Ghana has a rich history of education, with a strong emphasis on traditional teaching methods that prioritize rote memorization and textbook learning. However, with the rapid advancement of technology, it is becoming increasingly clear that traditional teaching methods may not be enough to prepare students for the challenges of the modern world. One of the most important tools for modern learning is the smartphone, a device that has transformed the way we access information, communicate, and learn. In this article, we will explore the reasons why Ghana should allow SHS students to use smartphones and other tech tools in class and the benefits this could bring.
Access to Information:
One of the most important benefits of allowing smartphones in the classroom is the increased access to information that they provide. With a smartphone, students can instantly access a wealth of educational resources, including videos, podcasts, e-books, and online courses. This can help students deepen their understanding of a wide range of topics, from science and mathematics to literature and history. Additionally, smartphones can be used to research topics in real-time, allowing students to quickly find answers to their questions and supplement their learning.
Collaboration and Communication:
Another key benefit of allowing smartphones in the classroom is the enhanced collaboration and communication that they enable. Smartphones can be used to facilitate group work, allowing students to share ideas and work together on projects in real time. Additionally, smartphones can be used to communicate with teachers and classmates, whether it is to ask questions, share feedback, or receive support. This can help create a more collaborative and engaging learning environment, one where students can learn from each other and benefit from the collective knowledge of their peers. Some may argue that students may misuse this opportunity and use it as an avenue to engage in various indiscipline acts. Adolescents are naturally curious, adventurous, and explorative.
Questions I always ask opponents of the use of smartphones at the SHS level are: How has the decision to ban smartphones helped in terms of discipline at the SHS so far? Do we have a 100% success rate of SHS discipline? One interesting fact is these same students who are not allowed to use these devices at school are the same students posting nudes on social media and engaging in insubordination toward the elderly. I have realized from experience in handling adolescents that the more you hide these things from them, the more they look for them elsewhere. That is why I believe it should be introduced but with the necessary guidelines and policies.
To Be at Par with the Trending World
With a smartphone, students can access a wide range of educational apps and tools, many of which are designed to adapt to the needs of the student. This can help students learn at their own pace, with content that is tailored to their individual strengths and weaknesses. One important point is the world is moving at a fast pace toward a world where tech is literally used for everything. The traditional teaching methods that involve solely on chalkboard illustrations need to change.
During my SHS days as a math student, the only method I experienced was the teacher solving a bunch of questions on the board, and we were to follow the procedure and use it to solve other similar questions. This is still in practice in most schools in Ghana and other countries. The result of this is that students gain some sort of procedural fluency without any conceptual understanding.
I have had the opportunity to observe how high school students learn in Canada and the approach is worthy of emulation. First of all, the class was filled with iPads, laptops, and smartphones. The students knew when to use them and when to put them away, indicating that there were guidelines and rules to the use of these devices. Tech was present in every aspect of the activities. I wish I could share pictures of how organised the class was in terms of using these devices. But I cannot do that because I would need consent or permission from the students, teachers, principal and the parents and apparently they do not allow that. That is how serious they are with privacy related issues. I was very surprised when a teacher teaching how to graph quadratic functions asked the students to take their iPads and smartphones. The teacher used tools such as Desmos to teach the quadratic graphs and GeoGebra for other aspects of math.
Image of Desmos Tool (Graph of Y=X²)
And in real-life situations, these students will be arguably better suited for the world of work than those who were solely exposed to the traditional methods. This is because these tech tools used in the Canadian classrooms serve as a base point for them when it comes to using the engineer’s AutoCAD Civil 3D, the accountant’s Tally software, or the business marketer’s CRM software, to name a few. These tools are used in industry, and the world is moving in the direction of technology. This is why I think policymakers in Ghana’s education system should rescind their decision to restrain high school students from using these devices in class.
In conclusion, there are many compelling reasons why Ghana should allow SHS students to use smartphones in class. From increased access to information and enhanced collaboration to the fact that the world is moving toward tech. Smartphones can help create a more modern and effective learning environment that better prepares students for the challenges of the modern world. While there are certainly challenges and risks associated with allowing smartphones in the classroom, with the right policies and guidelines in place, these can be minimized and managed. Ultimately, the benefits of allowing smartphones in the classroom far outweigh the risks, and it is time for Ghana to embrace this important tool for modern learning.