Representatives from Haaga-Helia and the education software company Eduix Ltd, visited Ghana in September 2022 to promote digitalization of education.
The purpose of the visit was to make a supportive intervention in two universities Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ) and University of Ghana (UG)), and to collect data about their education digitalization trials done so far. We also met representatives of three other universities, Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), Knutsford University College, Klintaps College of Health and Allied Sciences, as well as Vice Chancellors Ghana and Ghana Digital Centres ltd.
During the trip, we gave several short lectures about digitalization and especially thesis process digitalization, which is one of the main topics of the project. In addition, our programme included workshops and focus group meetings, as well as individual interviews.
The universities in Ghana are on a good path with a promising attitude
What is remarkable for all these meetings and sessions was the clearly positive attitude towards education digitalization. The information gathered from focus group sessions and interviews show, that there clearly is a readiness for education digital transformation.
Some lecturers have already developed their own practices to get help in digitalizing the thesis process. For example emails, WhatsApp, Turnitin and several spreadsheets and other documents were used to minimize the manual, paper and pen based activities. However, the competence and enthusiasm of individual people does not yet produce uniform practices or meaningful data for the organization to use in tracing, steering and decision-making.
During digitalization, the processes should be harmonized and improved. Also, reliable and usable data should be collected for decision-making, and all user groups need helpful and easy to use tools for coping with their tasks and responsibilities. Good software is not enough, the process improvements and change management must be taken care of as well.
Not that long ago, we in Finland were at the same starting point
How does all this relate to Finland? When I started as a thesis coordinator several years ago in Haaga-Helia, we were exactly in the same situation with thesis process management and supervising as the universities in Ghana.
Some supervisors had their own spreadsheets, some utilized Moodle or even Facebook, and too many activities were purely done on paper. I had all students’ topic proposals as paper versions in several physical folders (one per year), and no-one had proper means to follow what was really happening with the thesis projects.
Developing a helpful and easy to use tool (Wihi) took some time and making change happen took even more time. Now we have used Wihi since 2019. The thesis process is both harmonized and improved, reliable data is generated for decision making, and the tool is considered useful for all user groups.
However, although we have succeeded in digitalizing one education process, there is still more to do in education digitalization at Haaga-Helia. In 2020 we started to digitalize Haaga-Helia’s internship process. As always, developing the software is an easy part. Making change happen, overcoming all organizational barriers and breaking change resistance takes much more time.
Always before the start of a new digitization project, we are at the starting line, regardless of whether we are in Ghana or Finland or somewhere else. This is a fact good to keep in mind in all digitalization projects.
The visit to Ghana is a part of the Education digitalization transformation (Eduditra) project, that aims to find effective ways to conduct education digital transformation, especially in developing economies.
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