CLT 15th anniversary: P2

This post is a continuation (hence P2) of reflecting on CLT’s 15th anniversary, although I must say that I lost my notepad where I wrote notes for the event, and have been trying to look for it for the past few days. So I’ll be resorting to memory, unfortunately.

I attended Dr. Nagla Rizk’s talk in her area of research and its relation with teaching. She works with a team in order to amend the rules to serve the people’s intellectual property in the creative industry. She goes on to mention her participation in the Doha debates under the title “Education is worthless without freedom of speech/expression.” And I really liked the way she turned the argument around, when she said that education might be worth less without freedom of speech, but it is never worthless in sense that it a lot of times fosters curiosity and makes us question.

The emphasis on learning is important because of the fact that there are so many sources of knowledge now, and so the exposure to this knowledge is important, and so is the importance of identifying the reliability of this knowledge before taking it in. And I think this is why a lot of professors assign textbooks. (She mentions that she doesn’t like that) But I feel sometimes that without a textbook, information can be overwhelming. And even though digital technologies, has enabled the availability and accessibility of so much information, and also being able to utilize this information outside the class, using it must include a critical thinking aspect.

In her courses, Dr. Rizk incorporates the digital aspect of the curriculum in her Digital Economy course and also allows the students to research on topics relevant to them within the scope of the course, and applying community based learning within the course in the sense that they write about things related to the course but with different social lenses. (gender for example) (Question: Is this applicable on all courses? Also: Can this be applied in a way that doesn’t add to the course’s difficulty level?)

This type of engagement is in my opinion crucial because it does many things. It brings classmates together if they are researching about a topic that is interesting to them, it allows engagement with technology in the context of the course, and at the same time allows students to explore beyond the horizon of the textbook and classic context.

She also talks about how students can engage with and contribute to the pool of knowledge, and not be passive receivers, and this reminds me a lot of net neutrality. That ownership of information entails power, and this is why search engines a lot of times control what we see of search results; and when we are more engaged with online content we have more control over this part of the information. (Can’t really put it in any other way)

Speaking of power, she mentions that sometimes metrics for innovation are set by people who might be biased, and this should be questioned and analysed.

I was also around when the idea of AUC diaries was presented, in which students would talk about their daily life through podcasts. I think this idea is fast and accessible for people who don’t prefer writing for example. It would be nice to have this idea sustaining for a while to see how different events happening around are talked about and perceived through different eyes. Keeping such kind of documentation though will eventually require a large amount of space, whether on the cloud or through memory storage. So I’m wondering what kind of platform is being used here to maintain all these archives.

Tara Keenan from John Cabot University also gave a small talk about student directed improvement, where she let students fill in a blank rubric and later on evaluate themselves and/or each other’s writing work. The involvement of students in activities like this, in my opinion, builds empathy and lets students in on how grading is sometimes a grey area rather than a yes/no/right/wrong thing.

There are other things that I attended but I was relying on my notes to be able to recall a lot of things. Hopefully if I stumble across that writing pad anywhere I should get going. However, I think the event overall exposed me to a lot of learning and teaching techniques, the way professors think and respond to different types of students, and how the use of technology can be the common and recurring theme despite the presence of different cultures and educational backgrounds and can be utilized in so many different contexts and subjects. This gives me hope that maybe someday, more faculty from different *hint hint* majors can join and benefit from such experiences.

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