Teacher's Blackboard Makes Computer Screen Come Alive

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March 1, 2018

Teaching children how to use a computer without using a computer to demonstrate is a reality for many. One teacher in Ghana takes up his chalk and goes to work.

Richard Akoto is a teacher at the Betenase M/S Junior High School in Kumashi, a city that is 250 miles away from Accra, Ghana's capital city. He teaches information and communications technology. He teaches his students many things about computers, by drawing on the blackboard.

Computer screen on a chalkboard

Akoto uses colored chalk and his own drawing skills (and legible handwriting) to make a computer screen come to life. His vivid blackboard recreations of what students would see, if they had a computer in front of them, went viral, after Akoto posted on Facebook (under his online identity, Owura Kwadwo Hottish) photos of himself and his drawings.

Akoto studied computers at the Kumasi Technical University, and he does have a computer at home; that computer, however, doesn't travel, Akoto said, because of a weak battery.

Students don't have computers in front of them at school or at home, and the school has no computers, either. (The rural school hasn't had a computer since 2011.) Still, Akoto says it's his job to teach his students how to use a computer, using how to use popular software applications like Microsoft Word. He wants his students to be ready to go when they are in front of a computer. He also wants them to be able to pass a national examination that includes questions on information and communication technology.

Were the students put off by seeing a computer screen drawn on a chalkboard, he was asked. No, he replied, because they see everything drawn on a blackboard. He has also drawn blackboard illustrations of a keyboard, a mouse, a mouse, a dialog box, a formatting toolbar, and more.

Viewers of his Facebook post commented on his painstaking detail in his chalkboard drawings. He studied graphic design and art when he himself was in school. He also said that he got good practice at drawing computer screens and other things because he taught in a shared classroom, in which teachers shared everything–desks, equipment, and the chalkboard. Akoto estimated that it took him 30 minutes each day to draw something as intricate as a computer screen.

The online post has drawn many, many comments. Akoto is hoping that computers are something that he will also soon see. Microsoft Africa has also promised to send a computer to the school.

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