Estimated reading time: 7 minutes, 24 seconds

Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Looking Back on 2018


Estimated reading time: 7 minutes, 24 seconds

Today I found myself reminiscing about 2018 and what I am most proud of… the bulk of it is extra institutional work, a lot related to teaching, conf presentations and publications… but surprisingly the first thing on my mind is a parenting one!

Teaching my kid to swim

I sense that we are never really responsible for our children’s achievements, they are. But we take pride in them nevertheless and more so if we had an influence. I am not a good swimmer but I know how to swim. By some fluke, I could not book my kid swimming lessons before we went on holiday this summer, so I just taught her a bit while we had access to a pool daily. I used memory, some YouTube and some web reading and we were lucky she floated easily (apparently not necessary for good swimming but it gives confidence and a good push) and eventually swam on her own before she got formal coaching the rest of summer. Al hamdulilah.

Conference Presentations

Although I did several virtual keynotes this year, for some reason the top conference thing I thought of in 2018 was the two Break Open workshops in OER18 (I was onsite) and CC Global (I was virtual). It was a dream team of people- Catherine Cronin, Taskeen Adam, Christian Friedrich, Sukaina Walji and a couple of the original folks who designed the North American Destroy Open and who invited us to join them Jamison Miller, Christina Hendricks (thanks guys for inviting us!) And Rajiv. I am particularly proud of the article we wrote for OER18 blog and of the provocations we got from the wonderful sava singh, Cheryl Hogkinson-Williams, Thomas Mboa. Here is the webpage about Break Open which links to all this.

I’m also excited about Ubuntu for Who? Which we did at wikimania with a similar group of people. Details here.

And hey. Some keynotes. The best two i think were the eMerge Africa Festival of eLearning conference Challenging Academic Gatekeeping (so much joy to present to a mostly African audience and to widen my circle and I really enjoyed preparing it and delivering it) and the UniCollaboration keynote Flipping the Script on Intercultural learning and Other Stories which I think managed to be extremely interactive and so much fun!)

Teaching and Equity Unbound

I’m really excited about how my CORE2096 digital literacies and intercultural learning Course has evolved to include Equity Unbound – an equity-focused open, connected, intercultural learning curriculum/experience, which I co-developed with the wonderful Catherine Cronin and Mia Zamora. We were also extremely lucky to be mentored by Samantha Ahern and the Mozilla Open Leaders program which really helped us think more strategically and deeply about how to design and build for inclusion, participation, etc. I think it made me better at my own teaching in the classroom… which used pretty much similar material and activities to the semester before…but in a slightly more organized fashion than my emergent self. Having to communicate Equity Unbound to others helped us put stuff together into themes and it also helped my teaching. I also integrated some new stuff including Mozilla Internet Health Report which students loved (they chose articles from each topic and presented on them). I think I was also just lucky to have some really lovely students this semester and honestly every semester I have taught this course. But this semester Equity Unbound (Mia, Catherine and participants) nurtured me in between classes and made me a better teacher, I think.

[SIDE NOTE i am also proud that vconnecting got mentored by Mozilla – the team doing this are Nate Angell,Rebecca Hogue, Helen DeWaard and Wendy Taleo – so two co-directors and two regional leads in our expanded leadership team at VC]

I also designed another course on social justice issues in edtech (for capstone outside the major) and submitted it for an award which I didn’t get. But I am still happy I worked on it and plan to hopefully take their feedback on board (basically they wanted more canonical texts in it) and resubmit it as a regular course later.

People I met (what, it counts as an accomplishment if you work hard for it and it makes you feel good, right? And itt makes others happy too)

I am sooo happy I got the chance to hug

  1. Sherri Spelic in Cairo and have her over for brunch and have her teach one of my classes. It was awesome
  2. Paul Prinsloo keynoting our Symposium anniversary event …and meeting him and Sherri for lunch with my daughter
  3. Sukaina Walji here in Cairo keynoting our Open Access event, and having her over lunch and going to the museum with her and my daughter and cousins.
  4. Mia Zamora in the UK. This was maybe the most special in the sense of finally meeting someone you love so deeply but have never met in person and immediately feeling at ease as if you’ve known them all your life? That feeling.
  5. Alan Levine in the UK
  6. Tannis Morgan in the UK. We had met in OER17 briefly but we spent time on the train this time and I am so glad I got this opportunity to know her better
  7. Taskeen Adam in UK
  8. JR Dingwall in UK
  9. Tim Owens in UK
  10. I know there were others but those stand out most right now.

I am also excited about a host of folks I have invited to come to Cairo in March inshallah for two different events.

Articles I wrote

I (ahem) sometimes forget stuff I write. So here are ones that stand out most.

I co-wrote one with Autumm (in press) imagining an alternative approach to faculty development that centers ownership agency and connectedness. I loved the process of this one and the output. Published Dec 20

I co-wrote a collaborative autoethnography on my first run of the digital literacies and intercultural learning course…the paper is on global citizenship and my co-authors are my students and a peer observer.

I co-authored a book chapter on MOOCs in the Arab world with Nadine Aboulmagd (my mentee who did an awesome MA thesis on MOOCs. Also proud of her work on that thesis which I was involved in – but she did all the work).

I also co-authored a chapter (for an open textbook) on critical digital literacies with Cheryl Brown (in press) and I just submitted one critical digital literacies with a2 twist. Excited about both.

I was part of NMC Horizon report again. Don’t know what this counts as….

Also. This very recent one about how to make academic spaces Truly international.

Oh and my chapter The Unbearabwhiteness of the Digital in Disrupting DH is out!

Internal stuff (aka that fulltime job they pay me for, thank you)

  1. I got renewed for 5 more years (this is a process like tenure review)
  2. We organized a great 3-day CLT Anniversary event this year where I had a big role
  3. We are working on AUC’s first Open textbook with Rebus
  4. I led the design of our first extended Learning Community at AUC: Faculty institute of Learning and teaching. It’s been going mostly well! We also tried some cool new workshop approaches and designs
  5. We ran the first MITx integrated courses in Spring
  6. We are developing several online and blended non-degree courses
  7. I was part of several committees, task forces etc working on quality of education and setting strategy for digital Education
  8. There was a lot of restructure and the emotional labor Involved was just…. I can’t even.


Definitely being voted for Women of the Commons Coloring book!!

I was also interviewed for several podcasts. Most recent one is Legends and leaders of online Learning. Thanks Laura C for suggesting me!

Other notable podcast appearances and similar

I was on Pushing the Edge podcast with the awesome Greg Curran talking equity. The entire series is awesome.

I was one of the guests on the 200th episode of Bonni Stachowiak’s podcast Teaching in higher Ed

I was on several Open Ed online events. Most recent is the one Rebus office hours focused on CC licenses. I lost track of the rest…

And oh yeah. Folks i finally met online

Key here that i remember…

  • Nancy White (via the eMerge Africa conf)
  • Stephen Downes interviewed me for his MOOC. A kind of recognition?
  • Cheryl Hogkinson-Williams
  • Jess Mitchell (at an open event whose name I do not remember haha where we and Sarah Hare were guests)
  • Taskeen Adam (yes she appears twice)
  • Parisa Mehran
  • sava singh (finally!)
  • Thomas Mboa
  • Tutaleni Asino
  • John Okewole

Tough times…

It was a really tough year personally (my health, family members’ health, things to do w my kid and more) and professionally (lots of institutional demotivation all around) so i wanna just acknowledge how hard it was to do all of the above in those times.

Enough for now.


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