Using Technology to make Education impactful in Ghanaian school

Daniel Adjei, Managing Partner, Spint Consult Limited

In this current Fourth Industrial Revolution, technology will play a crucial role in nearly all aspects of our lives in Ghana whether we like it or otherwise. Research by the World Economic Forum estimates that 65% of children entering primary school will find themselves in occupations that today do not exist.

By 2020 it’s estimated there will be 1.5 million new digitized jobs across the globe. At the same time, 90% of organizations currently have an IT skills shortage, while 75% of educators and students feel there is a gap in their ability to meet the skills needs of the IT workforce. To prepare the talent needed for the digital economy, education must adapt as fast as the demand for IT skills is growing and evolving according to Dennis Frezzo of Consulting Engineer, Cisco.

The Ministry of Education and NetDragon Websoft Inc of China have signed a Memoranda of Understanding to develop a national experience centre for schools to benefit from the latest educational technology. The project will deploy and develop a smart classroom and school solution project in Ghana. This was contained in a statement from the Ghana Library Authority and copied to the Ghana News Agency in Accra. NetDragon will also roll out a pilot project in Ghana to introduce the smart learning programme primarily in government schools.This will include implementation of the Smart Classrooms and Smart Schools concept and setting up of a world-class ‘Experience Centre’ for Ghana, which will comprise a National Library, Conference Centre, training and workshop rooms, and recreational facilities.

According to Pano Savvidis the 6 top benefits of using technology in the classroom are:

Improves engagement

When technology is integrated into lessons, students are expected to be more interested in the subjects they are studying. Technology provides different opportunities to make learning more fun and enjoyable in terms of teaching same things in new ways. For instance, delivering teaching through gamification, taking students on virtual field trips and using other online learning resources. What is more, technology can encourage a more active participation in the learning process which can be hard to achieve through a traditional teaching environment.

Improves knowledge retention

Students who are engaged and interested in things they are studying, are expected to have a better knowledge retention. As mentioned before, technology can help to encourage active participation in the classroom which also is a very important factor for increased knowledge retention. Different forms of technology can be used to experiment with and decide what works best for students in terms of retaining their knowledge.

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Encourages individual learning

No one learns in the same way because of different learning styles and different abilities. Technology provides great opportunities for making learning more effective for everyone with different needs. For example, students can learn at their own speed, review difficult concepts or skip ahead if they need to. What is more, technology can provide more opportunities for struggling or disabled students. Access to the Internet gives students access to a broad range of resources to conduct research in different ways, which in turn can increase the engagement.

Encourages collaboration

Students can practice collaboration skills by getting involved in different online activities. For instance, working on different projects by collaborating with others on forums or by sharing documents on their virtual learning environments. Technology can encourage collaboration with students in the same classroom, same school and even with other classrooms around the world.

Students can learn useful life skills through technology

By using technology in the classroom, both teachers and students can develop skills essential for the 21st century. Students can gain the skills they will need to be successful in the future. Modern learning is about collaborating with others, solving complex problems, critical thinking, developing different forms of communication and leadership skills, and improving motivation and productivity. What is more, technology can help develop many practical skills, including creating presentations, learning to differentiate reliable from unreliable sources on the Internet, maintaining proper online etiquette, and writing emails. These are very important skills that can be developed in the classroom.

Benefits for teachers

With countless online resources, technology can help improve teaching. Teachers can use different apps or trusted online resources to enhance the traditional ways of teaching and to keep students more engaged. Virtual lesson plans, grading software and online assessments can help teachers save a lot time. This valuable time can be used for working with students who are struggling. What is more, having virtual learning environments in schools enhances collaboration and knowledge sharing between teachers.

While smaller schools and class sizes are always desired, technology cannot do that physically. However, technology can be a “force multiplier” for the teacher. Instead of the teacher being the only source of help in a classroom, students can access web sites, online tutorials, and more to assist them. Education doesn’t stop at the end of the school day because students have access to teachers, resources, and assignments via the web and access these resources at any time. Students can also get help and tutoring at any time, whether from the teacher via email or online collaboration, or from a help web site.

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Parental involvement is another factor that can increase student achievement. Most parents these days have extremely busy schedules, work different hours, and can’t always help their child with homework or come to school for conferences. Technology can help. Parents can go to a class website and see what their child is working on, they can contact teachers via email and web sites, and they can even check their child’s attendance and grades through online systems. They can also talk to their children from work via email and instant messaging.

David Andrade gives the following as the way forward to build the future leader today; Inquiry based projects are another way to get students to think rather than memorize. These group projects also help students build important skills such as communications, team work, critical thinking and problem solving. Technology can help with these projects and skills. Students can create things such as web sites, blogs, and multimedia presentations as part of their project. They can use the web for research and as a resource. They can connect with students at other schools and do collaborative work with them. They also learn technology skills while doing these projects.

Money is always an issue in education and technology can help. Virtual field trips, electronic forms instead of paper, email instead of printed memo’s, virtual labs, electronic textbooks, and the thousands of free online resources can all save schools money and give students excellent educational experiences.

Teachers can use technology to find resources and attend virtual professional development seminars and conferences (most are free). They can also create personal learning networks (PLN) on social media, and other resources to find and share ideas and resources, and get support from their colleagues.

Technology can give teachers and students great resources, new opportunities for learning, ways to collaborate and create, and save money. Technology is a very powerful tool for education.

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