Since the first draft, Farida Swellem and I added new scenarios that depict others aspects of the child’s life as well as the parents. In addition, we added pictures to help people visualize what we are talking about in the game. As previously mentioned, the scenarios depicted in this game are from personal experiences. Firstly, I grew up as a volunteer in Special Olympics so I was around many parents and children and have been involved in many of the scenarios mentioned in the game. The game is a compilation of experiences that have occurred to me while volunteering or occurred to Farida with a family member. These scenarios are based on conversations with mothers during the tough and hectic times of the games, from my experience. Many of the feedback that we received said that we did not depict the full life of the child. We added 2 scenarios in which the question is in the perception of the parent since children are not the only ones affected. Other scenarios depicted the child being bullied, having a problem with their social life and finding hobbies other than sports. In addition, another feedback that we received was that people did not know what the different educational institutions were so we provided an explanation for each. Finally, a couple of people said that the game was too dull because there were not any colors which is why we added pictures. If we had more time, I would try to sit down with a parent of someone who has down syndrome to really depict the journey in depth. Moreover, I would add more scenarios because I felt limited to what people would want to see and what we must say. Creating this game, I learned that some people really have it difficult in life and that we must think of others before acting. Nevertheless, it made me realize how blessed I am for being able to carry on with my life without having such a worry. I do not think I learned as much as I would hope people who know nothing about Special Olympics would.
I read two articles for this assignment, one titled Information Equity and the other titled Digital Redlining, Access and Privacy.
To be honest, I never really heard the term “information equity” before reading this article so going, I did not know what to expect. From just the wording, I was able to get a brief understanding but what to know more about what it really entails. The Information Equity article made sure you became aware of your rights as a citizen which many people lack. For example, I have no idea what my rights as an Egyptian is and that is because it is so suppressed in our education systems and our culture that you grow up having absolutely no knowledge of such a matter. We all know information is important because it is embedded in everything we do. Yet, we never stop and think is this information or not. I truly think it is because we have been so accustomed to it being embedded in our daily life especially with the increase in technology that you basically disregard it. It makes you wonder, what else am I ignoring because I’m just taking it for granted? which brings us to another important concept. Do all people have the same access to information, especially in Egypt? That is a definite no. We’re a developing country but even if we’re developed, I do not think a single country can say that their society has equitable information access and use. (Lievrouw and Farb, 2003, pp. 504–505) What I truly found eye-opening was the part where they stated: “If people in a society do not have access to information they need to advocate for their interests, that society is not really a democracy” and I could have never probably linked them together. With that quote, Egypt is definitely not a democracy. You always need to advocate your interest in order to get access to information in which most cases, you will never get it. The entities involved in whether or not you receive such access to information are government agencies and officials but also private corporations. They put too much focus on keeping information away from people and not what they can give to people. Moreover, two new topics that I was introduced to were: personal agency and social capital. Personal agency is “if you will be able to live the life you envision for yourself” and I think because all the information that I need to assess how my life looks like in the next, say, 10 years is already reliable and accessible to me, I can paint a faint image. For starters, I do know that I want to start a career immediately, have a family, own my own house and travel around the world. I know what each matter entails but will I be able to achieve the resources needed to carry out such plans is one that even information cannot provide me with. The second concept is social capital which is basically “the benefit people derive from having relationships with others” also known as a “wasta” in Egypt. Your connections make or break you in our Egyptian society and having people back you up in times of need is essential to your succession.
Digital Redlining, Access and Privacy, an article by Chris Gilliard focuses on how the information available to us may be limited. The previous article gave a brief insight on fair access and use but this one focuses on how certain topics on the web are not found. The author gave an example of Nina who could not find any information on revenge porn today, not because it’s not there but because it has been filtered so she cannot see it. Most of the resources in Egypt are filtered with a number of websites being banned completely but we would never have buzzers that would alert someone that you were using an illegal website like abroad. For example, my cousin lives in Canterbury, Kent and she needed to watch a film for university, she couldn’t search for it online because her access to the internet has been filtered to remove copyrighted content since it is illegal. However, I could find that exact same movie in Egypt and it would appear as my first choice in Google. When I sent her the link, it would work so it is not that the entire site is banned, it is that they limit your information to access such a website in the first place. Gilliard explained how redlining came to be with the National Housing Act in 1934. I immediately thought, how can a concept that is already rooted in racism, still operate blatantly in our world. Indeed, if you have to advocate for your information, it is not a democracy. This divide allows the racism many face today. If I can judge which skin color gets which kind of information or privileges or based on location, I can do much more when technology advances. Digital redlining helps in reinforcing existing beliefs about classes, races and religions that it greatly divides the world into categories and decides who gets what.
For my digital narrative game, I partnered up with Farida Swellem. We chose a topic that is so dear to my heart which is: Special Olympics. So for anyone who doesn’t know what Special Olympics is, let me tell you. It is an Olympics for people with intellectual disabilities such as Down Syndrome, Autism, Aspergers, Cerebral Palsy etc. It is NOT Paralympics since they are so often confused for each other. When I was 2 years old, around 2000, my father took a new opportunity and changed careers. He was appointed as the Regional President of Special Olympics in the Middle East and North Africa. Growing up, my sisters and I would volunteer at every World Games even the Summer and Winter Games. It is our way of helping the community but it also created bond with our father. It is all he knows and all he dreams of now. The game we created is based on scenarios that I have either witnessed or heard of from family members or the family members of the athletes. The reason I chose this topic is that there is such a stigma behind being intellectually disabled, especially in Egypt, in that you are thought of as less capable of doing something. But what one does not know is that they are not less capable, they just do it differently but this is paves the road for judgement and labels to take place. It should not. The goal for this game is to raise awareness and promote inclusion. Some people do not even know what being intellectually disabled entails yet they are so quick to label them based on what society projects it to be. We just want to shed light on how brilliant, energetic and very capable those athletes are and they deserve the recognition. My father always used to tell me, “whenever someone says that the intellectually disabled cannot do something, always tell them, they are not disabled, they are differently abled” and this is the message I want to send with this game.
The CLT Symposium was a beneficial experience because I was exposed to different areas of teaching or learning, especially with the Educational Psychology course I am currently taking.
I attended the keynote “Teaching in an Age of Complexity: Considering Open, Participatory and Equitable Pedagogies” by Catherine Cronin. Catherine Cronin, of the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education began her keynote with a very eye-opening quote by Seamus Heaney. Heaney (1996) states, “You are neither here nor there, a hurry through which known and strange things pass” which deeply resonated with me. I genuinely love quotes because I believe they are little pieces of texts that can have more meaning than an entire book. The words of “strange things pass” probably resonates with any university students because you are put to the test on a daily basis with strange situations or obstacles being thrown at you. Nevertheless, her keynote identified numerous ideas that we encounter on a daily basis, one of them being the internet. I learned that in order for the internet to be an open space where people of different cultures can communicate freely, there must be a balance between openness and privacy (my Mozilla Health presentation topic). These two topics definitely go hand in hand. I understood her deep belief in the benefit of using the internet as an open space between “networked educators” and “networked students” because you are able to achieve so much more when you are in an open and free space. Yet, it also allows you to interact with people that you could possibly have never encountered in your physical spaces. I felt that this area of communication, which is currently on the rise, will be the future of education. My twin sister is currently taking a Psychology course in which they interact with other students from Colombia via Skype. They are able to listen to their struggles as well as share information about culture, acceptance and stereotypes, which in my opinion, will help break the mentality of “us vs. them” when you are exposed to people who are different than you. This talk made me really look forward to Soliya because I think that is exactly what Cronin is preaching. However, one thing I wish Cronin did differently was that she introduced several topics at the end but never really followed up on each one. I was waiting for a more in-depth talk but it never happened.
Another keynote that I watched online was “Reimagining Education in the Digital Age” by Dr. Alec Couros. Dr. Alec Couros examined how teachers enable their students “to contribute and not just consume from the web”. It was a very intriguing subject to think about because the internet is all about consumption whether it in the form of information or entertainment but no one ever thinks about how they can contribute to the web. Listening to the talk, I loved Dr. Couros’ charisma. He was very engaging especially since he was talking about platform that us, as students, use on a daily basis such as YouTube. He gave an example of how MIT have made their content public or how everything today can be found on the internet. It got me thinking: why do we need university if I can teach myself everything from the internet?, which was ironically his next discussion. Dr. Couros said, “If you can Google it, why teach it? and I think you must teach it because with passing on knowledge comes experience and our knowledge is shaped by our experiences. Hence, learning a new concept is not just that, it is understanding the struggles that the teacher went through in order to grasp this concept so that I do not have to go through the same struggles. It made me aware that the internet can be something so beneficial but also disastrous for the field of education. I felt like, in the near future, we will not need teachers but human interaction creates a bond that allows you to understand better than any other form of teaching. I once had a professor asked us why we think human interaction is the best form of education and why using the internet to learn or watch lectures is not considered the best. It made me realize that the internet takes away our facial expressions which in essence, can say a lot about a person. Thus, human contact can enrich your knowledge without even realizing it. However, one thing that I found unclear was how I can still contribute to content on the web. I never really found a clear answer.
You may watch the keynotes on:
Dr. Alex Couros: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7WIRmU9kts
Heaney, Seamus (1996). ‘Postscript’ in The Spirit Level. London: Faber.
I played a total of 6 games: 2 in class which were Spent and Syrian Refugee and 4 at home which were Female Fighter, Domestic Violence in Egypt, Defying Gender Roles and Being Under the Influence. All of the games were really eye-opening and I liked how they all tackled issues in our society that may be considered taboo or controversial.
Spent was a really heartbreaking game because I was able to understand how fortunate I am which may be something that I took for granted over the years. Throughout the game I felt very stressed like when one weight was removed off my shoulders, 10 replaced it. It was never ending and I began to think of my father and how he must feel knowing the responsibilities and priorities that he carries daily. During the game, I felt I needed to choose wisely so that I would have enough money to pay the bills or any unexpected expenses. However, focusing on the responsibilities took away from my humanity. I began to make myself walk to work, eat canned soup and would not help a friend out because I knew I would need this money. It opened my eyes to the fact that there must be a balance between saving money and taking care of yourself and others around you. One does not substitute the other. One suggestion to improve in the game would be to include factual information after every decision to allow players to understand the magnification of such issues.
Syrian Refugee was a game that evoked much more than empathy but also fear and made me realize how dangerous the world we live in is. Again, every game made me aware of how fortunate I am but this time it was not being thankful for my current finances. It was being thankful for my family and being together. Playing the game, I really felt alone. There was that sense of isolation that came with the vibes of the game from the content to the design. The decisions I had to take were really hard such as going back to save someone from drowning or letting go of my family. I chose empathy over selfishness but that made me end up in a refugee camp in Turkey alone while my family arrived safely. Playing this game, I learned the extent that a person can go to protect their family or themselves. It showed me how our nature as humans is to always find safety and when something threatens that we must fight our way through it. One suggestion to improve in the game is that it is too quick to end your life which might be the truth but the game is too short that it loses its effect on a person.
When I first read the title of the game, I immediately thought it would be like a women empowerment kind of game especially with the simplicity and delicacy of the design of the slides. The game was eye-opening and I could relate personally because they really depicted the daily struggles of being a female in Egypt. However, one aspect of the game that really affected me was that it was too negative. I understand that this subject is very controversial and many may have different perspectives and opinions but it seemed that they believed that the only valid option was to file a police report. Then, they would tell you, they won’t do anything about it. They’re right but when having such a power and creating a game that could go viral and reach people, the least you can do is give them hope. I felt hopeless while playing, like a toy being passed around from one person to the other or from one subject to the other and it made me think less of myself because if you cannot even help yourself, who will you help?
I think this specific game struck me the most because I have been surrounded with similar situations in my life that have really changed who I wanted to surround myself with and where I would like to be seen and go in public. I think peer pressure was one thing that was really highlighted in this game and I have encountered many situations in my life where it showed me the drastic effects that peer pressure can do. To me, the options were kind of limited in that there were things that I thought of that were not in the options to choose from. It was either this or that which is not normally the case. I understand it is for the sake of the game but it forced me to decide to go home “humiliated” instead of conforming to party norms. I do not see any humiliation in the idea of choosing my own well-ness over something against my beliefs.
I really like this game because it was so light compared to the darkness that came with the other games. Yes, it does tackle important issues in regards to gender but it was able to capture it in a light and fun way. To be honest, playing this game, I felt like I could not relate. I have 3 sisters so growing up, my mom and dad made sure we understood how our society tries to belittle women and take their voices away from them and they made sure our voices were never taken. The game highlighted marriage, education, toys and social constructs. In terms of education, my father has always pushed us to succeed and to want more for ourselves which would eventually push away marriage for a few years. I really did not like the ending of the game that because I chose to focus on my career instead of marriage, “society had its effect on me” and that either I could get married now but children will be hard or I can be the “independent woman” who defies these social ideologies. It was too stereotypical that it kind of took away from the importance of the game.
Domestic Violence in Egypt was a really factual game that provided the players with an in-depth understanding of such an important topic. Playing this game, I felt hopeful, it gave you a way out of a toxic relationship. It never shut the door in your face like Female Fighter. I learned how widespread this epidemic is and that it can hit close to home in any second because no one is an exemption especially when our society justifies such behavior. To be honest, I would not change anything about this game.
Digital literacy: a term I have probably heard several times over my years in the education system but have never really delved deep into what it truly means. The first time I come across this term this year is when I registered this course. Entering this course I thought, digital literacy? I would like to know more about that, but what does this term really mean or at least what does it mean to me? Reflecting on this term, I believe it means being aware of your digital self and the dangers of exposing yourself online whether to family/friends or to the public. Whenever I post anything on social media I know that it can be used against me somehow somewhere whether in job interviews or between acquaintances or even by strangers. I am also particularly conscious when it comes to photos. When you post something on any social media platform, you know it will be there forever, no matter how matter many times you tried to delete it from the internet. My precautions are not as bad when it comes to sharing a piece of text as when it is when I am sharing photos because photos are so personal. Text may also be personal but they are just words but with photos its you, out there in the world waiting to be judged. But let’s take a step back. Before entering this course, I had a totally different understanding of the term. I just thought it is being able to navigate through technology whether being able to use your phone or surf the internet for information but I never associated credibility, privacy or authenticity with it which by now, I know my definition was not necessarily that of digital literacy but somewhat of digital skills.
“Knowing the Difference Between Digital Skills and Digital Literacies, and Teaching Both”, an article by Maha Bali (2016)
Bali, Maha. “Knowing The Difference Between Digital Skills And Digital Literacies, And Teaching Both”. Literacyworldwide.Org, 2016, https://www.literacyworldwide.org/blog/literacy-daily/2016/02/03/knowing-the-difference-between-digital-skills-and-digital-literacies-and-teaching-both. Accessed 20 Feb 2019.
This article sheds light on the difference between two crucial terms: digital literacy vs digital skills. Bali exemplifies the difference between both terms using adequate examples that we encounter in our daily lives. Digital skills is the “what and how” but digital literacy is the “why, when, who and for whom”. I never really knew the difference between the two and if you have just read above. After having a discussion in class on what the term meant and how we should choose images that are for fair use, recognizing the copyright laws attached to them, we did not mention an essential part of the term which is: “to use alternative text for images to support those with visual disabilities”. I always try to think of others before I proceed with any decision and growing up with a father who works in the community development field, it was an integral part of my development as an adolescent. Since this is the time when bullying really comes into play and if you are able to recognize that this is right and this is wrong then you are definitely on the right track. Going back to the definition of digital skills and literacies, reading Bali’s definition of both reminded me of many situations between my grandmother and I. It is not news when I say that the older generation has a difficult time coping with technology nowadays since the advancement has been one that is quite astonishing. A few weeks ago, my paternal grandmother asked me how to download apps on her new phone and to teach her how she can add her friends on Facebook and I thought: “she has never been taught to do this but more importantly she was not a child when this application was introduced so she is unable to just “get it” instead she has to learn how to navigate her way on the social web. I taught her how to do it and reading this article, I realized that the process of acquiring digital skills differs greatly from one person to another or more specifically from one generation to the other. But the one that is even more apparent is digital literacy. Creating her Facebook page and adding images, she was so hesitant to upload anything, believing someone was out to get her. I realized that privacy and security is much more embedded in earlier generations than in my generation. Myself and my friends blast the internet with our pictures, the places we go out to, who we associate ourselves with, the music we listen to and so on, you get where I am going with this. Here is this woman who is so scared to even upload a photo of herself as her profile picture. I immediately thought of this encounterment and it hit me: I am so oblivious to the issue of privacy because it was never really something that was taught to me or mentioned in any of the classes that I took over the years. It is just not a topic that is discussed as much as it should be.
“The Digital Literacy Universe: Episode 1”, a podcast by Monita Bell
The concept of discussing privacy or safety just like you read above is not embedded in our educational system. I don’t remember the first time I found out what privacy is but I do know the basics. I believe I acquired this knowledge by just growing up and being exposed to articles, knowing people who had their pictures stolen, etc. Bell highlighted a crucial point when it comes to the digital world: “how can we take control of what we put out into the world, and how to respond when we encounter hate online. How are we empowering students to use the Internet and other digital tools to make change?” (1) I always try to voice my opinion online, calling out people who need to be called out for the absurd content they post. But when it comes to hate, it is different. People fear judgement, arguments and debates that they would rather stay silent than be put on display to the entire world. There is some taboo especially in Egypt that people insert themselves in other people’s lives when it comes to the personal aspect but never anything else. You would hear people say “did you see what she posted, look what she wrote” but addressing the issue is never part of the talk. We are just good at talking and then doing nothing about it. But what really fascinates me is the amount of fake news and websites that spread like the plague in Egypt. You’ll always find grandmothers and other senior citizens share posts of kidnapped children, chemicals in Pepsi cans or poison in medicine that are not backed up by any evidence and do not come from credible sources. Personally, I do not believe a single thing shared by any publication house even if it is credible on the internet in Egypt. I believe it once I found other international news platforms reporting on the issue. I just do not understand why people just believe everything they see. They just never stop and think is this true or not and it seems absurd to me. I am not saying I’m an expert but I can differentiate between obvious fake news and real. Connecting this to class, the video of Trump was one that I fell for deeply. This was a trap because it was so well made that it was something that could come from such an ignorant and unpredictable man. You can never tell just by looking at it because there are experts who try to manipulate and convince you otherwise. I could kind of relate that to my major: Marketing but it is kind of more ethical than this. Mediums of marketing such as TV and print are dying and online marketing is booming. The reason for that is that you can reach so many more with more filters that you reach the people you want exactly. Marketing plays with your mind and makes you think you need something you don’t actually need. But I don’t believe it gives fake news by any means. What really is fake to me is Wikipedia which I was surprised to hear Matthew Johnson of Canada’s MediaSmarts talk about. You are always taught in school that Wikipedia is the fakest of all on the internet. He believes it is more reliable now but to me this website will always be unreliable because I can go in and add any hoax information and it will probably get approved which gives a platform for all scammers to voice their opinion. Voice is a really important concept because it serves as a representation of who you are and what you stand for. I think people try to shut each other’s voice so often to assume power that it has become part of their daily routine. Certainly, everyone has a voice and could use it to be the change but Shana White with the Constellations Center for Equity in Computing at Georgia Tech said something that really resonated with me. She said: ““No, we don’t need to give them something they have. We need to get out of their way and provide opportunities for them to share that voice.” (13) It reminded me of Taiye Selasi’s Ted Talk “Don’t ask where I’m from, ask where I’m local” where she said, “how could I come from a nation? How could a human being come from a concept?” and it stuck a cord in my body because we have been so accustomed to being put in boxes, borders and having our own things taken away from us whether it is voices or places. Why should someone control my voice or place me in a race, country with barriers all man-made and controlled by a larger force, bigger than all of us. Voices should not be shut down and people should not be limited to speaking out or living because of where they come from because when we put barriers and constraints on topics, it limits our creativity and critical thinking which could ultimately change the world.
“What is Digital Literacy” Article
Post, Guest. “What Is Digital Literacy? – Blog”. Teach.Com, 2017, https://teach.com/blog/what-is-digital-literacy/. Accessed 20 Feb 2019.
This articles gives a deep understanding of the definition of digital literacies as well as its importance. It stresses on the importance in that it has become an integral part of our daily lives that if you are digitally illiterate you might as well be illiterate. The digital world is now apart of everything from work to socializing to consuming information. We sometimes go online to destress but it can also be a very stressful world. I believe learning technological skills is an essential part of being up to date with the world and even though there seems to be extreme backlash for how technology is becoming a huge part in children’s lives. I believe it will benefit them in the future because we do not know what the future holds for the world of technology. If they do not learn everything now, they will have to learn everything then which will be much harder. Just look at our parents and grandparents and how they are suffering daily trying to keep up with the changing technological world.
I genuinely love online surveys even if it is on a bogus website because I believe they provide you with some insight into a certain aspect of your life that you may have never even thought of. I believe it brings hope to the hopeless, a light in a dark tunnel that can somehow guide them into an unforeseen path; something to believe in. But this test was different, not your average what your life will be like in 5 years kind of test. I consider myself to be technologically skilled but this survey thought of technology in terms of the actual tools used, for example, learning how to check for viruses. Before reading the description, I thought technology? I am certainly confident but when I read the criteria for what someone confident in technology is, comfortable resonated more with me. Finding and using information as well as creating and innovating is an essential part of my major: Marketing, which I believe is where my strengths in the digital world lie. The most shocking category was Identity and Well-being not in that I was unaware of what identity on the digital web means but more that I have never encountered anything that would make me take serious precautions. Of course, protecting passwords and public information online is ABC internet but dealing with firewall and malware is out of my scope of knowledge. I think Identity and Well-being is where I need to focus on improving due to the importance of such a concept and how it can greatly affect people’s lives.