PROJECT UPDATE #18

by | 1st March 2022 | Ghana, Methodology, Project Update

ABSTRACT ICT LESSONS IN BASIC SCHOOLS: AN AUTO-ETHNOGRAPHIC FIELDWORK EXPERIENCE

 

In this month’s project update, I would like to apprise our partners and the general public of our ethnographic study that is currently ongoing in selected schools. Three schools from two districts were selected for our ethnographic study. We classified the schools into categories 1, 2, and 3 depending on the extent of their ICT infrastructure.

Our strategy going into the schools was to sit in every class in order to understand how teachers incorporated ICT into their teaching and learning. This was done for two weeks in our category 1 school while we awaited approval from the school management to commence work in category 2 and 3 schools. The strategy has since been revised on receiving approval from the second school. The lesson observation now focuses on the ICT class and how the subject is taught in a resource constraint setting.

Initial fears

Teachers in our selected schools initially were not too comfortable having a researcher sit in their class. Despite extensive and prior engagement to explain how the researcher was going to participate in class, there were some initial reservations. However, this was short-lived as the participation in class as a ‘student’ rather than seems to urge the teachers on. So far, the approach to our ethnographic research has been through lesson observation, class participation, and interviews with teachers and students to clarify any questions that require additional explanation.

Initial observations

Category 1 school during the survey indicated having a well-furnished ICT lab that is available for use by the students. Although this view is upheld by both teachers and students, the lab has not been used for more than 2 years by the students. The simple reason is that the school has no space to house the lab on its premises and so have had to put it at the primary division of the same school which is located about 100 metres away. Teachers are unwilling to walk students there when it is time because of the limited time available for ICT as a subject. “By the time they walk from this place to the lab and settles in of the lesson, the period will be over” (Head Teacher, Category 1 School). In place of this, they resort to using the only laptop in the school and a projector during practical sessions.

In our category 3 school which has no ICT lab and no official laptop, the ICT teacher normally brings his personal laptop to class whenever the need arises for demonstration of specific concepts. An interesting observation in this school is that they share a projector with an adjourning school which was gifted to both schools after a project they both participated in. In this particular case, both ICT teachers in the beneficiary schools are supposed to indicate their intent to use the projector ahead of time to avoid any conflict of use.

Our engagement in category 2 school is expected to start in the coming week and we look forward to experiencing and possibly understanding things from their perspective.

Under the current resource constraint settings that schools find themselves in, the question which has often arisen in the broader AI in Education (AIED) project is whether these children and their teachers can play any role in the global artificial intelligence discourse? How do we ensure that children are not left behind in this fast-changing global and national educational technology space? As we engage, participate and observe, we tend to have more questions than answers. However, it is our goal that the Fair-AI in Education project will bring the much-needed insights and well-weaved policy directions that can support digital acceleration in such communities and beyond.

Ghana Month

The month of March is celebrated as Ghana month. Ghana will be 65 years on the 6th of March. From the Fair-AI in Education team, we congratulate the country of Ghana and associate ourselves with the strides that Ghana has made over the years in the West African sub-region and the continent as a whole. We shall continue to work with our Ghanaian partners to ensure a fair representation of the voices of all stakeholders in the fast-changing global digital technologies space. Indeed, no child must be left behind!

Ghana Ayekoo!

Dr Hayford Mensah Ayerakwa

Dr Hayford Mensah Ayerakwa

Author

Dr Hayford Mensah Ayerakwa is a postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Institute of Education, University College London. Hayford’s research focuses on digital technologies in education, social and economic impact assessments of P3 interventions on education delivery, production and consumption of educational technologies, and the intersections between technology adoption, willingness to pay and learning outcomes, happiness, and other educational welfare indicators. His past work includes research on inclusion education, newly qualified teachers’ teaching experiences, rural-urban food linkages and multi-spatial livelihoods, happiness, and impact assessment.

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