The Final Post

http://themerlyngroup.com/2013/03/26/digital-business-and-the-fate-of-the-it-organization/

So this is Goodbye.. This course has been one of the most, if not the most, engaging courses I’ve taken in college so far. I have learned many things that I don’t even know what to begin with. Just for fun, I will be summarizing what I liked and what I didn’t like in the form of the Ladders and Snakes game; the ladders will represent activities and assignments that I enjoyed and benefitted from, and traits that I learned, while the snakes will be the things I disliked, or think should improve.

For starters, our first assignment was to create an alternative CV where we talk about ourselves beyond academics and work. This assignment made me feel like I’m more to myself than my major and my internships; I’m a person with history and hobbies that made me who I am at work today where I give out my actual CV. I felt like I finally got to show others who I really am, and I also had the chance to know others in my class and get inspired from their alternative CVs. And then I got to explore digital literacy – what the course is all about – (through reading articles and listening to podcasts) and let me tell you, we have used digital literacy in our assignments and communication throughout the entire semester. For example, I honestly never used to link photos or GIFs in my blogposts, or even posts on social media, if you’ve been following me since the beginning, you will notice that I started linking each and every source I use, even if its just a term. Also, I came to understand that even though real life interactions are very influential, online ones can be just as much. I’m now more accepting, tolerating, and respectful to my online neighbors. I stopped sharing any “memes” or posts that would have someone’s face on them without taking their consent. Sharing something like that just to make my friends laugh does not mean it makes the person involved happy, and we all should definitely take that into consideration. That adds up to the part where I learned about intellectual property rights and fair use, I never really understood the difference between copyright, trademark, and patents, or that my work is automatically copyrighted; I didn’t even know there was such a thing as fair use! That will definitely change the way I write my assignment papers for college from now on. There was also something that influenced me greatly, despite that all videos we watched in class were really interesting and, in an entertaining way informative, there was one in particular that taught me a lot. It was a video about what makes a class difficult and what makes it good, and I believe that our professor, Dr Maha Bali, has tried to implement the techniques mentioned as much as possible. I’ve always wanted to become a university professor and that made me observe teachers’ and professors’ behaviors and techniques throughout my courses. And now, I will definitely keep that video in mind to try to ensure a class that’s as inclusive as possible. The course also taught me that I should always be persistent when it comes to my work and my career. By playing everyone’s narrative games, I learned to respect everyone’s ideas even if I didn’t believe in them, and I believe that this is a very important thing to consider in a work space. Additionally, I learned the value of giving credit to people for their ideas and their work, and this is something that is not very common in the work environment in Egypt and I plan on changing that. I honestly felt like the in class activities and videos helped learn the most because I personally prefer interaction and engagement while learning rather than just reading or listening to something I can’t visualize. Those activities helped change my attitude as previously mentioned, I’ve learned to be more inclusive and understanding of others.

I must say that I also enjoyed playing the digital narrative games and activities in class like spent and BBC Syrian refugee and reflecting on them. I also liked reflecting in class on present matters such as the New Zealand shooting, as we always discussed up-to-date topics. And mostly, I enjoyed the integration of tech use such as our phones because its the most thing we use in our daily lives and we are most likely to hold them during class so instead of playing on our phones and not paying attention we are actually doing a beneficial activity using them.

Things and traits I learned from taking this course.
Image from: https://www.fotolia.com/id/92672802

Moving on to my most valuable learning experience during the course. There are three assignments that I wrote blogposts on that were specifically informative and added much to my knowledge.

Information Equity and Digital Redlining

Those were two very interesting articles about information and privacy. The first article talks about how corporations collect information about us without our knowledge and use that information to manipulate our decisions and choices. The common incident in which internet search engines keep popping ads of things that we might have talked about or even searched before limiting our access to information while its main goal is to provide more access to similar products or topics of interest. This manipulates the users view of a concept or an item convincing them of it when they might have not been really interested in them; thus the political views manipulation. The second article talks about the concept of digital redlining which doesn’t only talk about the issue of digital justice about who has access, but also what kind of access they have and how much information they are allowed to view. Institutions use filters to block access to certain information, seizing its existence to the viewer. In this context, digital redlining is used in discriminatory actions against specific groups. Personally, I have never heard of such topics before and to be able to talk about them in such confidence and detail only shows how much I’ve learned reading and writing about them. If you want to know more in depth about them, you can check my blogpost right here.

NetNarr and Do Not Track

Both assignments tackled very important issues that are unknown or unpopular among the common nations. There are a lot of things wrong with the internet and the people that use the internet, and even more things that are wrong with institutions that provide those services, from shopping websites, search engines, and specially social media. While we might know that we’re being used by the providers of social media platforms, there are a lot more issues that we know nothing about such as big data, cookie policy, phishing, identity theft, terms and conditions, and many other issues that we may ignore without acknowledging their severe consequences on the long run. Moreover, the NetNarr assignment allowed me to contribute to the issues by addressing the upcoming problem of inclusive interconnectivity between all devices we use as home, or what is called The Internet of Things. Additionally, the NetNarr assignment was an idea-exchange program between our class and another class in the States which allowed for the ideas to be very wide, creative, and informative. Check out my post right here.

Contribution Assignment

Last but not least, I had the opportunity to contribute an idea of an assignment or activity that could be used in class next semester. You might think that this is a useless assignment, I mean anyone can think of any video or anything to do. But personally I feel like this assignment reflected our learning in this course. If I truly learned and understood digital literacy, I would be able to develop beneficial content and contribute an idea that would further help others understand digital literacy as much as I did. You can see what I submitted right here.

This is a diagram of some of the things I enjoyed in the course
Image from : https://www.shutterstock.com/image-vector/wooden-ladder-cartoon-vector-illustration-hand-644835376

Things I would Change About The Course

Now, there are a few things I wish were a bit different about the course. The Soliya assignment was a bit too long and too time consuming; however, I understand the importance of intercultural idea exchange. So instead, I suggest that we could make friendly interviews or conversations with the exchange students in AUC. AUC is one of the most diverse communities in Egypt and I feel it would be very interesting to have one-on-one conversations with foreign students; It would also help them make new friends here in Egypt and would give us more in depth insight about whatever questions or topics we discuss with them. Moreover, this would help us discover if the Egyptian culture had changed any of their perspectives about some controversial issues. 😉

Another thing that I didn’t like as much, or benefit from was the CLT symposium. I suggest that instead of having to attend a 2-hour workshop, or 2 one-and-a-half-hour talks, we could maybe attend one talk. And instead, there could be a sign-up sheet at the beginning of the semester where each 2 students or so sign up for a date of a presentation. Every class or two, starting the third week of the semester so the students would be more familiar with the course’s topic, someone would present a video (like a TED talk), an activity (like the digital narratives and fake news games) or present one of the readings that were assigned to the class to contribute to the class’s topic of discussion or the course’s material. That way, instead of attending one talk, we could watch many talks that would also be informative, beneficial, and fun! 😀

Lastly, I had problems with keeping up with the deadlines, assignments, cancelled or changed locations of classes, and other activities. I believe this was a problem in communication as I felt like dates, assignments and announcements were just not in one place. Some were on Slack, others on Blackboard, and others in the class slides. I love the fact that we communicated with the Professor through Slack; it was easier, faster, and less formal; however, Slack has problems with its notifications, or so I believe. Every time I would turn on the notifications, I wouldn’t receive any. So I suggest that we could maybe get important announcements, such as different class locations, cancelled classes, or important assignment deadlines, on Blackboard, or through e-mail rather than on Slack so that everyone would receive them and we would all have the important notes and assignments in one place, and things would be less confusing and more efficient.

This is a representation of the things I had difficulties with.
Image from: https://www.shutterstock.com/search/long+snake+cartoon

Finally, I think that if you’re someone who is curious, wants to learn more about today’s world, and the future of internet and society, if you think of yourself as hardworking and creative and need a course to appreciate and give you credit (like literally extra points) for your creativity and hard work, you should definitely join this class! I guarantee you an experience that is worth all the sleepless nights you’ll spend finishing up the assignments, because you will be rewarded for your efforts.

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