The Finale

Although this course has come to an end, I can confidently say that it has been the most fruitful core curriculum course I have enrolled in through my four years journey in the university. This happened due to the diversity in the topics, assignments, and activities we covered in it.

My learning Journey

The first thing that I learned about myself is that I am not bad in writing blogs, especially that I am not that kind of person to share anything on social media platforms (may be now I could give it a shot). Something that surprised me that I am still trying to figure out how it happened is my participation in Soliya program. As I did not expect this at all, I did not participate in any class or in conversations as I did in Soliya. But the one thing I am sure of is that it made me realize that I should try to participate more in classes as it I have seen positive direct effects on me.

The new thing that I was exposed to in this course is when we did an activity about how to get a picture about something that had Creative Commons on it. As I never knew that such a thing existed, all that I knew that it is only about citations and this is it. Another very important that caught my attention is when we were viewed some news and had to check for their integrity and validity. I learned that there are different ways to check that, especially if these sources weren’t academic. With the aid of these techniques it will be more effective for me to check almost all kinds of sources throughout my academic life.

I would say that the most that will have an impact on how I can maintain a dialogue, I would definitely choose Soliya. Because of it I learned what is a dialogue, how to start it, how to maintain it, and how to benefit from it. However, the real thing I would always keep in mind, thanks to Soliya, is that if I was offended by someone I should mention that to him/her as it is just could be his/her way of communication. Although it is a simple thing, yet it is a powerful communication skill. I believe some of the videos that was presented to us either by the Dr. Maha Bali or some of our colleagues helped me to keep in mind how to communicate with people, especially those from different cultures. For example, we were showed videos that discussed how stereotyping happens and how we may not be aware that we are not joking but offending the other person, or the videos of things not to say as they benefit anyone who watches them to be more considerate when talking to people.

One of the main pillars of this course that was brought up directly and indirectly throughout the semester is that it is very crucial to be a contributor to the digital world. To be able to create useful content no matter what my field is. The assignments I did sharpened my skills as I posted them on different platforms, the talks I attended and watched (CLT Symposium) discussed why not only get better at finding sources on the internet while we can also upload our own findings in order for others to benefit from them.

The top three things I would show them to people to know about the course

The first thing I would show to anyone from this course would be the digital game I created, Clean Pile. Guess What!!! I already did that with my friends in the first phases of developing the game as I made them try it to give me feedback on it. As I came to the last phases of ending the development my game, I discovered that one of my friends was doing a project in another course where he chose to find an area where people throw garbage in the streets, then he would have to clean it and find a way to be able to sustain that this area will remain clean from this point on. So, I offered him to use my game in his class to promote for his awareness about the topic. That is why I think I will keep using it because it raises an awareness about an important topic, it shows how I could contribute toward solving a problem using digital tools, and it is kind of a cool thing I am happy I made!!!

The next thing I would show to my friends or anyone who is interested would be the post I made about exploring digital literacies as the first thing that people would ask me if I told them I took “digital literacies” course would be what does this word mean?! I believe this blogpost would give an insight about what this course might be teaching, and it will point them toward, especially if they had not heard about it, the fact that this term exists and that they need to think again of the importance of digital literacies in today’s world.

The last thing I would show to someone would be my blogpost about Information Equity and Digital Redlining. This one made me realize not to take the information we gain from the internet for granted and that they do have a value but we just need to interpret in a right way. Accessing the internet is very important, the fact that some websites are “banned” for whatever reasons is actually limiting the people’s freedom as they will be missing very important sources of knowledge that could limit their learning process or make them more vulnerable to participate in hate speech. Beside all of that, this blogpost shows how deep we get in this course and how important is the process of digital literacies as it makes sure that every step of the way is done correctly beginning from accessing the internet till adding content to it.

Things that could have been better

If I could change something about the course to improve it, I would have introduced a new digital platform to help us to contribute a more appealing content. I remember when someone working in the university came to our class to help us to become more familiar with google forms and google slides to be able to develop our games. However, I believe that this could have been done if we just watched a 2-minute video on YouTube, considering that some of us may already have experience with them. I think that it could have been better if someone came to the class and introduced to a new digital platform, for example making animated videos, and gave us a tutorial on how to make them.

I really benefited from the videos some of our colleagues presented to us, but I wish there were more of them to maximize the benefit. That is why I would suggest that each one in class has to at least once present a short video anytime during the semester. The video has to be related to the core or the topics covered in the course.

Another thing that became very hard for me to catch up with was where to check for deadlines, announcements, or last minute changes. I had to check my email, then blackboard, then slack. the main problem with slack is it does not show any notifications unless I am mentioned, then it would send the notification to me through email. I liked slack because it made communication with the professor way easier and faster and less formal. However, I would suggest that any announcement or deadline to be communicated through the blackboard but when it comes to asking about something or trying to understand it, slack will be the better choice.

The perfect personality

I believe that someone who is interested in getting to explore more on how the digital world have the potential to be a great source of knowledge, has a vision that he/she wants to implement through digital platforms, creative in displaying the content for the general public, and good communication skills will be needed to be able to interact with the class and people from other cultures.


Contribution to the course

After what I learned in the course(will be mentioned in my next post), I think that what could be important to digital literacies is that one need to know how to make a kind of interactive videos as they are one of main privileges we had due to the technological advancements.

I suggest that an introduction to making animated video should be presented to the students of the course. I found a website called to Animaker, which one can make very cool animated videos easily. This video shows a very brief introduction about them.

The website contains a lot of tutorials that will teach anyone how to make different types of videos. I signed up to check if it is good or not. First thing was that I found that I can create a video from scratch or I can pick a template from the website. After I chose a template, I was introduced to tutorials that will help me with everything. The website is very modern and it contains a lot of material that can be used to produce useful content. However, the problem is that I found this website to have a subscription with different plans. Of course there is free subscription but it has limited functionalities. You can check their plans if you are interested. I think that this tool should be taught to the students of the course and to be assigned to them either as a new option when developing the game or as an assignment in the course(considering the difference in the requirements).

Egychology and Digital Literacies

For those who do not know Egychology, it is a YouTube channel that tries to present a variety of topics ranging from psychology, history, physics, chemistry and many other scientific related videos. The channel was founded in the summer of 2014 by Ahmed Samir, who is a mechanical engineer that graduated from AUC. I believe it has some similarities to the famous YouTube channel Da7e7 such as that they both present the topic they are discussing in a manner that it makes it very amusing, appealing, informative, and understandable to a person who may have no background about it. They also do extensive research about a topic and list their sources for the followers, then they think of outside the boxes to find COOL ways to present their topics.

However, there are differences between them. Ahmed Samir made a moto for his show which is “نور الظلمة” which means Lighting up the Darkness. He wanted not only to present any random topic of his interest topic, but also he wanted it to have a strong philosophical core related to his slogan. He also talks about society problems, especially those related to the Egyptian society. For example, this video he made right after the unfortunate incident that happened when the train hit the train station in Egypt and exploded upon the impact, causing a lot of death casualties.

He discussed in this episode the train accident and the philosophy of human life, but at the end he pointed out to the fact of how such a thing still happens and no one is taking any serious measures, while also showing his condolences to the victims and urging everyone to do the same.

I believe what is unique about Ahmed Samir’s Egychology is that he addresses his followers on the emotional level and he has some videos where he motivates and encourages his followers to change their behaviors to a better version of themselves, which most of similar channels, if not all, fail to do. Some of his followers admitted that their self-esteem and confidence levels increased after watching these episodes. He reached more than 840k subscribers and more than 25 million views according to YouTube stats on the page.

Ahmed Samir is not only a YouTuber but he is also a blogger. He has a blog called The Egychologist’s Thoughts where the difference between it and the YouTube is that he discusses a topic that is personal to him from a social, psychological, and philosophical perspectives. You feel like he is talking to you specifically while reading it.

out of all the 7.8 billion people on this planet, the forces of destiny have clutched onto you and allowed you to be here where you get a front-row seat into my soul and my thoughts.

Ahmed Samir

He shares his secrets and sometimes reflects on what is happening behind the scenes.

you’re here inspecting me and analyzing me. Not that I am unique in any way, but the fact that you have been selected to be this close to me is a very warm feeling. At least to me.

Ahmed Samir

That is his blog, which he has been using since 2009 (quite some time right?). He made sure it looks modern and appealing to any reader who might be interested in exploring it, which I believe is an important part digital literacies.

Another thing that is kind of important is that he encourages people to read books, so he is using a website called goodreads where he has a page, where he posts what books he is currently reading and what he had read before.

This is something you don’t see every day that he uses different digital platforms where anyone can learn many things from each one of them. I believe this is something phenomenon.

Unfortunately, he just ended his episode one month ago because he admitted that the support and the views on his videos are getting lower. He also expressed his frustration from being compared to his so called “successful” content creators, and he discovered that Egychology project became an overwhelming process so he decided to cut it.

However, when some of his followers knew of his decision, they decided to approach him that it is not unfair for them as they were benefiting from his show. I also believe that he was underrated but the decision at the end will remain in Ahmed Samir’s hand.

So do you think he might changes his mind?

Big Data: Inside The Algorithm

It is said that man has free will, but in the age of the internet and big data, I don’t believe the statement stands. As simple as the phrase sounds, “Big Data”, I can assure you it is a very complex concept. As a computer engineering student, I came across such a topic such a topic but not in depth; However, I am still trying to understand it. As the episode mentioned, 90% of data is now being created and is available online. Data is captured by surveillance cameras and phone locations and many other devices that can record all our movements. There is too much data that it’s become very difficult to interpret, organize and make use of. Most data in the world is controlled by what is called GAFA: Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon. All of which thrive on collecting data and interpreting it using very complex algorithms. So right now as you are reading this article, you may find an ad popping up about something that you just searched last night, or a product that you liked on Facebook this morning. Its mythical that the more data we have the more problems we can solve. Data is not sophisticated enough to speak for itself; if we can’t understand big data we cant simply interpret it and therefore not all data can solve all problems. So just the concept of “having data” does not mean that we can solve world hunger or end the financial crisis, although hypothetically possible should the data be organized in the right order. This gives rise to another problem that might not be encountered for; if data is inaccurate or collected wrongly, we would be piling on a catastrophic set of data. Its very risky when we look at the data as the whole story because data can be misinterpreted and used to discriminate people by judging who gets to have a loan and who doesn’t and other things that are similar. A fatal scenario I learned about in the course is if the data is being collected and interpreted by biased people that will definitely result in a system that takes biased decision. For example, some people got categorized in the list of potential criminals just for their color, others did not get the chance to be heard and vote during the presidential elections as they were assigned in places that were far away and hard to reach considering their living standards. Data can always be misinterpreted. It is a double edged weapon and there are no clear guidelines on how to make use of it. And thus, we are left with our conscience and our brains.

This episode has only intrigued me to learn more about Big Data. I’m surprised at how complex the process of utilizing Big Data is. I’m probably going to register a course about Data Science, which use some techniques as big data, next fall. Though I was already planning on doing so, I am now more eager to research and know more about it. 

Soliya Reflection

Soliya was a new and fruitful experience to me as I was introduced to a form of digital literacies that I have never been in before. When I first heard that we were going to be 10 people in one chat room, all that came to my mind was when me and my friends are in a group video call and how it sometime turns into chaos. However, I found soliya designed to prevent this problem by not allowing more two or more people to speak at the same time, which, in return, enable us to be able to listen to each other. The program was designed to be a suitable digital learning space that a person can have a constructive dialogue. The present of a facilitator where it ensures that the communication between the participants are maintained without really taking an active role in any topic we are discussing as to not to have any effect on the flow of the conversation between the participants. An important part I liked about Soliya is that the first dialogue we had was actually on understanding a dialogue and the right way to have it. This paved the to be able to construct and engage in beneficial dialogues through the rest of the program. Another factor that made the environment easier for communication between people with different backgrounds is that the people participating were aware of the fact that they are here to have dialogues.

I view myself as the type of communicator that only media consumer, but I think participating in soliya improves the quality of all types of communicators as it teach us how to consume the media content in a neutral way without bias and indirectly consider different prospective while analyzing the media content. Furthermore, It makes the participants engage in dialogues by adding informative content during it. The facilitator gave us tasks to perform between each session, which in some of them we had the option to design our own way of addressing this task. Beside all of that, reflecting through all of this with all the participants helps in increasing insight and gaining new ideas to perform all of these techniques in an improved way.

I believe that communicating through live video interfaces is a combination between online communication and face-to-face communication. With all of the above, one is better now at fostering communication at online and face-to-face platforms. They offer any participant to join them to be a facilitator at the program. I learned that it is important when having a dialogue with someone, I need to be an active listener as to be able to maintain it the most. Moreover, I need to acknowledge the different backgrounds, especially, in cross-cultural communication. Another important thing that I were not doing is if I found something offensive to me, I should inform the person in the other side of it as he/she might not be aware of it. Because I feel in such a context most people assume that the other person was rude, which blocks the possibility of having a positive dialogue. With considering all these points, I know some tools to be able to a foster any of the two forms of communication if I ever want to.

I would of course recommend Soliya to anyone who is looking for a right way to engage in cross-cultural communication as I was shocked of how friendly and understanding the participants were to me and each other even at our first session. Some people even join to improve their English language, which is a brilliant idea as the person is learning the language and greatly improving the other communication skills along with it. I found this new experience pleasant to me that I can, gladly, do again.

Clean Pile: Final Draft

The game evolved from its original implementation because of the useful feedback that I received through the developing process. The most important one was that the game did not have choices that branched when to different results; However, the game was more of a straight line type, which was not very interesting. After implementing the game later to be playable, I received a lot of feedback on the prototype that helped me in the process to reach the current version of my game. I added scenarios to help in educating about the recyclability of the widely used products during our daily normal routine. Moreover, I made some situations that were straightforward more subtle to give the player a more free choices.

I think the most important thing that I would have focused on if I had more time, it would be finding sustainable solutions to some of the scenarios in my game (as it will make the player have the maximum experience). Another thing that I wish I had more time to invest it in the game would be focusing on finding more real life situations that we face, which will support the purpose of the game.

Most of the scenarios I presented in the game come from personal experiences. On the other side, I learned, while developing this game, about how the garbage we throw at the streets(even the smallest things) make a huge impact on making the streets very dirty. I was exposed to the recycling process in Egypt in general and its effects on the economy. Here is the final draft of my game: Clean Pile 2.0

However, the final draft I am presenting today is the final draft for the course but not for me. This means that I will keep updating the game whenever I receive any new ideas and suggestions that will benefit the purpose of the game.

The sources for the images and the gifs in the game are in the hover text.