Friday, April 10, 2015

Final day of Information Skills Workshop: Internet Research

Rouven & Gudrun, with some participants
To get a complete sense of the need to get information from all angles necessary for a research, Rouven took participants through Internet research today.

Google -- for most researchers -- has become the go-to place. However the engine doesn't have all the answers to questions a researcher has.
Participants were also advised to turn off instant results occasionally so as to get exactly what they were looking for.
This guide shows how one can apply some operators in their queries on Google Search to help them get better results. Additionally, one can also take this self-paced Google Search online course. I highly recommend it. ;-)

Here are some links one can use to augment the information Google has to offer:

The 'perception' that an information found on the Internet must be correct needs to be watched. To test participants, Rouven gave a number of tasks on verifying information found online.
This. Was. Interesting.

Two resources one can consult to check domain ownership are and IANA WHOis Service.
Also read this blog post on how to verify a tweet.

This workshop has been fun, educative, and inspirational. It's my hope that my colleagues at the workshop -- and myself -- will go on to enrich our research careers, by applying all that we learnt.
As for you my fellow reader, I'm sure these posts of mine equip you as well to enrich your research approaches as well.

Related stories:

Day 2 of Information Skills Workshop: Field research

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Day 2 of Information Skills Workshop: Field research

Screenshot of the online survey for my research
Today began with participants of the Information Skills for Research workshop, at the Goethe Institute, undertaking their research (on the field): interviewing respondents, creating/designing questionnaires and online surveys, observing respondents, et cetera.

In the afternoon, participants gathered to discuss their research plan, detailing steps they took in gathering data, insights got from the field research, and the results got from the research.
From the discussions, participants understood some perks of research, while identifying mistakes they made, and how to rectify them next time.

Personally, the field research showed a courage I hadn't tapped -- to go out and interview people, getting to understand them by listening actively, and gaining insights that went to improve my research (because I kept an open mind).

My research was on the user experience (UX) in using ATMs in Ghana. I wanted to understand how users felt about the services their banks' ATMs provided, and whether users expected more services.
I also wanted to understand the sense of security users had in using the ATMs and whether they felt safe while making transactions. 
Moreso, I was bent on learning the ease of use of these ATMs by users.
This research interest has been on my mind for close to a year, but it became more pressing when I helped a Professor of mine to withdraw money from an Ecobank ATM, and was frustrated when the interface didn't show 'Current' as part of the accounts one can withdraw from. It rather had Checking, Savings, and Credit Card. This made me ask if the bank -- and indeed all banks in Ghana, had a manual they gave to first-time ATM users.

An insight I got also from my research while interviewing a staff at the Fidelity bank was the fact that users who didn't bank with the bank could withdraw money using the banks ATM! This is a cardless transaction that makes use of SMS. It's a form of mobile banking.

A detailed report of my research will be shared shortly. I need more inputs, so kindly take this survey if you've not. It will be greatly appreciated.

Related stories:

Who needs a card to use an ATM?

Who needs a card to use an ATM?

SMS sent to initiator with 2nd part of 8-digit code
Do you really need to have an ATM card before using the machine to withdraw cash?
Is it possible to give a user a mobile money 'feel' that is enabled by an ATM machine?
I was intrigued this morning when I learned of Fidelity Bank's cardless ATM transaction. It's a transaction that enables an individual to transfer money from his or her Fidelity account, so that a non Fidelity Bank customer (recipient) can withdraw the money, using the bank's ATM!
How it works?
The initiator sends a short code to their telco (for now, this works for MTN and Vodafone subscribers). This connects them to their account(s). After choosing the account, they enter the phone number of the recipient, then specifies the amount to be transferred.
A SMS is sent to the recipient with the first part of an 8-digit code, needed for the withdrawal. The 2nd part of the code is sent to the initiator.
This is a security measure. The recipient therefore has to contact the initiator for the second part of the code.
Recipient at the ATM
The welcome screen has an option 'Cardless transaction', that the recipient chooses.
He/She then enters their phone number, followed by the 8-digit code, then the amount that was transferred.
The recipient has to withdraw ALL the amount that has been transferred.
Then viola!
Mobile banking has come to stay, and technologies/innovations such as this are welcome interventions.

I stumbled on this info while researching on ATM usage in Ghana. It was an assignment for the workshop I'm attending.

Related stories:

How do you tell stories through research?

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

How do you tell stories through research?

Some answers got from the task given before the workshop began
The Goethe Institut in Ghana began a 3-day information Skills workshop today.
This is a free workshop targeting individuals that deal with research on a daily basis: .
Rouven Rech, a German documentary film maker, is the main facilitator for the workshop. The head of Library & Information Centre at the institute, Gudrun Widlok, is the coordinator.

To get a sense of research methods being used by participants, they were given a fact-finding task prior to the start of the workshop. These were:
  1. Ask the next seller how much 1 mango or 3 bananas will cost, and find out how the seller calculates the price.
  2. How much is a regular lunch in your area?
  3. How much does your neighbour(s) spend on electricity monthly?

This really set the tone for the workshop as participants discovered 'truths' about research they have been overlooking.

News is what somebody somewhere wants to suppress; all the rest is advertising. - Lord Northcliffe

Being a film maker with a journalism background, Rouven showed a movie, Adopted, that he'd produced with Gudrun. It showed how Ghanaians were opened to adopt lonely Europeans.
Yes, it's real.

Rouven advised participants to be courageous in their research endeavours, while taking note of the fact that research isn't easy. Based on responses to the task given prior to the workshop, Rouven emphasised the need for active listening, and open-mindedness to be important skills for any researcher to have.
An activity that users also undertook was to read the same story in different sources (mostly newspapers), to put to test, their understanding of the 5 Ws and 1 H of research.
He further went on to explain the different kinds of research available, the various impulses/triggers that informs a researcher's facts, and a checklist to consult when on a fact-finding mission.

The day ended with participants choosing topics of interest to them, and tasked to go on fact-finding missions, culminating in research proposals, and recommendations.
The results of their research would be presented and discussed tomorrow.

Did you get the impression I am a participant at this workshop?

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Ghana's SHS graduates to get paid internships


From June to August 2015, Junior Camp Ghana is rolling out a Ten-Week Internship Programme for Senior High School leavers. This programme is meant to expose them to the world of work. The Internship Programme will focus on grooming 10 participants in their various fields of interest, as they undergo 8-week internships at companies in Ghana. These will include Agriculture, Technology, Art, among others.

The Junior Camp Internship Programme (JCIP) will boost their confidence and capacity to improve their employability.  
“Experience is the best teacher, which is why internships are so valuable for career development,” Thelma Boamah, the JCIP project lead said. “JCIP participants will be supported to gain a better understanding of their career interests and, through practical experience, develop the soft skills employers want to see.”
Final year students in Senior High Schools in Ghana should apply via before 1st May, 2015.

Junior Camp Ghana is a career guidance and mentorship programme run by the GhanaThink Foundation. This foundation believes in investing in the potentials of young Ghanaians, especially at the Junior High School and Senior High School level. They believe this will help heighten their interest and participation in ensuring the progress of the country. The main message in the Junior Camps is to encourage students to build skills. JCIP will give 10 driven high school graduates the opportunity to experience work and implement learnings as they continue to build skills.

Last year, over 3,000 students benefitted from the career guidance and counselling sessions on their campuses with mentors from various industries. This is an extension of the overall vision of the GhanaThink Foundation which has the slogan; “Less Talk, More Action”. JCIP is an effort to put more action to all the talks where students learnt about building skills in the previous year. The internship programme will offer successful applicants a unique opportunity to gain vital work experience and industry exposure.

Stay updated on this internship program and Junior Camp Ghana via our Twitter, Facebook and Google+ channels.