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Education Windows

Ghana's Windows Blackboard Teacher And His Students Have a Rewarding Outcome (qz.com) 82

Quartz: A lot has changed in the life of Richard Appiah Akoto in the fortnight since he posted photos of himself on Facebook drawing a Microsoft Word processing window on a blackboard with multi-colored chalk, to teach his students about computers -- which the school did not have. The photos went viral on social media and media stories like Quartz's went all around the world. Akoto, 33, is the information and communication technology (ICT) teacher at Betenase M/A Junior High School in the town of Sekyedomase, about two and half hours drive north of Ghana's second city, Kumasi. The school had no computers even though since 2011, 14 and 15-year-olds in Ghana are expected to write and pass a national exam (without which students cannot progress to high school) with ICT being one of the subjects.

The story of the school and Twitter pressure from prominent players in the African tech space drew a promise from Microsoft to "equip [Akoto] with a device from one of our partners, and access to our MCE program & free professional development resources on." To fulfill this promise, the technology giant flew Akoto to Singapore this week where he is participating in the annual Microsoft Education Exchange.

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Ghana's Windows Blackboard Teacher And His Students Have a Rewarding Outcome

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  • In before the racist ACs show up for this thread. It's probably already too late, except for the fact that it's Sunday morning so most of the racist ACs are probably in church right now.

  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Sunday March 18, 2018 @12:14PM (#56279833)
    his chalkboard diagrams looked pretty amazing. That's some serious dedication to his students. Glad they got computers. There's so many old PCs getting trashed that often just need a new drive or a few caps replaced.
    • by Track07 ( 687820 )

      Definitely. If you think about it, a teacher in the USA would simply project an image and have a cue to its purpose. On the other hand, this guy needed to completely memorize every glyph including its location and purpose. I hope he doesn't use a carriage return as a paragraph formatting technique ;)

    • There's so many old PCs getting trashed with literally no technical problem.

      FTFY.

  • Thank goodness we've swung into action and comprehensively resolved this problem! See, Trump was entirely right that foreign aid and a functioning State Department are vestigial in this day and age.

  • They'd be better off sending him one of these, although I'm not sure why this particular kit costs as much as it does and not $45.

    https://www.adafruit.com/produ... [adafruit.com]

    Is the OLPC project still active? Haven't heard anything about them in ages.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wik... [wikipedia.org]

    • by mohsel ( 2505642 )
      Totally agree.

      I think there will be more benefits in equipping them with RPIs rather than PCs. it fits the purpose in an educational context and you reach more with the same amount of money.
      and yeah, M$ can still be the sponsor and preinstall the IoT version of their MalwareOS 10
    • Even a raspberry pi requires a TV/monitor with an HDMI input, and a keyboard, and a mouse, and maybe speakers. It adds up.
    • I'm not sure why this particular kit costs as much as it does and not $45.

      It's not just a Raspberry Pi. It has a $15 keyboard, a cheap plastic case and even comes with two stickers! That's why Adafruit jacked the price up to $149.95!

  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Sunday March 18, 2018 @12:21PM (#56279863)

    ... to all those chalk-board drawings when Microsoft pushes a new Office version that moves all the controls around?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      He's lucky he hasn't been sued by them...

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      ... to all those chalk-board drawings when Microsoft pushes a new Office version that moves all the controls around?

      He draws them anew.

      Seriously.

      That blackboard is IT. He draws it fresh every time. He doesn't have access to a million blackboards to which he can simply draw it once and use a different one. (Well, he may have two or three, so he can keep one of them up if he's willing to sacrifice one for his other subjects).

      Then again, if he's the technology teacher, then he draws it once at the start of the

  • Teaching rote MSFT junk. Like in India, where it is some supposed "benefit" to receive free licenses and materials, it's an attempt to undermine the efforts of a society under the guise of assistance as benevolent market leader. Garbage.
    • Teaching rote MSFT junk. Like in India, where it is some supposed "benefit" to receive free licenses and materials, it's an attempt to undermine the efforts of a society under the guise of assistance as benevolent market leader. Garbage.

      Not to put too fine a point on it, but that's the EXACT same tactic Apple Computers, Ltd. (which has since renamed itself to "Apple, Inc.") used in the 1980's and probably 90's as well, to boost adoption of their (at the time, clearly inferior) computers, such as the Apple ][, Apple //e, etc. versus the far-superior IBM PC, (superior for the purposes we'd have put them to if we'd had them in computer labs then, instead of crappy little Apple 2's,) since otherwise they'd probably never have gained sufficient

  • by Col. Bloodnok ( 825749 ) on Sunday March 18, 2018 @12:50PM (#56279967)

    This story reeks of it.

  • *A* device? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rainwalker ( 174354 ) on Sunday March 18, 2018 @12:52PM (#56279977)

    That's nice, but donating one laptop seems...stingy? Very "thoughts and prayers"? A reasonable laptop is like $300, less for corporations, especially for a $90 billion dollar company.

    • Re:*A* device? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Sarten-X ( 1102295 ) on Sunday March 18, 2018 @02:24PM (#56280363) Homepage

      I built a computer lab in Ghana. One laptop is plenty.

      A single laptop is enough to make a huge improvement in the students' lives, through demonstrations and guided lessons. Despite the promises of the Ghanaian government, a lot of these kids won't actually be taking the ICT test, and a large percentage of those that do will not be using computers in their daily lives for the foreseeable future. Having a laptop demonstrating key concepts is a good first step towards the education they need if they're one of the lucky few.

      A lab is stuck in one location. It's a prime target for theft. In time, it will be neglected, repurposed, and broken. A laptop is portable. It can be secured in a cabinet, carried discreetly in a bag, and taken to a repair shop (there's was a nice one in Kumasi a few years ago) frequently. The logistics of handling a single laptop are far easier to manage than a classroom full of them, and far easier than desktops.

      • [quote]will not be using computers in their daily lives for the foreseeable future[/quote] That is very "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers" type of thinking, Ghana it may be, but these kids have entire lifetime ahead of them. Changes are to be expected over decades. And if Africa does indeed continue to lag behind for the next century, well it's a bit of a catch 22 situations isn't it? Can't progress because majority of population has never even touched a computer, can't get populatio
        • I'll concede that's what it looks like, but that's not really what I meant. Perhaps a more accurate phrasing would be that for most of those students, the ICT lessons they're receiving will have minimal impact on their daily lives.

          The Sekyedumase region is very near where my lab was... it's a big (by local standards) city in the middle of a farming community. The crowning achievement in the area at the time was a 3-story building. The vast majority of employment is local commerce or farming. When I was ther

    • I thought the same. They spent money flying the teacher to Singapore. Would a better use of that money be buying more computers for the school?

      • They spent money flying the teacher to Singapore. Would a better use of that money be buying more computers for the school?

        No. Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he'll eat for his life. Now it's not quite like that, but in many cases bringing the issue to the surface can do far more good than a single donation.

        Case in point, MS gave him a laptop and a ticket to a Microsoft event to meet others. Since then the school has received several computers both new and old.

        Marketing is more valuable than a donation. Kind of like when stories were coming out where Apple gave a guy an iPad after his wife tol

    • That's nice, but donating one laptop seems...stingy? Very "thoughts and prayers"? A reasonable laptop is like $300, less for corporations, especially for a $90 billion dollar company.

      I don't disagree that one laptop would be stingy, however that doesn't actually appear to be the case.

      From the linked article it states that that they received a gift of a laptop from the University of Leeds, followed by a further 5 computers (not clear who from, but not unreasonable to assume it's from one of Microsoft's partn

      • From the linked article it states that that they received a gift of a laptop from the University of Leeds, followed by a further 5 computers (not clear who from, but not unreasonable to assume it's from one of Microsoft's partners) and then a further laptop for Akoto's personal use by NIIT, a computer training school headquartered in Accra, the capital of Ghana.

        Actually, re-reading it again, it looks like the 5 desktops and 1 laptop for personal use was donated by NIIT. I assumed the word "further" was to d

  • ...or the law of unintended consequences will take effect #TheGodsMustBeCrazy
  • by Anonymous Coward

    This is the perfect story for our brave new world of microsecond attention span and viral feel-bad/tweet/feel-good mindset:
    -- see touching photo
    -- do something trivial and symbolic about it
    -- tweet and market that symbolic action
    -- extra points for a "thoughts and prayers" tweet, as those are particularly transparent (= "please think of me as a caring person" [not caring enough to actually do anything other than tweet, of course])
    -- go home feeling good.
    There are some very smart folks at Microsoft; I wonder

  • The drawing with chalk was actually an attempt to real-time emulate Word starting up.

  • I tried reading the linked article with scripting disabled because - why would you need JavaScript just to read a story on a random website? Turns out qz is one of those sites which, bizarrely, puts up an extremely blurry version of its stories’ photographs by default and then afterward replaces them with the real photos with a JavaScript call. So if you use NoScript or a similar tool, you might as well read the story using Lynx.

    What on earth is qz.com trying to do with its visitors’ computers t

    • Including a low-resolution image directly in the HTML using a data: URI has two purposes.

      Respecting viewers on capped plans
      If a server sends an image that the user never scrolls to, the data transmission is wasted. If a server sends an image whose resolution exceeds that of the viewer's display device, the data transmission is wasted. When viewers are on cellular or satellite Internet connections with a usage allowance of 10 GB per month or less, wasted data transmission costs these viewers real money.
      Makin
      • I think the GP's point was that the website is sending stories in image format. Both purposes you state are solved by using garden variety text; even the lowest resolution photo takes more data to transmit, and increases the time of the first meaningful paint, than just transmitting text. Since the site is intentionally using methods that are less effective at accomplishing either task you suggest, then it stands to reason that there are other reasons to be putting stories in an image format.

        • I don't think that's the case, from that post
          > bizarrely, puts up an extremely blurry version of its stories’ *photographs* by default and then afterward replaces them with the real photos with a JavaScript call

          Anyway, tepples response sums up everything quite well. Not everything is a conspiracy.

          • Tepples gives two reasons that are far better solved with actual-text than low-res images. If QZ's means of addressing the issues described by Tepples is both less effective and more complicated, then it's not a conspiracy to say that there's another 'problem' being 'solved' with image-based articles.

      • Including a low-resolution image directly in the HTML using a data: URI has two purposes.

        He didn't say "low resolution", he said "blurry".

        I've seen that before. The included image isn't a low-res version of the final image; it's a high-res version of the image which has been intentionally blurred all to shit. So the rest of your comment is irrelevant; not only are they not saving bandwidth by providing a low-res photo, they're actually wasting even more bandwidth by including a high-res but blurred photo, and then using JavaScript to load the non-blurred photo.

        • The blurry cover photo in question [wordpress.com] is not high res; it is 50 by 38 pixels and 1.5 kB, compared to the full-size cover photo [wordpress.com] that is 640 by 480 pixels and 72.3 kB. I admit I was wrong about it being an inline data: URI; I had remembered that technique from a faster paint tutorial and assumed it was being applied here as well. But even blurred photos compress fairly well in JPEG because most of their energy is concentrated in low-order DCT terms.

  • back when i was younger, this was exactly how we learned coding as well.
    computers were way too expensive, so we got all the theory and made our programs on paper (guarding and keeping them, until, one day, perhaps, you actually got the chance of typing them into the real thing).

    the thing that is different here, is that we didn't have any gui's, so it was far easier for the teacher to explain things on the black board if everything is cli based.

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