Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 22 seconds

Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Arab and Egyptian Perspectives on Digital Literacies


Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 22 seconds

Every semester, students want more in my course to do with Egyptian context. Although we always relate everything in the course to our own lives, there are always opportunities for more.

Last semester, I asked students to contribute a reflection/analysis of some social media phenomenon in Egypt, a YouTuber, a Facebook group, an Instagrammer… whatever… and how they were applying digital literacies in their context for their goals. The result is this padlet, which I will use in future semesters (hopefully this one inshallah included):

I have plans for a couple more things this semater

  1. Students to apply different sections of Data Detox Kit and create versions of it in Egyptian Arabic video with adaptations for context. This was already in my plans
  2. Students to write their own narrative for digital futures in the Arab world. This is inspired by a project happening on my own campus as part of A2K4D (Access to Knowledge for Development) – I attended an event of their last week, but recently learned about this Speculative Data Futures project. This one has short stories, similar to sava saheli singh’s futuristic Screening Surveillance short videos. I think students would be happy to create their own short story in written or video form, with an Egyptian story or context. I hope A2K4D will consider publishing the good ones my students make. Now, to find a place for them in my syllabus as an option among some of my more loosely defined assignments.

In this way, students reflect more on Egyptian context and contribute knowledge back to the community that will hopefully have value beyond the class. Inshallah

Today, I read one of those stories. To Whom Do the Streets Belong? This will be super interesting to discuss in class as it juxtaposes oppression from Israeli occupation onto Palestinians but also oppression of Palestinian men harassing women in the streets. And offers a tech solution to the latter, set in the future. It’s worth discussing whether such stories truly are futuristic, or simply imagine today’s probems in the future without much change. It’s also interesting how this one combines hopeful outlook with realistic (bleak) outlook. And offers a solution while recognizing complexity of systemic issues.

I wonder if my student assignment can have choices in it, such as:

Written story

Video story (people or animated or any format)

Role play in class that we can film live

I just need to find some way to ensure there’s a common thread in how they’re assessed because usually when I develop a new assignment my guidelines are vague until I see what students are capable of.

Will discuss with students and see how it goes. First step is to watch and discuss sava’s videos and the A2K4D short stories. Coming up soon!

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