Final Reflection

When I thought about the learning outcomes of the courses that I took at the end of the semester, I found that what I gained from this course was totally different from any other course that I took in AUC. To illustrate, I realized that most of the courses that I took taught me some knowledge about certain topics, calculations that may be required for a certain job, or theoretical  communicating, leading, ..etc skills. All of the previous things were important to be learned, but the interesting thing about this course is that I applied what I have learned from it in real life situations, and I will be applying what I have learned from it throughout my university years and my life.

First of all, I learnt how to be creative and to think out of the box. Although I believe that being creative is not something to be taught, still there are many ways to improve the creative part of the students. This happened as Dr. Maha did not set boundaries for any required assignment. For instance, the professor was giving us the requirements for each assignment without picking a definite form or layout by which the assignments should be submitted. It could be a podcast, blog post, video, short film, or any other form that would help us to express our ideas. Therefore, the professor encouraged us to be creative while learning the required topics. I personally enjoyed shooting a video for the very first assignment Alt CV  where we were asked to introduce ourselves in a creative way. Filming the video was so much fun and full of unforgettable moments, and this was the first time where I enjoyed doing an assignment.

Another thing that I have learned while taking this course was a set of rules that I should follow to stay safe online. As we learned about fake news, privacy, and digital literacies in general. However, my focus was on the fake news topic since my Mozilla Health Report  presentation and curation activities were on this topic. In the Fake News topic, I learnt that I have to be skeptical about any thing I read online, since there are a lot of people who are faking news for the purpose of their benefits and pushing for their own agendas. In addition to this, we learnt a series of steps that we need to follow in order to ensure the credibility of any source of information before we can depend on it. For example, we need to check for the previous work while doing a research on a certain topic. Furthermore, we need to check the source itself and check whether the website/channel is known for its credibility or not. We also need to read laterally about the used source, and finally start searching over using different terms. In addition to this, I knew some websites that were originally designed to check for the credibility of the news such as Snopes and Hoax busters which I have never heard about before taking this course.

Finally, I learnt not to be judgmental. Although this might seem strange since the course is about digital literacies, still we got to learn about understanding and tolerating different perspectives of various topics in life. This was done when the professor asked us to create a game about any topic from our choice that would deliver any message we want to the audience. Thus, I chose to show the people who will play my game that they might be judgmental without knowing that they are. In this game, there were a series of questions including real life situations that everybody encounter everyday. After finishing this game, I realized that many of my friends, family members, and even I turn to be judgmental at sometimes. This game extremely affected my attitude, as I started to monitor myself and whenever I find myself judging anybody who I don’t know, I start making up excuses or reasons for their actions. I do this with my friends and family too; for instance, my mom and I were talking about a rumor that was raised about an Egyptian celebrity, and my mom told me that the act of this celebrity is totally immature. So, I told my mom about my game and that she should not judge her, and after a couple of days we knew that this celebrity had every right to act the way she did and my mom was impressed with my predicting vision XD.

This course was one of the best courses I have taken so far in the AUC. It was so interesting and I enjoyed every single minute of it. However, if I would suggest changes for this course, it would be about increasing in-class activities and decreasing the amount of readings done in class. This is as I believe that in-class activities and class discussions are far more beneficial for our learning experience as they are more engaging and interactive. Also, the Soliya exchanging program which was one of the best experiences in this course. Unfortunately, it was missed by some of my colleagues due to the limited dates and time slots, so I suggest that the number of Soliya sessions should be increased so that students would pick the suitable sessions to attend. As a final note, the course was so interesting, fun, and informative as well. I am glad I have took it <3.


Contribute Assignment

When I first thought about the contribution assignment so many ideas came across my mind. I believe that this is because we are currently at the end of the semester and we have discussed many themes and already learned them in so many different ways. We used to read articles, watch videos, and do class activities which were all beneficial. However, I personally enjoyed doing class activities the most, since they help us in understanding the issue  or concept faster and clearer. Therefore, I thought about doing a class activity related to the fake news theme.

There are many people who use the social media and internet as a source of information or news, and there are many others who get their information from their friends, families, or relatives and count on it as reliable information. This means that sometimes fake news spread out as a result of trusting what other people say which is never enough and should not be the norm. Therefore, this activity will require students to use any of their social media accounts to share fake news about themselves or any other topic. Then, they will watch out others reactions and whether they will believe them or not. This activity might make the students think before they believe what they hear from other people which is needed and thus will increase people’s awareness on the fake news phenomenon. The students would then need to upload another post clarifying that what they previously posted was fake, and elaborating the purpose of the activity which is no matter how close you are to a person, you should not take whatever they say as reliable or for granted without verifying it in a way or another.

Soliya Reflection paper

Before trying Soliya’s communication program, I heard about the chat rooms and the online communicating programs that allow people from different countries to exchange their cultural experiences together. Although that I liked the idea of having people from different cultures and backgrounds sitting together and I liked  that these communicating programs remove the barriers and eases the process, I didn’t have enough courage to join one. Also, I thought that the information that we will be exchanging through the chat session will be about our cultures and countries, which was fine for me but I thought that such information could be extracted easily from the internet so there is no need to spend time talking about them. However, after trying Soliya exchange program, I found out that the topics focus more on who we are, how do we see our cultures, what do we wish we could change, how are we similar or different from other people from different regions. All of these previous reasons completely changed my impression about the program and increased my potential to attend, listen, and participate in the topics. Sometimes I was suggesting topics to discuss since I was curious to know how different countries would react to same situations. For instance, I once asked my session mates what are the stereotypes in their countries and I shared some of my country’s famous stereotype such as AUCians are spoiled, women can’t drive, and many other examples. This experience was really fun because I got to see their reactions on what I said and I heard some interesting examples as well.

Through these sessions I found out that I am the media consumer communicator as we opened different topics where we had to share how did we react on posts on our social media platforms, do we have different characters from our real characters on social media. My answer each time was that I am not really active on my platforms as I just enjoy reading news and others’ posts, and sometimes for stalking purposes “XD”.

This session also gave me an opportunity to think about a constructive conversation. how can we foster a constructive conversation either online or face to face. When our facilitator asked us this question in one of our sessions, I said that if we took Soliya program as an example I would say that we don’t really get the chance to interrupt each other since the program is well organized and it forces you to listen before you grab the mic and speak. However, this chance is not provided in the face to face conversations where some people tend to ignore others’ opinions and keep on interrupting them. Thus, I personally believed that all of us should work on listening to each other, accept different opinions, and to be open to change our opinions if we were convinced to do so.

I liked the overall experience, It added a lot to my personality as I became more patient to listen before saying my opinion, and I also had a background about other cultures that  I didn’t know anything about such as Fenland. I also got to know some people closely, and at the last session the majority of my mates got so emotional ands sad for ending the sessions and we exchanged our social media accounts to keep communicating with each other. The only challenge that I faced while dealing with the program was the duration of the session because sometimes the interesting conversations end on the first half of the session, and the other hour seems less interesting. As I mentioned before, I liked the whole experience and I would love to repeat it again later.

Do Not Track Reflection

Do not track, according to their website, is a personalized web series about privacy and the web economy. They published seven episodes where they discuss the privacy invasion problem, how its done, why, who benefits from it, and how to avoid it. The first episode was about tracking; how to find out who is tracking you, and how you can track them back. Before watching the episode, I knew that social media users’ data are taken by some companies which use these data in directing their ads to the users based on their preferences and needs. After watching the video, I realized that the amount of data leaked without permission by just accessing certain website is huge. For instance, while watching the first episode, the program detected the country I am logged from, its temperature, and detected that I am using a PC. These simple things were detected just by opening their website even though I didn’t sign in with any of my accounts, so what do other platforms which have my accounts could be gathering and leaking from my data. Moreover, the resources around the episode mentioned that avoiding tracking is difficult, but finding out who is tracking you and tracking them back could be done through set of simple steps. They simply provide some tools such as Lightbeam, Ghostery, Disconnect me, and many other tools that help the users to discover who is tracking them across the sites they browse. The second episode called Breaking Ad discussed very crucial problem which is common among all internet users. It is the quick different messages that pop up asking the users to agree, and unfortunately they do. These messages store the details in a small data file (Cookie), and it is counted as an acceptance to allow cookie ads. The episode explained how did these cookies start, so it mentioned that when the web first started in the nineties it was free to access, but when the number of users increased and everyone wanted to create his own web, they needed to find a way to pay for the high storage. The websites that we use everyday are connected with many trackers which aids in filling our pages with cookies. Furthermore, the episode explained what cookies are. Basically, they are text files like ID numbers and they are dropped on our computers automatically when we log in to any site. The purpose of cookies is to make the websites remember the users when they log in to any of these websites for the second time. This can be useful in certain situations such as the shopping online; for instance, if you put something in the shopping cart, you can buy it later at any time. However, these cookies are not always useful as they allow others to track the machines that had their cookies. The resources around the Breaking Ads episode stated that cookies are the basis for billions of dollars of online advertising. The resources also mentioned the problem that cookies advertisers face. Basically, they are two major problems; fragmentation and the browsers which are set to reject cookies or extinguish them. Fragmentation is simply accessing websites from different devices such as mobiles, PCs, iPad, etc.. which make it harder for the cookies advertisers to track the devices. The other problem is that some users set their browsers to reject cookies and mobile phones, which are taking an  increasing chunk of the Web usage, do not use cookies.

Curation Assignment “Fake News”

Social media platforms have been used recently for many purposes other than entertaining, communicating, stalking, or even working “fashion blogger, food stylist, etc.” To illustrate, many people are using social media platforms as a source to get daily news instead of newspapers or reliable news sites. The problem with doing this is that publishing fake news in any social media platform is extremely easy, and spreading them out quickly is much easier. Fake news phenomenon is taking place for different reasons, and it might lead to dangerous consequences. Thus, there are many people who try to develop various ways to fight this phenomena.

I personally was exposed to this topic for the first time in the Mozilla Internet Health Report class presentation. In this presentation, Nermeen, Nadine, and I worked on introducing the Fake News topic to our classmates by testing their ability in differentiating between real and fake materials. Therefore, we started our presentation with a small game where we got some pictures that went viral on Facebook and other social media platforms; some are real and some are fake, then we made our classmates guess whether these pictures are real or fake. Most of our classmates couldn’t make right guesses at all. Instead, they tended to believe any piece of news that came across their pages without checking for its reliability and credibility.

One of the reasons why some people don’t question what they read on the internet is that they don’t know the reasons behind raising fake news. For instance, in one of our classes, the professor showed us a fake video named trump “sea of love” and asked us to comment on it.  I personally couldn’t predict that this video was fake, as I believed that the Dr. wouldn’t show us fake materials. However, there are several reasons behind faking news such as propaganda campaigns, political purposes, or even making profits. Most of the time fake news are designed to target different people with different tastes, so people get attracted to open the fake news which match their interests and find ads popping up for them causing profits for the companies.

An example for the people who use fake news for political purposes are the fake news raised during 2016 elections in the USA. It was basically when Trump campaigners decided to fake a scandal for Hilary Clinton to make her lose many of her supporters and voters. Apparently it worked, as Clinton lost many of her voters after she was surrounded by these fake news. This was such a strong proof that the fake news have a great power in changing situations from winning to losing and vice versa.

That is why Amanda Warner created an educational game “Fake It To Make It” where the players are required to design fake website to share fake news and they gain money from it. Warner wanted to educate people about how serious the fake news phenomenon is, and to show them one of the reasons behind sharing fake news. Thus, when people play this game and find out how easy creating a fake website is, they would be more aware of the problem. I personally tried the game and got 68 points out of 100 after sharing only one article, so now I can imagine how many fake websites I open everyday.

Fake It To Make It was not the only game designed for this purpose, there is also a game called Bad news  which makes the players tweet fake news while measuring the credibility and the number of followers based on their choices. This game made me realize that there might be a lot of famous bloggers who started gaining followers through tweeting fake news and unreliable information.

These games were not the only attempt that meant to increase awareness about this phenomenon and fight it, but also there are the “Four Moves” which we learned about in class which can help us to check the credibility of any source we use. The four moves are actually the four steps that one can take to check the reliability of any source. The first move is to check for previous work which was reviewed before or provided a synthesis of research, so reusing the information would be supported with the previous reliable sources used. The second move is going upstream to the source, which means checking for the original source where the  information were taken from to make sure that the content is taken from credible and reliable source. Then, the third step is to read laterally to know what people say about the used source “the author, publication”. Finally, the last move is to circle back or to start over using different search terms and better choices.

Another activity that we did in class while working on the fake news theme is when the Dr. got us three news and asked us to pick one and to check its reliability. The professor gave us this activity in order to apply the four moves method we learned in class. I picked  the news “Is the Sun “going to sleep” in 2020?” and went for Google search engine. I found articles on Dailymail and National geographic which mentioned that the sun is going through minimum in 2019 and 2020, but the news itself were fake.

This was not the only activity we tried in class, the professor also shared with us an Egyptian article which we were required to assess its credibility. After reading the first line, I realized that the article is translated and taken from another source. The original source was a study made by Paul Hosford and published by The Journal. Looking for the original source was an application for the second move of the four moves which is “Go upstream to the source”. After finding the original source, we only had to check the credibility of the website, look at the previous work of the journal and the author as well.

The last activity we did in class concerning this theme was when the professor divided us into groups and gave each group an article to find out whether these articles are fake or not. In this activity, the Dr. wanted us to use different method to differentiate between fake and real news. The method was basically using some websites which automatically check for the news after the users type the title of the articles. Some of the examples on these websites are Snopes and Hoax Busters which were introduced to by our professor to try them on the articles given.

As mentioned before, faking news is such an easy step to take. That is why Sarah Abouelkhair or the “NASA girl”, a student in AUC, made real social experiment which proves that anyone can fake news for the sake of fame. Sarah used her personal Instagram account to share photoshopped stories which reveal that she has been contacting NASA for a huge project. Then, she went further faking other messages from large institutions and celebrities such as SpaceX, Buzzfeed, Netflix, Ellen, ..etc. After short period of time, her FAKE content went viral on different social media platforms and real journals started to publish her fake story. Finally, the NASA girl revealed her social experiment about people who fake news, but there are many other social media users who don’t reveal the fake content they share and use. Thus, people should get the message behind what Sarah did and become more skeptical when they look over any content on the internet.


Game Final Draft “Know Yourself”

If you are reading this article and haven’t tried the game yet I would like you to try it, and to read the game description before reading this article :

As we mentioned before in the Game Topic, Nermeen and I designed this game for a certain reason which was basically helping some people to notice that sometimes they turn to be judgmental although they don’t mean to. I personally noticed that I have been judging some people whom I don’t know in different situations. To clarify, I was building some assumptions on their personalities or life style based on how they dressed or the way they were talking. For instance, when I looked at a girl who dyed her hair green, it came to my mind that she must be a weirdo. This really annoyed me because even if I am not sharing such comments that come across my mind with others, still I have judged someone who I don’t know.

Through the journey of designing this game we have changed a lot of things to develop the game, changes were based on our professor’s and collogues’ comments after they tried the first draft of the game. First of all, we have changed the name of the game from “Judgmental People” to  “Know yourself”. This change was made based on one of our colleagues suggestion when we were discussing our game topics in class; he said that while playing the game, people will keep in mind not to be judgmental so they won’t be completely honest while making the choices. Therefore, we changed the name of the game to “Know Yourself” in order not to give them hint about the game’s aim. Then, the professor asked us to revise the English and flow of the words of the scenarios since it was not clear enough. So we did this through adding the question ” What would you do?” after some scenarios as the professor suggested, and through fixing the wording of the scenarios and choices so that they match each other. Moreover, we changed one scenario in the females section which was “You are traveling to Sahel when you found a car parked on the side of the road with three guys standing next to it and waving for you. Probably they need help”. We changed this scenario because it appeared to be unfair for the female players who play this game knowing that they live in Egypt and it is not safe for a girl to stop for three guys on the desert road, so we changed it to avoid obtaining deceiving results. In addition to this, we had a mistake where one of the questions showed two results for the same choice, so it was a good chance to test the game technicalities in the game’s first draft. We also found some “Untitled sections” before each question which were mistakenly included, so we removed them to make the game look more professional. After that, we received some comments from our colleagues who tried the game. The first comment we received from our colleague was suggesting an addition to the options of a certain scenario which was “A student in your class keeps complaining about the course and tells you that he will be failing the course. However, the grades of the first midterm are out and you find that this student got 100/100 in the exam. What would you do?”. Our colleague’s comment was that when she read the scenario she thought that this student is smart and wouldn’t fail the course but he is a bit nervous so he keeps complaining about the course. However, assuming that the student is complaining because he is nervous about the course is still a judgement that should not be made. Another comment that we received about the same scenario was “I just have one comment on the student who got 100%. I chose the option of asking him to help me for the coming test, and the comment after the question said that I shouldn’t prejudge him as a liar, which I didn’t at all with the option I chose, so maybe add 2 comments to this question in particular, one for those who chose options that imply judging, and another for those who didn’t judge“. After reading this comment, we fixed that through changing the option mentioned by the player to make it much clearer. Furthermore, one of our colleagues who tried the male scenarios suggested that we should limit the number of choices we give to the players because some of them seem to show unfair results, so limiting them would make it easier for the players. Therefore, we implemented his suggestions in many of our scenarios.  Finally, we added a conclusion at the end of the game which was not included in the first draft in order to ensure that the players get the aim of the game.

If I had more time to work on the game, I would have played more with the scenarios. For instance, I would have added varied scenarios for the players assuming they live in another country of their choice, so they would go through different scenarios that matches the culture of the country they have chosen. I also might have made the players to choose different characters to play with, such as: a women in the sixties who live alone, artist, or dentist, etc. so the scenarios given to them would be based on the identity they choose.

After designing this game, I became more aware not to judge others, and I find myself always reminding my friends not to do so. In addition to this, whenever I see something strange which I don’t like and I have some comments in mind about the situation, I remember the game we have been working on immediately and make up imaginary reasons or excuses for this situation. I love the fact that I am finally applying what I am learning in real life and it is positively affecting me to improve myself.

Equity Theme Reflection

Mixing up between equity and equality definitions is a common thing between many people. Therefore, understanding the definition of equity was the best way to start discussing the theme in class. Equity is basically the quality of being fair or impartial, while equality is the quality of being equal. The class slides had a picture that emphasized the difference between equity and equality in a very nice way, and I believe it helped a lot in clearing up the confusion between both definitions. Also, we did an in-class activity to help us understand how some people suffer in the absence of equity and it was so much fun and educative. In the activity, we started with labelling some cards with different identities in Egypt; some advantaged and some disadvantaged such as: someone who has double nationalities, AUCian, rich, … etc. Then, we labelled other cards with the advantages and disadvantages that these identities might have such as: well educated, uneducated, heterosexual, physically disabled, .. etc. and then we randomly distributed three cards on each one in class where each one became the new identity written on the cards we carried. After that, we stood beside each other in a row and the professor started to tell us some situations. So, based on our new identities, the professor would tell us the situation and then if this situation is likely to happen to these identities we would take a step forward (if the situation is favorable) or a step backward if the (situation is unfavorable). This activity was so much fun as mentioned and by the end of it we witnessed some people who stood in a very fore place while others were in the very back as some of us were able to afford different things and experience luxurious lives, while others could not. This added a lot to our understanding of the term equity, since we were able to spot the gaps created between people when they are not treated with fairness.