Tech Era Works with Melton Fellows to Solve 3:1 Student-Computer ratio in Rural Schools in Ghana

Posted on Posted in Events, Tech, Tech-Era Team

Tech-Era participated in the 2017 Melton Foundation Global Citizenship Conference in Ghana under the theme “What is the role of a global citizen in a world that is in flux?”

Ashesi University College hosted this year’s Global Citizenship Conference and Tech-Era was privileged to partake in its two-day design thinking session. These sessions were aimed at enhancing the strategies and schemes of the organization through design-thinking methods. The sessions were headed by David Schrade and Miriam Yasbay, both from The HPI School of Design-Thinking in Germany, as well as Dr. Gordon Adomdza who is the head of the Design-thinking department in Ashesi.

Tech-Era was represented by four of its members; Derick Omari (President), Ronald Nettey, Sasha Ofori and Richelle Yirenkyi. They worked with Melton fellows who, prior to the event, chose to work with Tech-Era during the conference. The idea was to work with various design-thinking approaches and devise an appropriate solution to solve the challenge.

Problem:

The Challenge was to design an easy-access module for Information Communications Technology competency building.

 

Background:

The quality of education in Ghana continues to be a major problem within the country. One of the weakest pillars is how Information Communications Technology is approached especially in rural schools in Ghana. Many schools are far behind in ICT because they have no teachers. The few with technologically-competent teachers barely have enough resources for their ICT lessons and as a result, lessons are much more theoretical than practical. Very few schools in rural areas are privileged enough to have both resources-mostly donations from organizations and philanthropists-and qualified teachers. Even the few well-to-do schools have a student computer ratio that gets as low as 3:1 (based on our experience in the field for the past 2 years as an organization). Our challenge, therefore, was to simply design a module that would improve the quality of IT education in Ghana under these circumstances.

Four students of Fedility Juvinile School in Berekuso, all participants of the currently running Tech-Era Tech module arrived with their ICT teacher to demonstrate a typical class session in their school.

The team made observations and then interviewed the students and the teacher. Interviews were conducted to find out the various challenges the students and teacher encountered in the simulation.

The Melton foundation is a group of fellows with a passion to nurture and enhance global citizenship. These fellows work together, across the world, with other organizations to solve the challenges of an integrated world.

After going through the card sorting process, the team observed several challenges from the students about:

  1. Not having enough time on the computer
  2. An inability to follow what was going on in class due to a general disinterest in the course and a lack of understanding.

Working with the Point of View (POV) statement developed for the student, the team thought through approaches that will incorporate the students’ interests into their IT lessons to make learning engaging and more effective.

Solution:

For a discussion centered on the identified problem, the team split into two groups and proposed 2 different solutions:

  1. A thematic IT curriculum that will fall in line with the general interests of the students.
  2. An emphasis on the setting and structure of the class for effective learning and teaching experiences-with a proposition that students be routinely tasked with roles that would encourage student participation and that an ample amount of time be allocated for Student-Computer interactions. Teamwork would be encouraged and everyone would be required to pay attention. A few of the roles were drafted:
    1. Operator (Main user of the computer)
    2. Journal (Notes taker)
    3. Administrator(Supervisor).

The students would be expected to take turns and assume their respective roles in each class so that everyone gets a hands-on interaction with the computer.

The Tech Era team believes that co-creation with Melton fellows was beneficial and productive, and they are looking forward to developing the proposed module into a fully-fledged curriculum that will be implemented in schools in rural Ghana to improve the quality of IT education. The organization feels empowered to push for its dream of reaching out to about 4000 students in 3 years.

Tech Era extends its thanks to the Melton team who volunteered to help Tech Era dig deeper into finding a solution to this problem.

We also want to acknowledge Alafia Stewart, the mentor for this project whose immense knowledge in education and curriculum-building guided the team.

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