McKay School master’s graduate Cade Dopp helps education in Ghana through his nonprofit, Educell.
Writer: Ben BluhmCade Dopp is graduating with his master's degree in Instructional Psychology and Technology in BYU’s David O. McKay School of Education and is already teaching teachers—in Ghana. As the founder of Educell, a nonprofit geared toward helping nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in resource-limited areas, Dopp works tirelessly to bring education to those around the world who don’t have access to it.
This year Dopp, in addition to finishing up his master’s degree, has been working with an NGO that serves children in Ghana to help establish learning technology at the school they just built. He is teaching their teachers how to use low-cost tablets, laptops, and Raspberry Pi computers to track student learning and tailor academic activities according to student needs.
“Our school in rural Ghana is employing cutting-edge instructional methodologies that are just starting to catch on in the USA,” Dopp said.
One of these is a competency-based school system. Instead of using the traditional system of placing a child in a grade by term/semester, the student would need to meet a certain criteria in order to advance in school.
They do this electronically, using Dopp’s “digital assessment to determine which competencies students have, and a learning management system to automatically suggest placement options for the students.”
Dopp’s contributions to the people of Ghana also span back to the previous summer. Last year, after winning the Ballard Center Y-Prize Challenge, Dopp went to Dabanyin, a rural village in Ghana. The purpose of his trip was to utilize a technology Ghana already has in abundance, cell phones, as an educational tool.
The country of Ghana does not boast a wealth of technology, but it does have a lot of cell phones. For every 100 citizens there are roughly 130 phones. Because of this surplus, Dopp's project had the traction it needed to take off.
“We were giving students access to a text message-based tutoring system,” Dopp said. “They don’t have access to the internet, but they have access to phones.”
While Dopp has taken off with this project, he didn’t get this far on his own. He received strong faculty mentorship along his path through higher education. He said he was grateful for the opportunity he had to learn from faculty who are “among the brightest minds in their fields.”
Dopp said he loved “sitting in the offices of the people who literally wrote the books about the subjects [he] studied.”
Dopp’s passion for educational technology and serving others is motivated by a sincere love for his fellow man and the principle taught in Matthew 25:40 of the New Testament, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
An experience that continues to fuel his desire to serve the people of Ghana occurred last summer in the village of Dabanyin. He met a boy in an orphanage who had previously lived on the streets for several years. The boy, Kofi (pronounced like coffee), had mental limitations and extreme behavioral problems. It seemed that all of the children and even some of the staff members at the orphanage disliked him. He was often beaten and mistreated.
Dopp became aware of the issue and decided to change how others treated Kofi. Every night, the other children at the home asked Dopp to tell them stories about Jesus before bed. He took that opportunity to teach them the story in Matthew chapter 25. “Jesus taught that whatever we do to those around us, we do it unto Him,” Dopp said. “Some of them audibly gasped,” he recounted, “I knew that the story had touched the boys’ hearts.”
“All of us learned to recognize that Kofi was placed in our path so that we could learn to love more like our Savior does,” Dopp said.
After graduation, Dopp will continue his work with Educell and NGOs in Ghana; he plans to continue his work with educational technology in underprivileged areas for his entire career.
Dopp’s work truly goes to show that the world is our campus, and that each student has the potential to make a difference through the passionate pursuit of their studies.