
shown a YouTube video of the
process. I used this method to great
effect.
Content Creation
There is no gainsaying that access to
the Internet opens up a wealth of
information for the Ghanaian learner.
That said, it is often asked whether
the kind of content currently online is
relevant to our students and pupils. I
would say not always. Inability of
students to relate to the information
they come across on the Internet is a
barrier to their full understanding of
concepts. Also, there is almost zero
content available for certain subjects
like Ghanaian languages. Teams of
teachers and students can work
together to address the dearth in
local educational content problem.
This creates a collaborative learning
atmosphere that fosters development
of critical skills such as creativity,
teamwork, leadership and
communication.
App Development
The Ghanaian developer community
must play their part in improving
educational standards in the country.
Advancements in computing and
software development has resulted in
the abundance of many easily
accessible yet powerful open source
platforms, that can be used to create
educational web and mobile
applications relevant to Ghanaian
school children. Therefore,
technologists need to work with
teachers to digitize notes and test
questions, and repackage them into
stimulating content that students can
easily interact with and learn from.
Growth in the use of educational
technologies in Ghana would in the
long run profit software developers.
However, their involvement in the
sector should not be seen with
purely as a business opportunity but
as a social crusade as well. We need
to see more projects like Paasco
Africa spring up and make a
difference to learners.
Student Learning Activities
The effectiveness of ICT in education
is enhanced when use of relevant
tools is integrated into student
learning activities. Students can
explore topics such as Body Mass
Index (BMI) and graphs with
spreadsheet software, allowing them
to develop computing skills
alongside subject-specific
knowledge. Tasking students to
deliver assignments through
presentations and email enable them
to pick up key work-study-life
communication skills needed to
thrive in the 21st century. One may
think my point is basic, but a student
once scanned a handwritten
assignment and sent it to my inbox
when I asked them to submit a group
work electronically. While such a
behaviour is excusable at the pre-
tertiary level, the reaction would have
been totally different at an institution
of higher learning. My point is that
we need to create the platform for the
young ones to make all the mistakes
now, rather than later, when much is
at stake.
Creating a Web of Learning
Social media has become a reality of
our modern existence as a species.
Many students are distracted from
their studies when they spend
endless hours online connecting with
their friends on Twitter or Facebook.
But, this situation can be turned
around through well thought out
strategy. We can capitalise on the
students’ interest and engagement
on these platforms to serve them
with educational content. This ties in
with some of the points raised above.
Imagine the level of excitement and
the amount of learning students will
experience if they were working on a
YouTube video project for class
assignment. Further teachers can use
Facebook groups (such as Global
Lab Ghana, Google + hangouts and
Twitter hashtags to take class
discussions beyond the classroom.
This way students benefit from the
insights of their colleagues and other
experts from across the world. They
also get to analyse issues in a more
relaxed environment as compared to
the traditional Ghanaian classroom
setting. This hopefully will deepen
their understanding and engender
application.
Conclusion
We cannot hide our heads under the
sand like ostriches in the information
age. Ghanaian teachers need to
embrace digital tools for teaching
and content creation. App developers
need to pay more attention to the
needs of the educational sector and
students must be encouraged to
harness ICT to aid their learning. The
steps we take today, through policy
formulation and effective
implementation, will inform how well
our educational sector will work
some few years down the line.
This post is part of Blu’s LiveBlu
Forum, a social commentary on
work-life balance in Ghana. Join the
discussion at: http://
blughana.wordpress.com/ #LiveBlu #
BeLieveUme or sign up here to try
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