Dedicated to truly educate his students and help them pass national exams, Ghanaian teacher Richard Appiah Akoto set out do the near impossible: teach his students to use a computer in the absence of one.
In order to progress to high school, students are required to pass an information and communication technology exam. Without the opportunity to actually see and navigate devices, gaining this knowledge becomes a challenge. Armed with a blackboard and multicolored chalk, ICT teacher Akoto would spend 30 minutes a day painstakingly drawing a Microsoft Word processing window on the school’s one blackboard in efforts to explain how computers work. He posted one of his daily drawings on Facebook, commenting that he loves his students and will do what it takes to make them understand what he is teaching.
What Akoto thought was a normal Facebook post went viral. It was noticed by a Cameroonian tech entrepreneur, who tweeted about him and tagged @MicrosoftAfrica in effort to obtain assistance for him. Microsoft promptly praised his efforts, and promised him a device, access to the Microsoft Certified Educator program, and free professional development resources. Finally, they flew him out to the annual Microsoft Educators Exchange in Singapore.
It turns out that Richard has been drawing elements of technology/ programs for a while. “I have been doing this every time the lesson I’m teaching demands. I’ve drawn monitors, system units, keyboards, a mouse, a formatting toolbar, a drawing toolbar, and so on,” Akoto commented. When NPR asked if learning Microsoft Word on a chalkboard assisted Ghanaian kids in entering the digital age or was a cruel reminder that they were lacking equipment, Akoto gave an eloquent response. “They are lacking more than just equipment.”
Akoto believes that his story has been shared all over the world because of how he detailed the Microsoft Word chalkboard illustration. But perhaps it was because it showcased one man’s determination to educate children in the quickly-evolving field of technology, despite the barriers. His inspirational story perfectly highlights how digital transformation can exist in all fields, places, and peoples, and make us rethink daily life and the opportunities we have to evolve, adapt, and improve.