| March 23, 2011

iRead Challenges


By Joseph Botwey

This is what happens when the cement contractor cancels at the last minute

In December, Worldreader wrote about possible challenges of using e-reader technology in our iRead pilot– with 500 e-readers in Ghana.  We predicted many of them, and other unforseen ones have cropped up as well.  At Adeiso SHS, they had a delay in laying concrete onto the classroom’s dirt floor and the students had to have class outside for a few days–not the best environment for e-readers.  Also, if you follow the news in Ghana, you know there’s a country-wide teacher strike for the past two weeks–the largest in Ghanaian history.

Any time you do a project like ours, you are susceptible to uncontrollable outside forces–which unfortunately can affect your operations, forcing you to adjust things a bit.  Our model deeply incorporates teachers but at the same time we are encouraging students to seek out knowledge independently.  While some students are taking to e-readers like ducks to water, e-readers are still very new and will take time for people to adjust habits.  Since some of our teachers haven’t been to school in some time, we decided to harness the competitive spirit of the students in the iRead pilot and hold reading competitions.  Our Director of Digital Publishing, Elizabeth Wood, drafted up a series of questions from local favorites like Champion RunnerAnanse and the Pot of Wisdom, and The Golden Forest.  To give you an idea–the questions for Junior High School on The Golden Forest were: 1. What illness does Kwabena suffer from? (Yaws), 2. What fruit does Kwabena sister rub on his skin? (lime), 3. When Kwabena drops his lime in the river, what does the river give him? (a fish), 4. Who takes the fish from Kwabena? (Sansa, the hawk), 5. What does the hawk give Kwabena? (a feather), 6. What does Kwabena find under the stump at the end? (a pot of gold).  The students did a great job and actually informed us that the questions were too easy!   We’re working on new ones today.

Students showing their prizes- exercise books, pencils and sharpeners