Q&A with ARN Researcher: Jane Asantewaa

Written by:

We sat down with ARN researcher Jane Appiah-Okyere and asked her to share her story. Here's what she had to say:

Tell us a little about yourself

My name is Jane Asantewaa Appiah-Okyere, I studied business administration with a concentration in computer networks. In 2001, I obtained my first master’s degree in information systems. Currently, I am a business analyst at Syracuse University, New York, USA. Concurrently, I am pursuing a Doctor of Professional Studies degree in the School of Information Studies at the same institution in May 2024.

My objective is to delve into further research on the use of technology in education, particularly examining the role of Information, Communication, and Technology (ICT). I am also interested in exploring various aspects of educational and national developments to broaden my understanding and gain valuable experience. In addition, I am curious about the potential utilization of the internet backpack in agricultural and medical settings.

What are some of your research interests and why are you passionate about them?

Despite the internet's profound impact on global trade, economic growth, education, and innovation, a significant portion of Africa's population lacks access to it, leading to inequalities in job opportunities and disparities among its citizens.

My primary focus lies in empowering teachers in rural and underserved communities through the deployment of internet backpacks. These tools facilitate internet access for educational purposes, enhancing teaching quality and student learning outcomes. Ultimately, this initiative aims to drive community and national development by bridging the digital divide in education.

What are the most interesting research findings from your work so far?

Some of the exciting findings in my research have been the importance of social capital in rural teachers' digital skills and the gender disparity in Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) usage among both teachers and students.

My research has highlighted the critical role of social capital in enhancing digital skills among teachers in rural areas, as well as the gender disparities in ICT usage for both students and their teachers.

What are some challenges you face in your industry?

My biggest obstacle is obtaining funding to expand this research to other communities.

What is the most promising and/or exciting part of your research work?

Through my initiatives, I have observed the positive impact of providing internet access in the rural community in Ghana. Over the course of a year, both students and the community utilized these resources effectively.

Teachers used the ICT tools provided at the community library to teach their students research and digital skills, while parents proactively brought their children to the library to complete their homework. This initiative has demonstrated the potential to bridge the digital gap and foster educational opportunities in rural and underserved communities.