Ghana has had its fair share of setbacks when it comes to sound policies and their implementation thereof in educating the young Ghanaian. Our struggle with the educational system is quite evident from the very basic level, through to our universities; almost making the system a failed one. From poor B.E.C.E results to the uncertainty in the length of secondary school cycles and altering admission procedures by universities, the problem is ours to solve.
As much as all would agree that the Ghanaian Education System seriously needs a ‘makeover’- one, brushes and blushes can’t fix – the million dollar question is: how do we effect this change we seldom seek? Thankfully, technology is ever growing and rapidly gaining acceptance in the country. As such, it is high time we start looking into technology enabled teaching and learning right from the basic level.
As technology grows, so do the options for gathering and sharing information. In view of this, technology can be a powerful tool for transforming learning. It can help affirm and advance relationships between educators and students, reinvent our approaches to learning and collaboration, shrink long-standing equity and accessibility gaps, and adapt learning experiences to meet the needs of all learners.
How can this be achieved? To realize fully the benefits of technology in our education system and provide authentic learning experiences, educators need to use technology effectively in their practice. Furthermore, education stakeholders should commit to working together to use technology to improve Ghanaian education. These stakeholders include leaders; teachers, faculty, and other educators; researchers; policymakers; funders; technology developers; community members and organizations; and learners and their families.
Backing technology should be sound policies and infrastructure to help bring about this reinvention. Our basic and senior high schools, adult learning centers and universities should be incubators of exploration and invention rather than hubs for dumping information. Likely, educators should be collaborators in learning, seeking new knowledge and constantly acquiring new skills alongside their students. Education leaders should set a vision for creating learning experiences that provide the right tools and supports for all learners to thrive.
Here are three ways technology can transform education in Ghana:
Provide Equity and Accessibility:
Equity in education means increasing all students’ access to educational opportunities with a focus on closing achievement gaps and removing barriers that students face based on their race, ethnicity, sex;; disability; English language ability; religion; socioeconomic status; or geographical location; whereas accessibility refers to the design of apps, devices, materials, and environments that support and enable access to content and educational activities for all learners.
Technology can support accessibility through embedded assistance, for example, text-to-speech, audio and digital text formats of instructional materials, language translation apps, programs that differentiate instruction, adaptive testing, built-in accommodations, and assistive technology. Also, the use of tablets as teaching aids will better help students to share visual lessons, presentations, and examples with their peers.
Improve Teaching and Learning:
Today there is a vast base of knowledge and abilities that can be augmented and enhanced throughout our lives. Fortunately, advances in learning sciences have provided new insights into how people learn. Technology can be a powerful tool to reimagine learning experiences on the basis of those insights. Nonetheless, a digital use divide continues to exist between learners who are using technology in active, creative ways to support their learning and those who predominantly use technology for passive content consumption. The key is to use technology actively in day to day learning processes. For example: a school with connectivity but without robust science facilities can offer its students virtual chemistry, biology, anatomy, and physics labs—offering students learning experiences that approach those of peers with better resources.
Also the use of virtual reality glasses like Google cardboard and the likes can enable students experience real time visits to historical sites, planets etc. otherwise limited by time and geographical location. Likewise, with high-speed internet access, a student interested in learning computer science can take the course online in a school that lacks the budget or a faculty member with the appropriate skills to teach the course. Increased use of games and simulations can also be used to give students the experience of working together on a project without leaving their classrooms and improve the learning curve.
Measuring learning is a necessary part of every teacher’s work. Teachers need to check for student understanding, and parents, students, and leaders need to know how students are doing overall in order to help them successfully prepare for university and work. In addition to supporting learning across content areas, technology-enabled assessments can help reduce the time, resources, and disruption to learning required for the administration of paper assessments.
Technology can help us imagine and redefine assessment in a variety of ways. One such way is enhanced question types. Technology-based assessments allow for a variety of question types beyond the limited multiple-choice, true-or-false, or fill-in-the-blank options that have characterized traditional assessments. Examples of enhanced question types include the following:
- Graphic response, which includes any item to which students respond by drawing, moving, arranging, or selecting graphic regions.
- Simulations, in which students take action in immersive and/or roleplaying environments to test their knowledge in contexts that provide high fidelity to real world scenarios.
- Equation response, in which students respond by entering an equation.
- Performance-based assessments, in which students perform a series of complex tasks.
Another way is to provide real time feedback, allowing stake holders to understand students’ strengths and weaknesses, while guiding them to make valid, actionable interpretations of the assessment data. Certain formative assessment platforms allow educators to provide feedback to students via in-line comments (through video, audio, or text), engage in online chats, e-mail feedback directly to families and learners, and connect learners to additional resources for practicing specific skills or developing key understandings.
Similarly, these technologies also can increase the efficiency of the process of giving feedback, allowing educators more time to focus on areas of greatest need. For example, for giving feedback on areas of frequent concern, educators can pre-populate a menu of responses to use as comments, allowing them to shift focus to areas of feedback unique to each student. Automated responses can be generated as well when assignments are late or incomplete.
Although this is still nascent technology, in recent years, advances have occurred in automated scoring of essays that may make it a more powerful tool to generate timely feedback .learners and their families can access this information almost in real time. Technology-based summative assessments also facilitate faster turnaround of results. Some of today’s technology-based assessments also allow for a richer menu of approaches to feedback than do traditional or even first-generation online assessments. As such a shift from traditional paper and pencil to next generation digital assessments enables more flexibility, responsiveness, and contextualization.