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Exploring Digital Literacies

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Your Digital Confidence Profile

I believe that the results of my digital profile actually represent how I see myself. I believe that I am pretty comfortable with my skills concerning research, creation, learning and wellbeing  and completely confident with my skills concerning collaboration and communication, which I am most proud of. The areas I’m interested in developing throughout this course are definitely those concerning creation and innovation as well as teaching and learning as I would like to pass on my knowledge in creative ways.

Introduction to Digital Literacies

Defining digital literacy

Wikipedia’s definition of digital literacy is the following: ” an individual’s ability to produce clear information through writing and other forms of communication on various digital platforms.” I believe that Wikipedia’s definition of Digital literacy is a good description of the concept as it shows the different needed for digital literacy; dimensions such as grammar skills, computer skills, writing skills, and typing skills on platforms, such as social media sites and blog sites, etc.

When I scan the #digilit hashtag on Twitter, I found a valuable link defining digital literacy. posted by Lee Araoz, helped define the importance of digital citizenship – an important element of digital literacy. It shows how part of digital literacy is using the internet effectively to engage in society/ politics.

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After conducting a Google search for “digital skills”, I found 2 definitions that I believe are very important. The first one concerns Social Media skills: “The ability to understand and utilize social media effectively is a core skill every professional should have. […]Social media has permeated the fabric of our society, and become the primary source of communication and information flow between content creators and consumers.”  I find this skill to be very important as I use social media every single day of my life to communicate with people from all over the world and I have always seen its effect on its users and its power. Furthermore, another definition of digital skills that I found to be very interesting is the following: “digital skills are any skills related to being digitally literate. Anything from the ability to find out your high-score on Minesweeper to coding a website counts as a digital skill.” I find this to be very interesting as a long list of digital skills exists and having as many of them is very important as they are now needed in the modern workplace.

Furthermore, I conduct a Google search for Digital Fluency. A definition that i found to be very interesting is the following: “In a digital context for learning, fluency involves using technologies “readily and strategically to learn, to work, and to play, and the infusion of technology in teaching and learning to improve outcomes for all students”1 I find this definition to be very interesting as it shows how digital fluency necessitates  flexibility, accuracy, efficiency, and appropriateness.

I believe that the differences between digital literacies, digital fluency and digital skills  lies in the fact that digital skills focus on what and how, while digital literacy focuses on why, when, who, and for whom. Fluency on the other hand is an advanced level of literacy and skills.

What is digital literacy? published by POMO is a reliable source as POMO is an award winning multi-disciplinary design practice, it produces strategy-driven design solutions across digital, print and urban environments. I would rate the academic quality of the definitions I found as high, as the sites I used were mostly educational and done by professionals.

The major difference between digital skills and literacies as I mentioned above how digital skills concern the how and literacies concern the what and the why. For example, downloading a picture from the internet is a skill but knowing which picture to use concerns literacies. I didn’t realise that literacy occurs on a spectrum,  that takes time, practice, and continuing feedback much like the acquisition of other skill sets. For me, digital literacy is set of skills needed for complete contribution in a knowledge society. It involves knowledge, manners and skills concerning the efficient usage of digital devices such as smartphones and computers for reasons of communication, collaboration, expression and activism.

Digital skills versus literacies

Thanks Maha, I didn’t realise that digital skills and literacies are interwoven, that both are needed for fluency; this is as well my take home message from Maha’s video.

An Introduction to Digital Images

In this lesson, I learned how images and photos can be represented digitally, and discover a range of techniques to enhance pictures. I learned about the terms  ‘pixels’ and ‘image histograms’, brightness and contrast as well as the meaning of HDR (something I see on my phone all the time and never understood).

Managing your online identity & reputation

I learned about the importance of care, ethical and pro-social behaviour; as well as he importance of recognizing inappropriate behaviour online and knowing what steps to take, such as stalking.

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The meaning of intesectionality

According to the Oxford Dictionary, intersectionality is “the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.” After reading the article by Kim Crenshaw, I understand that intersectionality to be how discrimination is based on an identity composed of a mix of different elements such as race, class and gender. This reminds of a math diagram, called the Venn diagram, that shows how one thing can be composed of different elements. images

Looking at this diagram, I believe that this diagram perfectly represents intersectionality as in represents the interconnection between different elements to create one entity. For example, in Egypt, low class jewish woman can be marginalized and discriminated on both their gender, religion and class.

 

Reflection: Flipping the Script

In this episode of Invisibilia, the hosts look at situations where someone flips the script – does the opposite of what their natural instinct is – and in this way, transforms a situation. I’m writing this blog to share a personal story illustrating the perfect usage of non-complementary behavior. A while ago, I was fighting with a very close friend; it was pretty serious, we were even considering never talking to each again and breaking all even though we’ve know each other for years. As always, I was shouting at him on the phone, until to my surprise, he didn’t shout back, all he said was: “I know this is serious, but can we pause for a second?!… I swear I love you”. He totally flipped the script and my frown turned into the biggest smile in the world and all could say is:” I swear you’re dumb..” This moment is so memorable to me as it reminded me of How I Met Your Mother and how Lily and Marshall had a pause option during their fights; which is a perfect example of non-complementary behavior.

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My Soliya Experience – Reflection

“Culture makes people understand each other better. And if they understand each other better in their soul, it is easier to overcome the economic and political barriers. But first they have to understand that their neighbor is, in the end, just like them, with the same problems, the same questions”,said Paulo Coelho; I believe that Soliya helped me understand the true meaning behind his words.

Soliya is an international nonprofit organization preparing the next generation with the skills, attitudes, and commitment to engage with difference constructively. This spring, I participated in the Soliya Spring 2018 Connect Program; I was assigned to Group 118 that meets on Tuesdays 3:45 PM to 5:45 PM from April 2nd to April 27th.The Soliya program is basically a group facetime or skype platform that allows several people to log in and have a conference call, allowing each one of us to see and hear the others simultaneously. I believe that this element was crucial to the success of the program as it allowed us to see each other’s appearances, facial expressions and surroundings and hear each other’s voices. The platform also has “breakout rooms”, a feature that allows more private meetings between the members on the call, allowing us to have one-on-one conversations which made the discussion more personal. I believe that the group meetings were the most critical element of this cross-cultural exchange experience, and that each and every person in the group is important to the dialogue process.

My favorite about the whole experience is the diverse group of people I got to meet; I got to know people from the USA, Jordan, Tunisia, Italy and many more. I enjoyed talking to all of them in general but most importantly I enjoyed talking to Salah Casey, a feminist Jordanian studying in Turkey, as I found him to be hilarious, as well as Marwa Dridi as I believe she was very opinionated and had a lot to say. Furthermore, I believe that my moderator Kholoud was very supportive and nice; she always tried to encourage us to join the discussion and talk; she also tried to move the conversation forward and tried to write in the texting area what was being said, which was a huge help. We had to do several activities with my favorite being discussing topics that we are very passionate about and looking on our social media feeds or favorite news site for a post that relates to our passion that causes an emotional reaction in us. I decided to talk about “The Blue Whale Game” that caused the suicide of several teenagers in Egypt as there was a lot of controversy about it; I also loved listening to what the others found such as posts about racism, football and the treatment of inmates in prison. I also loved the subjects that we discussed in general: Feminism, Stereotypes, Are we really free? … With my favorite being feminism (I also believe it to be the favorite of the group in general) is as I believe that I have a strong opinion about this ideology and so did everyone else in the group.

My main issue with the experience as a whole is technological as I had recurring technological issues; I spent most of my sessions with Technical Support and I wasn’t the only one with sound problems, visual issues or slow connection. These technical issues got me very frustrated and stressed and affected my participation in the meetings as I had to drop and reconnect several times during the same sessions, so I missed chunks of the conversation; I had to use the texting feature a lot and sometimes felt left out as I did not know where the discussion was going because my less-than-ideal technology. However, these issues helped me learn about the impact of technology on communication and how equal technological access can help create a successful link between people from all around the world.

            When I think about online communication, I think about social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or online communication tools such as emails, fax or even Skype or Facetime. Soliya is a lot like Facetime and Skype, they are very similar applications that allow visual and auditory communication between different individuals. I couldn’t actually see a difference between skype and Soliya. As a sharer of content, I learned that I’m very opinionated, I’m not the best listener in the world and that’s a skill I have to work on. I also found out that I find it easy to talk to people I don’t know. Furthermore, as a media consumer, I discovered that I am very attracted to posts/news that cause a lot of controversy. To foster constructive communication both online and in face-to-face interactions, I believe that I should be a good listener, have good nonverbal communication such as body language and eye contact or hand gestures, be clear and concise, friendly, empathetic, open-minded as well as respectful.

            In conclusion, I found this experience to be very valuable as well as enlightening, especially for young adults. Soliya exposed me to other cultures, both western and eastern, and allowed me to hear different opinions about topics I find to be very interesting. However, sometimestechnology is a downfall as much as blessing; even though it connected us, I believe that the technological element can be improved as the issues it caused made the experience less enjoyable and extremely stressful.

A Day In A life Of A Bullied Freshmen

Project done in collaboration with Mirna Ashraf

We all agree that bullying is a serious and common obstacle among societies that can threaten students’ emotional and physical safety at school and definitely impact their ability to learn in a negative way. Both studies and statistics show that between 1 in 4 and 1 in 3 U.S. students say they have been bullied at school!

To clarify, throughout our game, the player experiences the real struggles of a bullied victim by living an entire day full of aggressive and unwanted behaviors. The player first selects their gender and then starts the real dilemma…

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The game narrates a tough journey of a young student who is being bullied by other school aged teenagers. The player is a victim of complex situations including threats, rumors, physical and verbal attacks, group exclusion, etc… However, the player has to choose an immediate reaction to these acts by selecting one of the options provided in the game: either by taking action, reporting the incident, or simply by running away and ignoring the problem. The behavior or the act of bully is being repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time, throughout the day. Bullying occurs during or after school hours.

Please note that it can occur anywhere and anytime in the school building, the classroom, the bus or even on the school field. The aim of this game is not only to promote empathy with bullied kids, but also to prove that bullying is an unpleasant but inevitable part of school for many students, that impacts the student’s emotional well-being and academic achievement, both in the short and the long-term…

The following is the link to our GAME.

 

Reflection: Digital Narrative Games

SPENT: This game is basically a life simulation of a low income citizen dealing with poverty. As required, I played the game twice, choosing the first time to work in a warehouse as a warehouse-associate and choosing the second time to work as a temporary worker in an office ( I chose both of them as they had the highest per hour wage of $9/hour). Both turns, I learned that being a low income citizen is HARD on so many levels. Money affects not materialistic things or physical necessities such food or housing but affects things such as relationships with family members and friends; at a certain point, I had to use the feature that allows me to to break my kid’s piggybank, ask my friends for a ride and donate blood for money. What I loved about this game is that it’s 100% realistic, it actually shows what people with such an income go through on a daily basis (the feature that shows the statistical facts blew my mind and broke my heart every-time). The game actually made me feel as if the money and the circumstances were real; it made actually things very hard before every decision I took, asking myself what might happen tomorrow of I don’t take the right decision. Playing this game made me feel very privileged and helped learn about the struggles faced by the poor on a daily basis. One suggestion that I have to improve the game is to make a bit more visual, with characters and videos/picture; the game itself is very well made yet I believe could be a bit more appealing.

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Syrian Journey: Choose your own escape route: 

This game is basically a simulation of the life and escape of Syrian refugees. The Syrian conflict has left thousands dead and drove millions to flee their homes; the game puts you in the shoes of a refugee fleeing Syria for Europe and gives you the ability to take the escape decisions for yourself and your family. What I loved about this game is the fact that it is based on on extensive research and real stories of Syrians who have made the journey; it allowed me to have a glimpse of journey to understand the real dilemmas the refugees face. Playing the game, I always felt scared as there was always a possibility of either death or deportation; once again it made feel very privileged.  One suggestion that I have to improve the game is to make it look a bit more professional; Spent had the professional-look feature to it and this game had the visuals needed – a combination of these two features would be perfect.

The Voter Suppression Trail:

The Voter suppression game is a very well made game that effectively and simply shines a light on the idea of racism in polling places. Describing it as heroic journeys, the game shows it’s harder for people of color to cast their votes and how manipulation is used to keep these voters away from the polls. What I loved about this game is how well made it is; I absolutely loved the fact the it had a 90’s Atari vibe to it. One suggestion that I have to improve the game is to make it longer I guess.. It was very short as all the player had to do is just his/her ethnicity (either a white programmer from California, a Latina nurse from Texas, or a black salesman from Wisconsin) and basically nothing else.

Sleep-Deprived Mom Game:
Created by my own professor Dr. Maha Bali (@bali_maha on Twitter), this game promote empathy with sleep-deprived moms as for many of them sleep deprivation is a lifestyle and not a choice. The game is very simple the player has to pretend to be a mom who has one barely potty-trained child and no nanny and to make decisions based on the need to sleep. I loved this game as I, in a way, am a parent to 2 younger siblings (a teenager and an 8 year old boy) with my single mother. One suggestion that I have to improve the game is to make it look a bit more professional and to make it a bit more visual.
Created as part of a PhD study, this interactive fiction, this TERRIFIED me. At first I was very confused as I didn’t know who I am (in the game) or where I was or basically anything about what the game is about; but the more I answered question, I found out that it’s about a serial killer Doctor and I got scared that something scary might pop-up so I just closed the tab.  What I loved about this game is how the questions give the player many options and that it has a pretty good storyline.  One suggestion that I have to improve the game is to make it  a bit more visual.
Reflection on all the games:
I loved all five games (Escape one not so much) as they were very engaging – some more than others though. I believe that a combination of all the elements that make these games good would make one great game; elements such as an engaging storyline, good visuals, a professional look, etc..

The CLT Anniversary Event

 

AUC’s Center for Learning and Teaching (CLT) has the mission of helping create a stimulating learning environment by promoting excellence in teaching, by facilitating the effective application of technology to the teaching and learning process, by providing support and resources and by engaging in outreach activities. Last Thursday,  i was invited to participate in a workshop that allowed both professors and student to share their opinions and assessment concerning the learning experience in the university. On my table, I was joined by 3 faculty members and 3 students of different majors; we then proceeded to fill cards (that were later on collected at the end of the session) answering questions about our own personal experience. The questions tackled matters such as demotivation, things that we think should be changed, what we professors could change about their instructing techniques, etc. Even though I was late (as I was lost – I thought the workshop was in the center itself but it turned out to be in a hall), I absolutely loved this whole experience. I find myself to be a very opinionated person, so I found this to be the perfect opportunity to share all of opinions, specially when I was the student left. I started talking about the fact that I’m a double-major student (Finance & Accounting) with a minor in economics, overloading every semester to graduate as soon as possible, while living in 6 of October (so imagine how long  it takes me to get to Uni and get home ALMOST EVERYDAY); we can therefore say that my experience isn’t the best one… Anyway, I told the professors about the things they can do to make life easier for students with circumstances like mine. The main point I talked about is the attendance policy; I shared my own opinions as well as opinions of fellow students. Everyday, I see students just entering classes to fill the attendance sheet, some even let their friends fill it for them (I won’t denny I do this as well). I believe that the attendance policy lost it’s meaning, it just give something else to worry about; I find this extremely unfair for someone to risk getting an F for missing a few classes eve they have amazing grades. One of the things professors don’t take in consideration is the fact that we take other courses than their own, we even have to sometimes miss classes to study for other classes. Abolishing the attendance policy would make my life way easier, I’m more than sure that it would a positive effect on my academic performance. To end this blog entry on a good note, I decided to attach a few meme that describe my mixed feelings – enjoy..

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Reflection: Amanda Martinez

 

Dr. Amanda Martinez, a communication professor-scholar at Davidson College talking about the spectrum of what is “fake news” and the digital media literacies connecting to making sense of the information ecosystem. She explains how fake news isn’t simply completely fabricated stories that are probably meant to manipulate people and capitalize on some sort of predisposed view that people want to believe; she explains how fakes news is also a spectrum: parodies, satires, the middle ground where we see that of course there are facts right but maybe they’re cherry picked, extreme forms like fake news stories that are completely fabricated, maybe rooted in a kernel of truth but totally twisted, and things like propaganda. She also explains how individuals also come to their own critical media literacy with knowledge structures, right personal life experience, you can see how we gain that over time and it your our views get refined and they shift and change with new information that we learn.

Dr. Martinez video made me think about how I face fake news on almost a daily bases; however, I grew a sense of judgement that allows me to differentiate between fake and real news. I grew critical thinking skills, that I acquired through my experiences as an IB student and as a university student, allowing me think about the credibility of every piece of information I read or hear.

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