Showing posts with label HCI. Show all posts
Showing posts with label HCI. Show all posts

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Challenge: Re-orienting the learning approach

As a Ghanaian who studied in Ghana, I've gone through an educational system that lays premium on passing exams and getting degrees, and cerificates -- what I call A4 sheets.
This system is still dominant, albeit there's a fresh breath of forward-thinking institutions, and individuals who realise that it's skill and ability that determine the output of an individual, and not a piece of paper.
In my (still young) academic life, I've met students who have no clue why they are in school.
For most, so long as they can get a job, they are okay.
No identified problem to be solved. No wonder most researches undertaken by students towards the award of a degree are next to 'useless' in terms of practically solving a problem.
The classroom environment is one that sees lecturers teach students what to think, and not how to think.
Chewing and spewing of facts is the norm. Understanding concepts is simply unwelcomed.
I am frustrated.
I need help in re-orienting the teaching/learning approach being used in our educational system.
I was privileged to be involved in the teaching of the Human-Computer Interaction course last semester. The first couple of classes made me realise how I had to explain almost everything on the PPTs I was using.
Note: The textbook on which the PPTs is based, and supplementary texts have been given to the students.
So the next lecture, I informed the class I hadn't read the book and so implied I wasn't ready to teach effectively.
Surprisingly, I went through about 6 slides with VERY little questions from the class.
No discussions.
That changed the next lecture because they had actually read and researched, and a wholesome diacussion took place.
I also tried using twitter to engage the class. That didn't go well, but it's a start.
Also, the students a practical assignment in training their eyes on products around them and their designs.
Thanks to Astrid, my boss Patrick, Richard, Kajsa for their advice, motivation, and believe in my ability.
There is hope.
I'm really opened to suggestions on to effectively engage my students and get the best out of them, and the courses I may teach.
Please share your tips, tricks in the comment section.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

A case for 'local' user interfaces?

The tweet above got my attention. Most folks in Ghana still enjoy SMS and those with smartphones enjoy text-based apps like Whatsapp. (Do note that Whatsapp now has voice-enabled input functionality).
From the convo on twitter, one realises that my friend is concerned about folks who cannot read English. I am however of the view that, a great majority of such folks can read in their local tongues.

A suggestion for developers who wish to design text-based apps for non-English speakers can be to use an API from Kasahorow. This would afford them the flexibility of using local languages.
However, another cool approach for developers looking forward to implement text-based apps, would be to use voice in place of text.

When it comes to using visuals, a lot of work has to be done to come out with better metaphors. This is because I've been contemplating how User Interface designers (in Ghana -- and Africa) could come up with icons that are 'local' enough to be understood and appreciated by their users.

Is this necessary, though?

What would the icons be like? A basket instead of a shopping cart? An earthenware bowl in place of fork and knife?
Well, as I've stated, more research needs to be done to really get a hang of this. An argument will be that the world is a global village, no? But what of the 'local' folks?

Forgive me if my thoughts are not 'falling in place' now.
I'm an enigma to myself.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Missing Link?

Communication has always been a phenomenon that beats me. How a child inherently learns to speak the tongue of people in his/her immediate environs, gestures that cut across cultures, et cetera. Still more fascinating is the ability of the deaf and dumb to communicate with their peers, and non-signers (using sign language).

Remember the programme 'Missing Link' on GTV --'twas shown on Saturdays? That was a really educative programme that got discontinued.

A lot of study has also gone into finding better ways to enhance the interaction between humans and computers -- Human Computer Interaction. Researchers are finding ways of particularly, also helping the deaf, dumb, and blind folks embrace technology.
One such development in Ghana has to do with the Ghanaian Sign Language (GhSL) Repository. The project aims to develop a website that will serve as a repository as well as an online teaching resource for GhSL; mainly aimed at non-signers. This project is being spearheaded by Diana Dayaka Osei and Dr. Astrid Twenebowa Larssen (of Ashesi University). This project would go a long way to bridge the gap 'between both worlds'. A very laudable venture by these individuals indeed.

Have you watched the evening news on GTV lately? A man does the signs when the news is read! However, I believe the signs are in English -- yes, English version. What if we had a local version (in our local tongue) while the local news is read on television? Super cool!
Surprisingly, we do have a local version of the sign language in Ghana -- the Adamorobe Sign Language!.

Technology, in the right hands, and used for the right reasons is pretty amazing. Embrace it.