A teacher who resorted to drawing on a chalkboard for his computer skills class because his school in Ghana had no working PCs, has been given a star treatment at an international educators’ conference hosted by Microsoft in Singapore.
Richard Appiah Akoto, 33, is a social media sensation after he posted pictures of himself painstakingly sketching out a mock-up of a Microsoft Word screen in colored chalk on his classroom blackboard.
“My students have some knowledge about computers, but they don’t know how to actually operate one,” he said in an interview today at the Educators Exchange conference – on what was his very first trip outside of his country.
But showing his class of 47 teenagers how to use a PC posed a fundamental problem for Richard as the school’s only computer and his own personal laptop were both broken.
“I wanted to teach them how to launch Microsoft Word. But I had no computer to show them. I had to do my best. So, I decided to draw what the screen looks like on the blackboard with chalk,” he said. “I drew the features and labeled them correctly so that they would know what-was-what. Then I drew what you would see on your computer screen after launching Word.
“I have been doing this every time the lesson I’m teaching demands it. I’ve drawn monitors, system units, keyboards, a mouse, a formatting toolbar, a drawing toolbar, and so on.
“The students were okay with that. They are used to me doing everything on the board for them. When I did this, it was nothing new or strange for them.”
But the rest of world thought it was something extraordinary after he posted his efforts on social media. Pictures him by chalkboard went viral and make world headlines. As well as thousands of likes, Richard – who uses the social media pseudonym of Owura Kwadwo Hottish – got pledges of help from around the world.
Microsoft will be working with Richard through a local partner in Ghana to provide device and software support required for his students at the Betenase Municipal Assembly Junior High School in the town of Sekyedomase in rural Ghana. He will also gain access to the Microsoft Certified Educator Program (MCE) for professional development, so he can nurture his passion for teaching and build rich, custom learning experiences for his students.
“Something very positive has come out of this and I am very happy. We are no longer going to use the chalkboard again. We will have computers.”
Richard received a long ovation when he appeared on stage at the Education Exchange conference, which brought together almost 400 educators and school leaders from 91 countries to discuss the role of technology in education.
Anthony Salcito, Vice President, Worldwide Education at Microsoft, praised him for overcoming major obstacles to help his students. “Your work has really inspired the world. It really shows the amazing innovation and commitment and passion that teachers have for helping their students get ready for the future,” he said.