Showing posts with label education. Show all posts
Showing posts with label education. Show all posts

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Choosing referees, and supervisors


Making a choice of who to contact to act a referee and give you a recommendation (for a job, or to further one's education), can be a headache sometimes.
I've had this problem before, and currently see a number of my friends and students going through the same dilemma.
Who qualifies as referee/reference? A person who can be asked for information about another person's character, abilities, et cetera. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
I've learnt that, it is not as clear-cut a choice, as it seems to be.
Here are some tips:

  • Consider the job, or course you intend to read. This makes it easier to choose a referee who has considerable experience in that particular industry (i.e. for the job application), or field of study (i.e. for the intended course of study).
  • For job applications, an former boss is ideal, as they can really give the needed information on a your abilities and attitude.
    If it's for an entry position, and you do not have any work experience, relations and acquaintances can make the recommendation.
    If the requirement for such an entry position is a university degree, then the you would have to fall on former lecturers to recommend you. This can be a lecturer who taught you a relevant course, the intended course of study or job expects you to have knowledge of. It can also be your final year project supervisor, or a supervisor for any project you undertook as a student.

This brings me to the issue of 'choosing' a supervisor.
Most institutions in Ghana, choose supervisors for students. Sometimes students (i.e. Postgrads) get to choose their supervisors.
I've had a number of encounters with students who had wished to have a particular individual as their supervisor, and as such were disappointed with the choice their institutions had made for them.
As a student, choose a supervisor who has a keen interest in your research/ project. This can be a published researcher/expert in your research domain. The advantage is that they can guide you to make the best out of your research, by making worthwhile contributions.
Choosing someone you are 'comfortable' with does not always help you as a researcher, or with your finished project. There have been instances where projects are assigned to supervisors who are not interested in them and so just 'manage' their given roles till the end of the project. Others also do not have a clue what the research/project is all about, and the student is left to fend for himself/herself, like a lost sheep with no shepherd.
Other times, the case is reverse, where you have a student choose a project or research area they are not interested in, and expect their supervisor to do all the work.
That. Won't. Happen.
For now, these come to mind. If you have any other comments, please don't hesitate to share them via the comment section. Thanks.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Kofi's dilemma

Kofi has always loved lifelong learning -- education that has no end. After his first degree, he was fortunate to be retained at his alma mater as a faculty intern.
The love for teaching increased and he realised that to really fit this 'penguin' environment, he needed to further his education.
Thus began his frustrations and disappointments.
Just a year into his internship, he had a half scholarship to study at the AIT in Greece. That didn't work out because he didn't have sufficient funds -- someone also commented that he hadn't served for 2 years to qualify for a study leave. Yeah.

The following year, he stumbled upon WrUT by chance -- and got admitted. The requirements for the visa processing saw him go through the offices of the accrediatation board, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Intrgration, and the West Afrca Examinations Council. These were all to legalise his documents!

Then came the pendulum-like convos and movements to the Polish Embassy in Abuja. (This saga would be in a different post).

After his unfortunate encounters with the embassy, Kofi re-examined his 'obssession' with abrokyire education.

'sia.

Why is it that such 'good' chances come his way and do not materialise in the end?
He also felt abandoned by his employers who wanted him to upgrade himself; yet watched on as he 'struggled'.

This year is walaahi year for Kofi. He had wanted -- and still wants -- to leave his current job for a while. Perhaps his kismet is elsewhere, no?
Not putting all your eggs in one basket came in handy too, this year. Kofi is currently at the KNUST, 'upgrading' himself. There's no telling what the future holds, but he's optimistic. He's resorted to live his life as a peacock in the midst of penguins.

I am Kofi. This is my story.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Harnessing (available) resources for development

Barcamp Sunyani 2013 advert
Last year, the very first barcamp was held in Sunyani. It was an event that saw stakeholders in the region, meet to network and discuss issues related to its development.
This year, another barcamp beckons. As an agricultural hub of Ghana, there is the need to find out the resources available to us, to improve the sector.
  • What information is available to farmers and those in agriculture?
  • What role does (or can) ICT play in agriculture?
  • What organisations are doing a lot to better the agricultural sector in Ghana as a whole?
  • What can I do as an individual to help in the development of my community?
For answers to these and other questions, join us at Barcamp Sunyani on the 9th of November, 2013 at the University of Energy and Renewable Resources, at 9am prompt.
Do follow discussions on twitter via the hashtag #bcsyi. You can also register for the event online.
See you when I see you...

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

What is the cost of student life in Ghana?

An important factor students consider in their choice of location for study is the cost of living. What at all influences the cost of living? How much do students spend per month in our institutions?
If you are an undergraduate student in Ghana, please spend a couple of your minutes to take the survey below. Thanks

Do watch this space for an infographic of the results.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Why I do what I do?

As a young academic, I sometimes get folks asking me how and why I'm in such a field. I don't really know how to explain it to them, for them to understand. I sometimes feel I'm even not fully fit for this field (and the truth is I'm not!). But something drives me to excel at what I do -- a passion -- so clearly captured in Peter Levine's quote in this article. He says:

I love teaching because I am able to make a difference in a student’s future. Whether I help to unlock a new concept or see a student follow her/his lifelong dreams, teaching and passing on knowledge has become a passion of mine.

That's exactly how I feel as a young academic -- an aspiration I'm cultivating.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Exploring the Virgin Territory of Embedded Systems

An embedded system
Photo Credit: PlantAutomation
Consider the following scenarios:
  • Your car has been stolen. How do you track its location?
  • You travel and realise you’ve left your lights on! How do you save energy – and money – by switching off the lights?

The answer to these, and many other similar ones, is embedded systems.
For more on the applications of embedded systems, click here.
Embedded systems are simply specialized computer systems that are part of larger systems or machines
The Kumasi Center for Lifelong Learning-KCLL, seeing the prospects of this industry, organised a 10-day training workshop on embedded systems at the School of Science, KNUST. This was done in partnership with First Atlantic Semiconductors & Microelectronics-FASMICRO, Nigeria's largest embedded systems company, and MFriday, a group of mobile technology enthusiasts (made up of students and industry experts).
I'm currently participating in the workshop as a ‘trainee-observer’ (on the request of the KCLL’s Executive Director, Yaw), to see how best to replicate the training on the Catholic University College of Ghana campus.
Participants have so far been introduced to the PIC microchip/microcontroller, FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array, a special type of programmable microprocessor) and taught how to write programs in the Assembler and C languages. They've also been introduced to the USART/UART and USB communication protocol. Some of the mini projects saw participants programming a digital clock, the seven segment display of an LED, a piano, and an LCD.
The last day of the training -- tomorrow -- will be used to highlight the business aspects of embedded systems.
The trainer, Ekele, believes the field is a ‘virgin’ territory in Africa and hopes a lot more people embrace it. He says, “A lot of people are into software, but what is the software going to interact with – hardware.”
It’s been an exciting experience, and I wish a number of institutions in Ghana would set up Microelectronics Training and Development Centers (MTDCs) to train students in this field.
Please let me know what your thoughts are by commenting on this post.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Learning to learn

I just read a cool and inspiring blog post by the same title. The author, John Sonmez, who blogs at Making the Complex Simple, puts into perspective his thoughts on why taking responsibility for one’s education is very important.
He explains what learning how to learn how to learn is:

"The key to self-educating is to be able to change the way you think about learning. You should no longer see yourself as a student to be taught, but rather as a researcher gathering together information on a subject."

I picked up his steps in the learning process and realised that I personally have been off track all this while in my bid to self-educate myself.

I won’t bore you further. Just read the article for yourselves, and let him (and me of course) know what your thoughts are on it. You will love it.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Google Faculty Development Workshop -- Day 3

Did Google save the best for last? I don't think so because all the days have been great.
The final day saw participants taken through Google Apps for Education: Calender, Gmail, Google docs. A hands on session on Google+ was also held and that had a lot of engagement as the interaction between the presenter and participants was great.
Baris, a software engineer at Google also had a cool session where he took participants through a typical software design approach used by Googlers. Participants finally decided to build an app to help solve traffic problems in Accra and indeed, in Ghana.
Another brainstorming session was held after the programm when a numberof folks stayed behind for about fifteen minutes after closure, to talk with Baris about malaria and help him understand issues on the ground so as to be well informed to build an infrastructure that can mitigate the harm caused by mosquitoes, and prevent them from 'invading' the rooms of their 'potential victims'.
Baris with some participants discussing malaria

It was a great event and the knowledge base has been really dense.
I do hope to be here next year, and fully help advance the mission of Google in making technology an integral part in education.
Related articles:

Friday, April 27, 2012

The CUCG -- Improved Transport

Since moving to their permanent site in August 2008, the Catholic University College of Ghana has been plagued with a number of challenges. Paramount among them (was) their access road.

A number of pleas have been made to the government and other agencies to come to the institution’s aid and help develop its access road. Thankfully due to a Cocoa Farmers’ Funding Project, the road has been given a face-lift to the joy of not just the university community, but the people of Fiapre (the locality within which the CUCG is sited). Thanks to J. Adom Company Limited – a very good and efficient construction firm based in Sunyani.

Prior to the construction, transportation was a very big issue to students. Drivers refused to ply the road because of its bad nature. Most of them complained of how the road had adverse effects on their vehicles. The school buses were also breaking down constantly. This affected academic work as some students were late for lectures.

It was really heartbreaking to see students on foot after lectures.

Thanks to the contract, transportation has improved. Now I pick a cab from town to the school’s junction, and the driver will ask, “Mi nfa mu nk) campus?” (Can I take you to the campus?). Interesting. A bit funny. There’s even a union of drivers for the CUCG campus! Yes, really.

But these drivers need education. Most of them drive carelessly because of the enhanced road. We do not want accidents on our road!

The community is grateful to the institution(s) that played (and still play) a major role in the project.
Mawu ne yra miakata. Nyame nhyira mu. W) nunts) ni y) ngwE adz) nyE. God bless you.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

First-ever Barcamp Sunyani -- The experience

The first-ever Barcamp event in Sunyani ended almost three hours ago – boy was I blown away (no hyperbole intended). Ideas. Energy. Networking. These were all in full supply at the event, which took place at the FFRT (KNUST-SYI).

A barcamp is simply a FREE networking event that brings individuals together to brainstorm and find solutions to problems affecting their communities and propose ways of developing their communities and the country as a whole. A novel idea, don’t you think?

I attended my first-ever barcamp event in Kumasi, three weeks ago at the KNUST campus. What makes today’s event even more remarkable – apart from the organisation – is the number of ladies present. These ladies were bold and they cogently defended their ideas in a clear manner. Women of substance. Wow. The event also had a number of highlights:

1. A discussion on whether Sunyani is a worthy candidate as the capital city of Ghana? A number of positives and negatives were identified, but in all, we realised it could be the capital of Ghana if enough thought, energy and planning is employed by our leaders.
Sunyani – better known as the Sun City, is simply a town to love. ;-)
2. A representative of the Youth Council implored us to really take part in the on-going biometric voter registration and actually go on to vote. No sitting on the fence. From his speech, I learnt that the word ‘youth’ is not found – not even once – in the 1992 constitution! Can you believe that?
3. Mr. Agbozo, a lecturer at the Catholic University, gave an insightful talk on Entrepreneurship. He shared the results of a survey he carried out in his class based on priorities and surprisingly, achievement was at the bottom while love was fourth. Even learning didn’t place. (No surprise for me.) Good news though is that, barcamp participants decided to change their attitude. This I believe would diffuse and take our youth by storm. Go Ghana!
The next speaker was the General Manager of Eusbett Hotel, Mr. Mensah. He also gave a lot of insight into where Sunyani has come from in terms of development and the opportunities still lurking around. I bet you a number of his ideas would see fruition by the close of the year.
The BloggingGhana crew was also there to talk on their #iRegistered campaign which seeks to cover the registration and voting processes via social media (blogs, tweets, Facebook, Google+, Instagram et cetera.)
4. During the breakout session, a number of topics were discussed:
  • How to develop the Sunyani Township?
  • What GTUG is all about?
  • How to keep Sunyani clean?
  • The (correct) use of Social Media
5. A GTUG coordinator, Jojoo Imbeah, demonstrated how culture can be fused into technology. He actually used the Mozilla Firefox browser in Akan!
6. The last, but definitely not the least highlight was when participants ended the event by singing the national Anthem, “God Bless our Homeland Ghana…”
Participants are of the view that, barcamp Sunyani should be held frequently. Taking into consideration the number of barcamps in the country, I would propose that it is organised twice in a year.
God be the oga, oshe!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

My GRE

A fortnight ago, I took the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) in Accra – daunting, but an essential experience. The GRE is a standard examination that allows individuals gain admission into graduate universities in the United States of America. It is a requirement of many grad schools. It would interest you to know that anxiety got me to the exam center almost an hour earlier than commencement time. Fortunately, the exam environment was comfortable – I felt at home – a result of my teaching in the computer lab mostly. The invigilators were also very welcoming.

As was expected, the Verbal Reasoning sections proved to be an Achilles’ heel; the Quantitative Reasoning was – well, okay. Analyzing the Issue/Argument sections were in a class of their own.

The experience made me realize that preparation indeed should not be underestimated. Juggling studying with work was no fun, but it was necessary. Luckily I had a friend who was also preparing for the exam the same time – we collaborated – not effectively, but it was worth it.

During a study session, I asked a colleague of mine to help me build up my vocabulary. I had an epiphany! He’s from a French background, and this made it easier for him to get the meanings of most of the words I threw at him. This I gathered is because most English words have French, Latin origins and therefore, basic knowledge in these languages is a plus for an individual studying for the GRE. Lesson learnt: Studying a foreign language can be a blessing – even in an English environment. Fact.

Because the exam is computer-based, typing skills are important, especially for the Analyze Issue/Argument sections. Thirty minutes can be pretty much a short time if your typing skills are poor. At a point, I found myself hitting the Ctrl + S keys to save my work – no need, because your work is saved automatically. (Laughs)

And oh, do not be deceived that 4 hours is a long time for an exam. The time will be shorter than you could possibly think of.

Let me know of your experiences as well. Do comment on this post. Thanks.

I wish prospective takers of the GRE all the best. Stay Blessed.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Examination Hall – Irking moments

Finally, I would briefly touch on some irking moments in the examination hall. The Oxford English and the Merriam-Webster’s dictionaries both describe an invigilator as an individual who supervises students/candidates in an examination. Students have however turned invigilators into ‘errand boys/girls’.
As a general rule, you (as a student) are supposed to enter the examination hall with all needed materials: pen, pencil, erasers, sharpener, ruler, calculator, ID cards and what have you. More often than not, you find students calling the attention of the invigilator to collect one item or the other from a colleague of theirs.
You also have individuals who would like to visit the washroom countless number of times! They are generally not allowed though, but it is annoying.
Others write on question papers, when they have been instructed not to do so.
Sometimes you have students just getting up from their seats – without any prompting from an invigilator – and walking out of the examination hall – to urinate! Argh!
Another irking moment is when the invigilator is ready to distribute answer booklets/question papers for the examination to begin, only to find students now busily skimming through their notes and discussing ‘possible’ questions.
Other times, students tend to fidget and talk amongst themselves in the presence of an invigilator even though he/she has cautioned them not to. Why do we as students test the paws of invigilators? It beats my mind.
Another irking scenario – an announcement has been made, probably to correct the mistake in a question, or even an instruction. Moments later, a student asks the invigilator what announcement was made or even a question pertaining to the correction that has already been rectified. Very disheartening.
Let us as students, follow examination rules and regulations and stop annoying and frustrating invigilators.

The Examination Hall – Modus operandi?

Remember I already spoke of the intimidating nature of the examination hall? Well, the presence of invigilators adds to the ‘misery’ of students.
However, some students overcome their fear and write their papers in peace – positively – or negatively.
Positively because, they take their time to read over instructions and questions carefully, understand what is required of them, and confidently answer the questions being posed.
The negative factor is when some students try (and often succeed) outwitting invigilators – by cheating.
A critical point to note here is that all sin is sin, no matter the gravity assigned to it by society.
What therefore is the modus operandi (mode of operation) of such deviants in the examination hall? These include, but not limited to:

  •  The bringing of foreign materials into the examination hall. They prepare ‘small notes’ (a.k.a ‘ginger’) on pieces of papers, handkerchiefs, pencil erasers, their skin (thighs, palms), calculators. I wonder why an individual would spend hours preparing such notes and not learn. It’s silly.
  •  The holding of scripts at angles that permit friends to steal glances and copy from them
  •  The hiding of notes in washrooms and visiting them under the pretence of going to urinate
  •  The swapping of question sheets on which answers have been written
  • Whispering to one another
  • The soliciting of help from invigilators : asking for the spelling of a word, seeking the explanation of a question et cetera
Other means are employed by such ‘cheating’ students who have no shame.
I personally believe that appealing to the conscience of individuals is one way to go about this problem other than the vindictive and forceful approach that is being applied.
Authorities should bear in mind that, if you treat an individual as a child, he/she behaves and thinks like one. Respect students and you are sure to get it back. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Examination Hall – Distractions

Pens communicate with paper vigorously as students write answers to the questions that have been posed by their instructors. Some frantically chew on their pen covers/tops, others fidget ceaselessly. Some stare into the ceiling and some still look for opportunities to have a glance at what their supposed ‘Messiahs’ – sitting by them – have written.
The tension in the examination hall is very great.
Amidst all these, there are other factors at play that make it difficult for the student to fully concentrate. These factors include (but not limited to):
-          Intermittent announcement of the time left on the clock by invigilators

  •           A lady’s beads/thong provocatively signaling one’s eyes for attention (applies to guys)
  •           The thighs of a lady shooting out of her skimpy skirt
  •           Invigilators dragging their feet as they move about (not forgetting the noise made by their shoes)
  •           Some students whistling for attention from friends
  •           Sometimes, some students (girls especially) are distracted by the dresses, hairstyles, nail polishes being worn by their friends
  •           Some students ‘admire’ or even ‘have crushes’ on some invigilators and therefore spend quite an amount of time watching them as they move about the examination hall.
As can be rightly observed, distractions during examinations are essential to the study of human behaviour and how effective people are, under pressure.

The Examination Hall – Setting

So you have been able to learn all you are supposed to before taking the examination. At certain times in your studies, you even doubt your notes and have to confer with friends. It is a normal feeling. You wonder if really what you are studying is even relevant or not. Your adrenaline level fluctuates.
Then it is time to take the examination. Good Heavens! You suddenly turn to God for strength, and prayer becomes the order of the day. If you don’t know how to pray, the sign of the cross is enough. I can only imagine God sitting calmly on His throne and smiling at us – earthlings!
You enter the examination hall and the arrangement is intimidating, not forgetting the thorough search you are subjected to. The desks are three feet apart on all sides. You see invigilators with bloodshot eyes; with hawk-like demeanours, ready to pounce on any chick (student) who goes astray – by not following orders, and more importantly -- cheating. Of course you can’t blame them, when some students, no matter what, are hell-bent on cheating – even if the examination demands them writing the 25 alphabets of the English Language! Absurd!
In our day, we had our index numbers already placed on the desks and so you had to walk to yours quietly and sit down. You and your course mates occupied one entire row. The next row was occupied by another class, and so a row sits in-between you and your mates.  You are not even allowed to rotate your neck to an angle of 45 degrees!
You enter the hall sometimes and you feel like a condemned soul who’s just there to redeem him/herself from bondage.
You get seated and the examinations begin in earnest.
Good luck to us all!

The Examination Hall -- Examinations?

Examination as defined by the Merriam-Webster’s dictionary is an exercise designed to examine progress or test qualification or knowledge.
The Oxford English dictionary defines it as a formal test of knowledge or ability in a subject or skill.
However, it a word most students – if not all – dread to hear. It sends shivers down the spine of some, others just want to take it and get it over and done with, while still others wish they have alternatives to choose from, other than taking the examinations.  I remember a friend who once suggested that, instead of every student writing examinations, a system could be put in place where students are billed for examinations, without actually writing it. I wonder if that is ever feasible in any institution.
If you ask me, I’d say it all comes down to one thing – your perception of examinations.  That influences your approach to this exercise.
Our educational system is such that, students have been, and are being brought up to believe that passing examinations is the surest way to make it in life – as if you life depended on it! Society therefore tags those who get good grades as being intelligent and the unfortunate ones as dullards.
No wonder a lot of examination malpractices go on these days. Who’s to blame?
Personally, I see examinations as platforms to see if students really got the concepts of what they have been taught in class. It’s a form of feedback. Once, as students, we begin to see exams a as a feedback mechanism, other than the perceived punishment, we should be fine.

Please share your views by commenting on this post. Thanks

You may also be interesting in the following articles:
The Examination Hall – Setting
The Examination Hall – Distractions
The Examination Hall – Modus operandi?
The Examination Hall – Irking moments