INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON EDUCATION, DEVELOPMENT & INNOVATION (INCEDI 2016) – Faculty and student presentations

INCEDI is an annual international conference for developments and innovations in education. This year, the conference took place from August 29th to 31st, at The Tang Palace Hotel in Accra. INCEDI 2016 brought together academics, researchers, education experts, doctoral and masters students, technologist and professionals across the world. The general theme of the INCEDI 2016 was “Education Delivery and New Learning Technologies” covering a broad spectrum of topics in education, development, and innovation. From the Ashesi Community, four D:Lab Student Fellows, joined faculty from Ashesi to present papers on ongoing projects they have been working on since January this year. These papers were also presented to the Ashesi Community. Watch videos of the students’ presentations here.

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Abstracts

Below are the abstracts of the papers the speakers presented at the INCEDI 2016:

Fauziya Ahmed Mudasir: “TEACHERS AS GRASSROOTS ENTREPRENEURS: MODELLING THE DISSEMINATION OF LOCAL STEM INNOVATION IN GHANA”.

Experiential teaching and learning techniques being used in Ghanaian Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematical (STEM) classrooms need to be shared and spread widely. A model to enable such dissemination must first come from a detailed understanding of the individual players and the networks within which STEM education is run. The research, a collaborative between the Ashesi D:Lab and The Practical Education Network (PEN) from the MIT D-Lab, was aimed at understanding  what the more innovative and entrepreneurial teachers are doing in order to develop a sustainable model to support their work. The research was done with a list of teachers in Greater Accra, Kumasi and Takoradi. This list was created by drawing from the more than 1,000 teachers that PEN has trained in hands-on techniques, and also takes into account input from other local organizations, who are familiar with innovative approaches employed by these teachers. The research provided us with the themes and trends for understanding how teachers, who are constrained by material resources, make strides in the dissemination of STEM education in Ghana. An important outcome is our understanding of teacher behavior in order to explore the prospects of micro-franchising as an option for scaling the dissemination efforts for STEM. We explore how this understanding helps us apply the basic principles of franchising to provide opportunities for the teachers to operate a proven, sustainable business, resulting in a steady income to help sustain hands-on STEM learning with minimal to no cost to them.

 

Emmanuel Derry Wanye: “EXPERIENTIAL EDUCATION PLATFORM TO STUDY THE AGRICULTURAL VALUE CHAIN”.

Experiential education has been shown to produce better learning outcomes than both cognitive and behavioural learning. Ambrose, Bridges, Dipietro, Lovett & Norman (2010) support this with a principle that “goal-directed practice coupled with targeted feedback are critical to learning”(p.125). Experiential education creates a powerful platform where students can practice the tenets of the various topics involved, thereby gaining mastery and understanding, that will make them competent real life problem solvers. However, creating such impactful grounds is a mammoth task. The instructor needs to cautiously identify the necessary elements and embed specific learning opportunities that meet learning objectives. Given the need to study the agricultural value chain in Ghana and the growing interest in the youth in agriculture, students at Ashesi University decided to apply the framework of experiential education to develop an experiential learning platform to engage their peers in studying the agricultural value chain of vegetable, herbs and spices. The peer-to-peer nature of the program is based on research that suggests that if learners find learning environments very supportive – with affable friends and tutors, it ultimately motivates learning (Ambrose et al., 2010, p.79). This paper identifies the opportunities and challenges of designing such a platform; recognizing the learning points and developing a model of learning for students to engage with the platform. The analysis gives a better insight into the construction of an experiential learning platforms as well as the benefits and challenges involved when comparing peer designers to expert designers of experiential learning platforms.

 

Christopher Zanu: “FIELD RESEARCH DESIGN AS AN EDUCATIONAL PLATFORM FOR EXPLORING NEW CONCEPTS”.

Experiential education has been identified as a compelling learning approach to teaching new concepts. New concepts need a deep level of exploration to uncover their tenets, understand the different relationships between the different variables involved and predict outcomes. For novice researchers such as students, the process of understanding new concepts can benefit from an experiential learning setup with immersion in the problem context. Such immersion into a problem context also helps reveal user incongruities with the new concepts in order to reveal strategies that will help reduce incongruity and increase adoption of such new concepts.  The paper presents a model for field study research program designed to explore the adoption probabilities of a new solar technology – the organic photovoltaic technology (OPV), understand user attitude and subsequently develop new applications for the technology. Together, student researchers from Ashesi University College, in collaboration with researchers from the Technical University of Denmark conducted a pre-feasibility study of setting up an OPV business in Ghana, while gathering design requirements and proposing product solutions as an extension of the research. The research process involved interviewing users in different categories by showing them different product forms of the technology and soliciting their perceptions. From the research, it was clear that the field design of the study provided a pedagogical framework for the students to dive into the concept of OPV and explore the technology and its market potential. Experiential learning, not only generated new knowledge but also precipitated a new product development process with creative outcomes.

Keywords: experiential learning, design thinking, schemata

 

Joseph-Peter Brown-Pobee: “DIGITAL TOOLS TO IMPROVE INTERNATIONAL COLLABORATION AND DISTANT EDUCATION”.

The advent of rapid technological change within Sub-Saharan Africa’s changing socio-economic setting is driving the need to utilize elements of technology to make progress within the sectors left behind. Education is one of these sectors. With a literacy rate among individuals 15 years and older at 64% (UNESCO,2015), change is needed. This paper explores some of these technologies and the role they can play in curbing challenges faced in education in Africa. At this time, demand for education outweighs supply of qualified personnel and facilities available. Distant learning and collaborative technologies present the opportunity to accommodate this disparity and reach a greater number of students while delivering the educational experience they lack. This paper reviews the extant literature on education and distant technologies while congruently considering a case study on an on-going collaborative design project between students at Ashesi University, Ghana and Brown University, USA. It also employs views from key stakeholders in the educational space on opportunities the aforementioned technologies can provide for educational institutions on the continent. Analysis of these findings revealed, among other insights, the immense benefit technology plays in the facilitation of cross-cultural communication and sharing ideas across disciplines and ultimately dissolving physical barriers in learning. This paper will explore some of the technologies that make this possible and make some recommendations for implementation.

 

Charles W Jackson, PhD, P.E., David A Sampah: “Internet-enabled Teamwork strategies with CATME”

As part of its liberal arts curriculum, Ashesi University College requires its students to engage with computer programming. Our non-engineering students enroll in the course “Introduction to Computing and Programming” during their first semester on campus. The course explores social and personal aspects of information technology, as well as teaching HTML and javascript skills. We describe use of a web-based tool, CATME Smarter Teamwork (www.catme.org), to manage project teams in this class. The first task is constructing diverse teams. We then conduct a group exercise that calibrates students for evaluating teamwork behaviors. Lastly, we collect two rounds of surveys on their teamwork experiences. Course evaluations report these anonymous peer evaluations motivate harder work, and enable less self-confident students to propose relevant feedback to their teammates.

 

Agyepong, S. A., Dodd, R., and Akoto, B.: “DOES CONTEXT MATTER? ENTREPRENEURIAL TEACHING AND TRAINING IN RURAL GHANA.”

Models for training in entrepreneurship abound. Existing models include Alexander Osterwalder’s Business Model Canvas, Steve Blank’s Customer Development Process, Eric Ries’ Lean Start-up, and Bill Aulet’s Disciplined Entrepreneurships. These have been developed mainly in the North American context and were developed based on consistencies in the practice of entrepreneurship within those contexts. A question that begs to be answered is whether or not, the context within which an entrepreneurial model is developed, influences the model itself, and the mode in which the model is taught and deployed. Tasked with developing entrepreneurial teaching content for rural communities in Ghana, a needs assessment was undertaken to probe and understand the relationship between context and entrepreneurial training, as well as to conclude on whether the contextual differences would influence entrepreneurial training and development in rural communities. Employing ethnographic research methods – including observations, in-depth interviews and focus group discussions – it was discovered that, the differences within the contexts would not allow direct transposing of the existing models. The need to make specific modifications resulted in a modified content to be tested for entrepreneurial training in the rural context. This paper makes a case that, context matters in entrepreneurial training and development from secondary data. It further reports on the major findings of the needs assessment conducted, highlighting the similarities and differences in context and implications of the findings where entrepreneurial training is concerned.

Key Words: Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurial Training, Business Modelling, Rural Communities

 

AGYEPONG, S. A., SPIO A. E., DZANIE, T. AND SALIHU, O. “DEVELOPING AN INNOVATIVE COURSE IN DESIGN AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP FOR AN AFRICAN UNIVERSITY.”

Developing the next generation of ethical entrepreneurial leaders, without exposing all students to formal training in entrepreneurship, was a shortfall Ashesi University identified. With an existing capstone entrepreneurship option which ensures active, experiential and experimental pedagogical approach, the university still saw it expedient to extend this opportunity to students of all majors. In 2013, the journey to start a course, that helped the University better achieve its mission, commenced at an Executive Committee meeting. Within a curriculum that was full, and overflowing with core and elective courses waiting to be deployed, a unified community of administrators, Heads of Departments and faculty, brainstormed how this can become a reality. This paper discusses the journey the University took to arrive at what is currently running as Foundations of Design and Entrepreneurship (FDE), a maiden creative problem solving and basics of business course, heavily drawing on design thinking, design and entrepreneurship. The course was started in September 2015, after 2 years of planning and development. FDE seeks to inspire and equip all freshmen regardless of their majors, with foundational skills in entrepreneurship. Lessons this paper seeks to share include how a purposed institution can be innovative, the processes necessary for developing new programmes, and failure points to be mindful of. This will inform peers and institutions who want to innovate entrepreneurial education in the country, by developing innovative courses to shape graduates ready to transform the continent and represent Africa on the world platform.

Keywords: Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurial Education, Curriculum Development, Design, and Innovation

 

 

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