This course was a very interesting one, it helped me become a better person in a way, both professionally and personally. I learnt how to think more critically about everything around me, learnt about new cultures from our global citizenship topic as well as through the unique experience of Soliya. It was probably the course I benefitted from the most since attending university. Going into this class I had no idea what to expect, I thought it would be one of those extra liberal arts courses that I’ll take, read the content to, answer assignments, and forget all about it once the semester is over. But oh how wrong I was. Not only was the content actually useful in developing my identity and expanding my skill set, but it was also very fun! I got to know a lot about other students, all of us speaking our mind freely, seeing our classroom as a safe environment. We were able to hear each other’s perspectives about issues that we wouldn’t necessarily talk about during everyday conversations with people our age. We were all different ages, different educational backgrounds and different interests, which made the in-class conversations and reflections always interesting and captivating, helping a lot with how we absorbed the information or message trying to be sent.
1. Starting off with one of the main topics we studied this semester: Digital Literacy. I believe that Digital Literacy in general, with all its aspects, is extremely important as a whole. I don’t think I can choose one certain aspect that I find more important than the others… They even all link in a way; for example, to find and evaluate information you need to be able to use digital tools well, to have a deeper understanding rather than just having the skills, which ultimately leads to the need of being safe in a digital environment, which links to your digital identity (how you present yourself online and what you allow people to know about you) etc. And so in this sense it is all intertwined, making it hard for me to simply choose one. However, I do understand that not being safe in your digital environment and mis-presenting your digital identity can cause certain personal problems (like hacking, phishing and so on), and so in this sense I think the first thing anyone should learn about, or at least be aware of, is this aspect. Especially as nowadays children as young as the age of 7 are now using social media and other platforms, without understanding the hazards (as well as the older generation who are also considered to be new to the digital world).
Seeing as this course is literally named “Digital Literacies”, we worked a lot on the topic. We did both assignments and in-class discussions, starting off with Exploring Digital Literacies. In this assignment we were learning about the concept of digital literacies while doing so by improving the way we research and our general digital use. It was the first time I was ever introduced to this concept, and it was very interesting to see how a relatively new concept was defined differently by people all around the world. We then went on to look at Digital Narrative Games. When doing so, I realised the importance of using the digital platform for doing good: its power in delivering a message and raising awareness. Which was why I enjoyed developing my own digital narrative game about Street-Sweepers. The effect of being digitally literate and using those skills really hit me when I saw the feedback of people, both teachers and students. Some didn’t know about all the injustice street-sweepers were facing, and some were emotionally affected by the images I used, and so it made me happy in a way, even though I didn’t help with improving their conditions, I still made more people aware about their situation, which maybe one day will help them in a way. Simply put: one narrative game made on a simple platform could have the power to change the minds of people all around the world.
To learn about this better maybe we could have focused more on things like our games, that would actually make a difference. We could have tried to physically go out and use the digital world to directly make someone’s day, or raise awareness about a certain topic in our community. Also, it was convenient that we used platforms already familiar to us (such as Google Forms & Slides) to show how digital literacy can be used, however I would have found it interesting if we had focused on using other platforms we weren’t familiar with, so that not only would it help us in creating the game, but it may also help us with our digital skills in our careers.
2. Intercultural Learning is extremely important and everyone should be aware of it. It allows you to be able to interact with people who aren’t like you, who’ve had a different upbringing, and maybe even live on the other side of the planet! It tries to remove the barriers of communication between people, to allow you to have the most beneficial and enjoyable conversation possible. To be an intercultural person, the most important aspect is personal, it is the base of intercultural learning; you need to work on yourself first in order to remove any barriers you may be unknowingly placing, such as stated in the Binna Candola talk, where you need to think of what you’re saying and assess it, by doing think you’ll ensure a smoother conversation that will help everyone. And so this is the most important aspect, which ultimately links to communication. When you’re able to present yourself eloquently there should develop a mutual respect and understanding between you and others. And with this comes the fact that you’re able to try to understand other’s point of views, trying to put yourself in their shoes, which will eventually bring out the similarities between everyone, instead of focusing on the differences that may seem the most prominent at first.
The most prominent thing we worked on is Soliya. We were placed in groups with around 6 other people, who we didn’t know, from all around the world, from America to Tunisia and so on. In this we were forced to communicate for 2 hours per week (see: final reflection). The readings they gave us were concerning global issues like global warming, and so when we came to discuss those issues in the sessions it was easy for us to connect and get the conversation going, helping with our intercultural experience and with getting used to each other in the beginning. When we started to get used to each other, we started to ask each other questions about our different lives. I learnt a lot about American culture and so did they with Arab culture and they were especially interested in Islam. All this curiosity made us learn how to ask respectful questions, and not offend anyone unintentionally, developing our intercultural skills.
One thing that could be changed is the fact that, as discussed in class, we could have chosen the shorter version of Soliya, the one where there is no final project. That way, the conversations could be more spontaneous in a way, as towards the end we were mainly focussing on discussing topics to do with our final project, limiting what we wanted to say. And so, if carried out in a different way we could benefit more in terms of general knowledge and working on those intercultural skills.
3. Global Citizenship was extremely interesting to me personally, it helped me gain another understanding of what citizenship is. I had never thought of it so deeply, always blatantly thinking it concerned the type of passport I’ve got and what the ‘legal papers’ say. I think the most important aspect of global citizenship is globalisation. Being a citizen now in the 21st Century isn’t the same as it was a long time ago. Now communication is easier than ever, and the world is globalised with trade deals every where and where there is the free flow of labour. And so there has to be globalisation in a personal sense, since everything around us is globalised. To keep up with everything worldwide you need to be globalised and in-touch in order to progress personally and professionally. We need to be up-to-date with world problems and major issues and have a modern view about social and controversial topics.
I enjoyed Dr.Jason Dorio’s talk, where he came to present to us the idea of global citizenship, what it meant a long time ago and what it means now. What really helped was the fact that he used pictures and related it to Egypt, like the picture of a donkey-cart in front of a McDonald’s restaurant, showing how westernisation impacts countries all over the world, therefore becoming ‘globalised in a Western sense’. It was also interesting to see how Americans in Soliya had certain stereotypes about Egypt and Arabs in general, thinking we were not technologically advanced and didn’t know American brands for clothes and so on. But when we told them we have most of their restaurants and clothing brands they were surprised, and it actually made me realise how affected by the West we are, but how they aren’t ‘globalised’ in a way as they didn’t know much about other cultures, even though we’re considered to be globalised because we understand a lot about their culture.
To improve, maybe we can delve more into global citizenship, maybe test out how globalised each one of us is, if we can create some sort of scale and see why each person may have a different globalisation level. We can also look at how globalised the West are in terms of understanding the East, and how this came to be in history. We can look at other countries all around the world, whether developed or not, and see if this impacts how globalised their citizens are.