Nature, scope and content of the digital directory

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This chapter describes the nature, scope and content of the digital directory in reference to the topic Contemporary Ghanaian Artists in the General Knowledge in Art textbook used in the senior high schools as a supplement and updated version in a digital format.

The section describes the strategies adopted to find answers to the research questions outlined for the study.

3.1 Rationale for the Study

The rationale for this study is based on designing a digital directory in reference to the topic Contemporary Ghanaian Artists in the General Knowledge in Art for Senior High Schools and updating this work on a compact disc. The study seek to accomplish three goals: First, it should report the findings on the use of the personal computer in the teaching/learning of visual art programmes in Ghanaian senior high schools if any. Second, it should come up with a current digital directory version of the Contemporary Ghanaian Artist treated in the General Knowledge in Art textbook to be used with a personal computer during the visual art period on the school timetable. Third, the research study must analyse the practicability of this digital directory being used through a pre-testing on a selected group or senior secondary school and tertiary students.

3.2 Research Methodology

Traditionally, the image that comes to mind for many people when they consider the term "research" probably looks something like this: A solitary person hunches over a stack of books in a remote corner of a library or a scientific experiment in a laboratory late at night, taking notes and recording information.

According to Webster (1985), to research is to search or investigate exhaustively. It is a careful or diligent search, studious inquiry or examination especially investigation or experimentation aimed at the discovery and interpretation of facts, revision of accepted theories or laws in the light of new facts or practical application of such new or revised theories or laws, it can also be the collection of information about a particular subject.

Research is the process by which people conduct inquiry, by which they systematically collect information for contribution to a greater, established body of knowledge. This process can and does encompass many different methodologies and practices. Research can take the form of a person using library resources or conducting an experiment alone, and such work is usually important for establishing a context for other information seeking endeavours. However, research can also involve one person asking a series of questions from an interview protocol and recording the responses, several people having a focused discussion about a particular issue, or even 500 people filling out a survey whose results are compiled, tallied, analysed and interpreted.

Two distinguishing features of research are the fact that it needs to be conducted according to generally agreed-upon methods in order to be considered true research, and the fact that the results of the research process are meant to be shared with others. These features illuminate the social aspects of what is often considered to be a solitary process; in the context of research, the methods by which information is sought and analysed, and the reasons it is collected, are at least partly social in nature.

According to Shulman (1988, p.3) "method is the attribute which distinguishes research activity from mere observation and speculation". Denzin and Lincoln (1994, p.12) describe a five-step process for conducting scholarly educational research, for instance, and a quick examination of some educational research journals indicates that for the most part, educational scholars and authors utilize this process in some form.

The qualitative research methodology was employed for this study. This method investigates the quality of relationships, activities, situations or methods. Qualitative research also emphasizes more on holistic description, that is, on describing in detail all that goes on in particular activity or situation, rather than comparing the effects of a particular treatment (Fraenkel & Wallen 2000).

Since this research seeks to investigate the nature of using the personal computer in teaching and learning visual art programmes in Ghanaian senior high schools, this method was considered appropriate.

The research dwelt on three of the prominent features or Qualitative Research methodology for findings.

The natural setting was the direct source of data, and the researcher was the key instrument. In this case, the natural setting was the selected sampled Artists document profile. This was considered appropriate because the researcher had to go directly to this source to gather the data and thereafter, interview the artists involved for any additional information. A considerable amount of time was spent in the schools interviewing visual art teachers, students, some school officials and observing visual art lessons.

Data was collected in the form of words or pictures rather than numbers. Data collected therefore is contained in the selected Ghanaian Artist's document profile and works in Ghana. In the report therefore, attempt has been made at updating and filling the gap as treated in the General Knowledge in Art textbook for the senior high schools as it exist in the sampled schools but not to numerical symbols. Rather they have been described as they were observed or told.

The research also sought to investigate how students and teachers (especially art teachers and students) make sense of using the personal computer in teaching and learning art programmes in schools.

Qualitative research method will be used to complete the final report.

3.3 Data collection

The data collected during this study enabled the researcher to answer the research questions he posed at the beginning of the study. The research generally focused on the subjective experience and perception of the research topic in teaching and learning visual art using ICT. The researcher was the key instrument of data collection. Tools used included open personal interviews, field notes, 'conversations', on-site visits to artist's studios/workshops, etc and observing practical teaching to gather data for this study (Tuckman, 1988).

3.3.1 Interviews

Interview conducted for the study were informal, and in the form of conversations (Fraenkel & Wallen 2000) with teachers, students and selected Contemporary Ghanaian Artists in Ghana. They did not involve any specific type of sequence of questions or any particular form of questioning.

The interviews which were conducted personally by the researcher primarily sought to find out what aspect of the visual art topic at the senior high school can be taught using the personal computer and whether the ICT syllabus had any relevance to the teaching of art subjects using the personal computer. Selected art students and teachers and some school heads were also interviewed to seek their opinion on the project. The contemporary artists interviews was an attempt of knowing them based on their life, works and contributions to art. This enabled the researcher build a fresh list of contemporary artists of our time in a digital format.

Observation has a long tradition in the social sciences: for example, it has been extensively employed by psychologists (Irwin, l980; Brandt, 1981; Liebert, 1995) and by educational researchers (Foster, 1996b). Looking from a more sociological perspective, Adler and Adler (1994) review five 'observational paradigms' which can be distinguished in the way observational methods have been used, and give several examples of each.

Observation includes listening as well as looking and everyday face-to-face interaction depends heavily on both verbal and visual behaviour. Therefore, alongside observation, contemporary ethnomethodologists have directed much of their attention to conversation analysis, since they see language as the fundamental base of communication and social order. Using audio- and videotaping, they gather data that can be analysed later, and repeatedly in minute detail, and the techniques of conversation analysis have been extended to interaction analysis (Heath and Luff 1996).

The use of video-based data can be seen as a method of supplementing other data. Williams and Clarke (2002) take up this issue of triangulation in classroom video research, in particular, the contribution of the 'student voice' to research methodology. They believe that validity is improved by providing extra sources of data to supplement video-based observation. Plowman (1999) also used a range of other data sources to triangulate with her video-based data, pointing out that video does not capture unobservable processes such as thoughts, attitudes, feelings and perceptions. Walker (2002) believes video-based data helps the reader to perform their own validity checks: ... access to the video ... shifts our gaze, exercises our capacity to triangulate and amplifies our appreciation of the complexities of classroom interaction" (p. 119). The researcher employed the video to capture his interviews based on the above advantages video play in research work.

3.4 Study area and population Studied

The target population for this research work is all artist of our time. Due to the nature of the population, and the heavy scheduled of these artists, the researcher rather choosed the convenient sampling technique. Therefore the sample population in this study consisted of five selected contemporary artists viz; Benjamin Menah (Painting), Mrs Vesta Adu-Gyamfi (Ceramics), Mrs Joyce Stuber (Graphic Design), Samuel Opoku (Sculpture) and Dr S K Amenuke (Art Education).

3.5 Reporting of Results

Results of the study was grouped into three: findings from the teaching/learning of visual art programmes with ICT in senior high schools, the design of the digital directory and the results from the pre testing of the digital directory on a compact disc.

3.5.1 The Digital Directory Design

The digital directory would provide information and photographs of the selected contemporary artists in Ghana for tertiary Art Education. Data and pictures as well as, informal interview was used to put up a write about the Artists Profile, gather their works into a digital gallery.

An agreement page is created at which the student is requested to either accept to explore the compact disc or decline. Subsequently after the student has accepted to explore the compact disc, the student is taken to the home page where photographs of the selected artists are displayed.

Each displayed photo has a link to the artist exclusive page; this page gives the student access to the artists' profile, gallery. The student is able to print, search the page, return to the previous page or exit from this page and also visit the artist gallery.

Apart from the agreement page and the home page, the other pages are built based on a template html for the various artists.

3.6.2 Pre Testing of the Digital Directory

Pre-testing of the digital directory was done with a visual art class of Winneba Senior High School and first year art education students of the University of Education, Winneba to find out the practicability of the interactivity of the digital directory and to link up the activities with the kind of Art Education provided in the schools. The Winneba Senior High School class consisted of Forms Two and Three. Form One was not chosen because at the time of the study, Form One students had not treated the topic contemporary Ghanaian artists and therefore stood in a very good position to use the digital directory when it's time to treat that topic.

The pre testing involved series of activities. Practical activities are in two sections: The first one comprised the introduction. The second is made up of students locating the drive 'd' of the personal computer to read the compact disc if it does not start automatically and ending the lesson.