Final Reflection

During this course I have honestly learned a lot of things. Things that may not be concrete but I believe are important. This course is one of the few courses in the institution i’m enrolled in that manage to captivate my attention the most simply because it contains several life lessons and facts which are given to us -students- as a articles, games, videos or even discussions. What I really liked about this class was that it contained to actual lesson in the sense that the doctor talks about a certain topic which we students are supposed to take notes of. I personally think this is the best way to teach (even though it may not be applicable to all types of courses).

I have never been the scholar type of guy. I have always hated educational systems / exams / note taking but I had to do them because this was just the annoying way of how to learn. The first thing I learned was that classes do not have to be a burden for you to learn. Going into a class and discussing the topic decided by the doctor with the other students in the class made me learn that there is a way easier way of memorizing information then writing them down and reading them back and forth. I have also learned from this class that students -in such courses- always have something to add to what the doctor has to say. Most of the time the additions that students have are what we end up memorizing. This automatically lead me to learn that one often learns more while having a dialogue than by attending a lesson and taking notes. I noticed I was learning from dialogues when we were talking about social media and someone added that China did not have Facebook (which I had already heard about) but then someone else said that facebook is replaced by a platform called WECHAT which I had no idea about. This is general knowledge that could only do you good.

The second thing I have learned revolves around empathy. I had always thought that I had some kind of weak side in myself as I always felt empathy towards people that are put in bad life situations and experiences. I have learned that empathy is a feeling that more or less everyone felt when we heard about some other person that is passing my atrocious events. The difference is only that some people show empathy more than others. In our society, people tend to be raised with a set idea that women have more empathy than men.  In this class I have learnt that this is simply a myth. The myth of the strong wreck-less man the cute puppy hearted woman. I have learned that this was absolutely not what was actually happening when we had to read Lina Mounzer’s article which – I must admit – was written in the deepest details giving it a lot of weight knowing that it was talking about deaths and war. An example of very touching passage which made me feel so much empathy was : ‘I have been threatened, beaten, strip-searched, thrown in prison, tortured and made to watch as my mother knelt weeping at the dirty feet of tribal leaders to beg for any information about my kidnapped father.’ 

The third thing I have learned was about Syrians. More specifically about the journey Syrians had to pass by in order to leave their country and go somewhere where they can be safe and start a new life in which they could assure a certain standard of living for their kids and families. We all know Syrians have a hard time in their country. We all know they struggle and that a lot of them die. But I honestly had no idea it was this difficult to leave the country. I must admit I was kind of uninformed concerning this topic but I thought that Syrians could go to their port and leave the country to get somewhere else where they could start all over. I had no idea the journey was this long, was this risky, was this tiring, this expensive. I did not know all these details and I am very glad I got to learn that because this lead me to realize how much we -AUC students- are blessed to be able to live in such standards while others -Syrians- have to struggle to simply try to live in another country in which they won’t always be treated well. I got to learn about this while playing the game Syrian Journey in which the player was put in situations Syrians are put in and had to take the decisions to try to reach a country that could be considered a safe land.  I personally had no idea that the decisions were this difficult -which is what I really liked about the game-. It is eye-opening to how atrociously hard it can be for Syrians. I personally failed to get the family to Europe and drowned in the sea with my family which gave me a deeper understanding of how difficult it could be.

I honestly think this course is very well built in the sense that the material is not to heavy nor to light, the activities are interesting and make you become interested in the topic. I would definitely not remove anything from the syllabus of this course except maybe reducing the Solyia call durations. However, if I was to add something to the course it would be an activity which would consist in forming groups in the class that would later on have to do a survey based on questions related to equity in which they would have to interview people from different social levels and different jobs. To be able to know what the majority of the population of our country thinks knowing that it will most probably not be the same thoughts as ours (AUC students which are privileged in a certain way.

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First of all I must say how great I think this course is very diverted and has a very special way in teaching students. It is not a class where the lesson -what we learn- gets to us by taking notes, revising power points. It’s a course in which we learn because the content grabs us in  a way or another.

I got specially caught while we were talking about the theme “Equity”. I think it is a very important topic that educational entities tend to neglect which is one of the reasons why racism and other sorts of discriminations rates aren’t decreasing. Or at least barely.

My contribution idea to this course would most probably an activity which would consist in forming groups in the class that would later on have to do a survey based questions related to equity in which they would have to interview people from different social levels and different jobs. At the end of the day we must admit that we – AUC students-  are privileged to a certain extent, we live in a certain community which would more or less have the same opinions (or at least for the majority) concerning equity. Students would get to know how people outside this “community” think concerning this topic.

As part of this course is somehow about extraverting the students (like when we had to have the Soliya conferences) it would be interesting to know views different from what other people in this course have.

 

Soliya reflection

During our course of global world studies with doctor Maha Bali we were introduced to the Soliya platform. At first I thought this was one of the activities that I would complete just for completion. The Soliya platform in general made me change my mind. There were four conference calls of two hours (which I thought was a bit too long) in which more or less 8 students from around the world taking the same course met to discuss different topics.

The topic of the first conference we had was chosen by our two facilitators but we then got the chance to chose the topic of the next session.

The opportunity Soliya gave me to communicate with people I am not related to in any way was really nice, a pleasure i’d even say. It made me realize that communicating virtually on Soliya was actually way more difficult than talking on other online communication platforms and this -I think- is due to the fact that in other online communication platforms one choses who he talks to because he knows them. For example, in platforms such as Skype and Messenger I get to add/confirm requests of my friends so we could then be able to talk as we are already friends. Solyia is different on this point as we had no idea who we were talking to and getting to meet. It wasn’t as easy as I thought. I believe that when meeting a new person or new people it is easier and more natural for several reasons.. First of all when you say something on Solyia, you have no idea who you’re exactly talking to as there is no eye contact whatsoever. The other thing is that whenever you talk to anyone in real life you see a certain face expression to anything you say which was barely the case on Solyia.

This brought me to realize that being someone sociable because you don’t feel shy around people doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be easy to talk to anyone virtually. I have always been known as someone who is quite sociable which didn’t make it easier for me to communicate with my group. We got more laid back after a couple of conferences which would’ve happened if these meetings had happened face to face.I assume this because I learned during these 4 weeks that I’m not as good of a communicator as I thought I was. At least virtually.

To be able to foster the face to face communication I believe people should get to meet each other after having been through an experience like Solyia’s. No matter how comfortable the Solyia sessions were, we never go to actually know about the people we were communicating with because our talks were mainly about topics more or less related to the course. If people from this same group got to meet  after already talking virtually would show them how different it is to actually talk to someone in person.

Virtual communication could also be fostered in her own way. I believe the idea of Solyia is really nice, it is quite new and the concept behind it is very interesting. However, I believe it could have been encouraged more if people were put in groups based on a certain common topic of interest such as laws in Egypt, Football whatever wide topics people could choose from. The fact that every one in a certain group has the same interest , it automatically breaks the ice and people start discussing and arguing happily with interest in the topic.

To conclude my reflection about Solyia , I would confidently say that also the platform could get more perfectionized, it is no doubt an experience that one should try. It is new, innovative and quite interesting.

Do not track assignment

Do not track is a website which I find is quite innovative and original in a way. When I opened the website I felt the same vibe as Netflix. This is in itself very captivating for several reasons.

First of all, institutions have always been talking to us about online privacy but it is indispensable to say that these lessons have always been very boring. We all know how to adjust privacy on facebook, how to recognize a spam, etc..

The second thing is that people tend to neglect or procrastinate their studies to surf on Netflix which, -as i said- is quite similar to the do not track website on which there are also easily accessible episodes of a series. Hence I find this website very attractive and will happily watch a couple of episodes to complete this assignment.

The first video I watched is called the spy in my pocket. I know we shouldn’t read a book from its cover page but the title of it really attracted me as I am convinced it is absolutely no coincidence that after looking for a plane ticket for example, you get travel adds on facebook. How does this work ? I don’t know.. Is there someone sitting on the other side of the world to make sure I get these adds? maybe.. I will watch the video, hoping it may clarify some information to me.

Despite the fact that this video is quite short, it provided me with several information I had absolutely no idea about. We tend to think that we may be tracked only when using internet. This turned out to be a bluff. Apparently, when we’re simply using the flashlight of our phones, it activates your devices UD ID (Unique Device ID) which is unique all around the world. This UD ID is then sent to advertisers which use it to know where you’re at when it comes to using and buying products. A simple flash light can make them think of what’s on your mind! Once they have your UD ID, they will know which cafes , places, restaurants you go to which would help the internet send you adds and suggestions that you could relate to. I also got to know that there are certain apps that show who is using your information without your knowledge. I find it unfortunate that the video did not give us the name of the application though.. Did you know that the way your information is collected differs from wether you’re using IOS, Windows or android? I didn’t either! To track devices, Google said they used IP addresses, GPS location and so forth (wife access points etc…)

Unlike on Netflix, I won’t be watching the episodes in order because there are different topics that specifically interest me and I would like to know more about. Hence I chose a topic that I think is becoming more and more important in our daily lives even concerning our jobs. ‘Like mining‘ is the third episode of this season on internet tracking of ‘Do not track’ .

This episode is about how we don’t think twice before liking a post , a picture or even an article . However, this simple like does a lot. It is way more than simply showing that you like something or that you can relate to it..  A bit into this video, something surprised me. This is all about privacy, about protecting your information. Yet, they ask you to sign in with your facebook account to continue so you could get to analyze your likes. Isn’t that what other platforms do to collect your information? giving you a reason to put your username and password so they can later on use your information for other things? Despite this, I still decided to sign  in. It said it was analyzing my information which made me a bit skeptical especially that it did not work and redirected me to the video.

Interesting fact given in the video : scholars from Cambridge University state that our likes on Facebook can be used to define your character, political position, sexual orientation and even your IQ. All of this through your likes? How? This question spontaneously came up to me after hearing this. Like can go all the way to giving facebook information about psychological disorders which is -I would say-  scary to a certain extent.

How scary is it to get a statement such as : “Using the personality analysis created from your Facebook data and scientific research from a study published in the Journal of Risk Research our advanced algorithm has determined that you may be a mediocre candidate for a loan” . I find it extremely shocking and even disturbing that Facebook likes and shares have gained importance to the extent that wether getting a loan request accepted or not may depend on it. It is indispensable to say that this is said my Iluminus which itself is created by ” Do Not Track” but there are in fact true websites such as a banking platform called Lenddo which asks you to sign in with facebook and then automatically give you a rating that fluctuates between 0 and 1’000. This, I think is atrocious.  Yet, it clearly backs up the fact that likes are a major way of spying on people’s lives and even rating them. These likes are used in more fields than we  -or at least I- thought before doing this activity and watching these videos. It is incredible that that likes and friends of friends could lead the internet to know the propensity of you smoking.

I think it is very interesting to get a sentence such as : “Your high scores in Extraversion (0.975) and Neuroticism (0.855) indicate extreme potential for risk-taking behavior in your health decisions” just from signing in to facebook.

These two episodes are very interesting and I would advise you to watch them!

Fake news

Fake news have been surrounding us at all times without us even noticing.

I have realized that social media platforms such as facebook are the main agglomeration of fake news as anyone who has followers could manage to post whatever picture adding a caption to it. The thing is this picture could give an extremely wrong image of what is truly happening at a certain time. In fact, it could even be the opposite of what is truly happening. In egypt for example, there were times when the soldiers of the army were pictured as being harsh, heartless and reckless while they were actually trying to fight for the population’s safety and well being.

Something I had never understood about fake news was how do the page owners manage to gain this much likes and follows while they’re lying. I got a slightly better idea of how this works when I played the fake news game (fake it till you make it) we were assigned to play in class. I understood that they either played on emotions, on something very close to reality or on a name that people could confound with the name of someone famous that has credibility.

 

Final draft of “Being under the influence” game

This game is about a person in high school that is invited to the hit party of the semester. The player walks in the high schooler’s shoes and choses wether to get under the influence or not knowing that his parent’s are out of the country and he is the designated driver of the night.

The game’s first idea was written here and I explained some of the scenarios on my second blogpost about the game. On the second draft of the game I got several comments that helped me ameliorate the game as much as I could. What I mainly changed since the last draft was the colors of the text as my Professor had told me it was more or less monotonous. To make it more entertaining and less like a powerpoint presentation, I added background pictures that relate to the topic of the slide. Another thing I changed was the fact that there was a specific situation in which the player had no option and had to “smoke illegal substances”. I now gave the player an option to refuse which would lead him to get rejected and laughed at leading to the end of the game as he/she would decide to go home. I believe this would make the player want to play again trying the other option.

If I had more time I would’ve tried to make it the story of a whole weekend or a week instead of a simple day because one can more easily resist temptation on a night out than on a long term basis.

To play the game click here !

Blog about equity

The last post I’ve posted was a mistake. It should’ve been about equity but I misread the word as ’empathy’. Hence, I’ll be correcting my error by writing today a post about equity.

In my opinion, equity has been a main driving key of this course which makes it very interesting and captivating. All of us know that equity should be present in our daily lives, in all activities. But do we actually do that ? Do we always do that though? Are people all actually equal in our minds? I don’t think so. Or at least I can say that this wasn’t the case for me before joining this class.

During this class, we’ve discussed stereotypes which I believe are the main factor that opposes to equity. We tend to think that we’re better than others that we stereotype which deletes the idea of equity. Dr Bali has been giving all of us (students of the class) the exact same opportunities to talk, feedback, help, and motivation which honestly makes me look up to her when it comes to equity. This is something I learned from her as I honestly sometimes tend to treat people based on what their interests are, based on how they look. I’ve learned to stop doing that and only judge people after giving them the chance to prove who they are and what they’re good at.

For some reason, the activity that marked me the most concerning equity is the Soliya online conversation because we were all strangers to one another and yet we all gave the chance to the others to speak their words. If I was to simply look at how my colleagues in the activity I would’ve had the exact opposite image of what they actually are. Wether the speaker was from Iran, Syria, US, Canada or even Egypt we were all students, all interested in learning from this activity, all contributing with our thoughts.. We are all equal. Equity was in the center of the conversation.