Sunday, November 16, 2014

"Gamifying Your Classroom" by Fady Morcos

 By Karim Abdel Kodos and Nada El Nakoury

Cairo, Egypt - The Center for Learning and Teaching (CLT), organized a  faculty workshop under the name of  “Gamifying Your Classroom”, by the facilitator Fady Morcos, on Tuesday,  Nov. 4, about using games as a tool, not only to solve problems around student motivation and engagement, but also to enhance their experience.
In an effort to reach more students, the CLT at The American University in Cairo introduced a new teaching technique under the name “Gamifying your Classroom.”

According to the event description, “Gamifying Your Classroom” will integrate game-thinking technique in classrooms that could promote active learning, and enhance student interest and engagement.

Integration of game-thinking techniques Adding a “game layer” to a syllabus, course policies, workload, grading system, and learning material can generate products that are very engaging and influential to both the player (student) and the developer of the gamified experience.

According to Maha Bali, associate professor of practice at CLT, the workshop, which was held at AUC New Campus Library, was their most attended workshop.

She also talked about the role of the (CLT) in always updating professors with new techniques, and how they can facilitate workshops according to certain departments and their needs.

The presentation was mainly about boosting the motivation and engagement of the students.

“I’m in the process of gamifying the whole thing for my classes, but at this point, I’m trying to use different tools to test different things to know how they work,” said Morcos.

On the other hand, when Morcos was asked to what extent does he think such applications are effective, he said that it’s important but it’s not the only answer.
“It’s a tool, if you look at the goals that you want to achieve in education, you will see that games have been successful in achieving all those goals, so it’s just a different domain,” Morcos added.
Some professors realized they have already been doing this in their classes. They enjoyed the workshop because they knew how exactly it should be applied.
“I found it very useful and refreshing, but I would’ve liked to have more sessions even one to one because it went really fast."  
About the capability of AUC professors to apply such techniques, he said that it’s like any other application and it needs training.
“It requires a little bit of work in the beginning when you start teaching it at class, but then, I think it pays off dramatically,” said Morcos.

Although it needs some time for the professors to get used to such technique, Morcos thinks that gamifying the classrooms will have a great impact on the motivation and engagement of students.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Path to a Green Egypt
Reem Fatteh El Bab and Yossra M. Hamouda

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    Egyptian young entrepreneurs disagreed on the government’s role in environmental sustainability Sunday, Nov. 9.
  This lecture was the third lecture of Seminar Series called "RISE Seminar" organized by Research Institute for a Sustainable Environment at the American University in Cairo. The lecture was moderated by Rachel Diniega, a Virginia University graduate with a double major in global development studies and environmental sciences and a minor in Middle Eastern studies. The lecture’s objective was to present some of the successful start ups initiated by young entrepreneurs in the greater Cairo region.
      Amr Bassiouny, the founder of Egyptian Hydrofarms said that the government acts as an obstacle to organic food industry; and that he wished the government eliminated its intervention.
      While Yaseen Abd El Ghaffar, the founder of Solarize Egypt along with Rana Alaa, said  that they find the government contributing with mega-scale projects to the solar energy field in Egypt.
      The three speakers continued explaining more about their projects. Bassyiouny said that the general public’s belief in organic food in Egypt declines because of the dishonesty of the farmers with the consumers; while on the other hand, the niche market of organic food was increasing. The farms sometimes sold food that is not organic claiming that it is.
       Abd El Ghaffar and Alaa said that their company’s target is to solve the problem of electricity in Egypt and its social impact through solar energy. Abd El Ghaffar added: “Calculating opportunity and exporting costs reveal that fossil fuels are more expensive than solar energy.”
     “Projects like these are what really gives us hope. The lecture was really beneficial, and I might consider pursuing this as my career after I graduate,” said Amina El Gammal, one of the lecture attendees. She further explained that she attended the lecture because she found the title interesting, and that she had always thought that the lack of environmental sustainability was one of the largest problems Egypt is facing.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Candygirl Author Gives Lecture on Imagination and The Reader

By Maghie Ghali, Amr Zaghloul and Menna Abdelbaky

Here are some selected audio highlights from the lecture:

A slide show featuring photos taken at the event:

Selected clips from the lecture:

Mohamed Tawfik, Egypt’s ambassador to the United States gave a lecture on Thursday Nov. 6 about his novel Candygirl at The American University in Cairo (AUC), to talk about imagination as part of the One Book, One Conversation, One community Reading Initiative.
Tawfik began by talking about his early experiences with Egyptian workers and how they would tell stories and enjoy new tales, “one day they discovered I had traveled out of Egypt and I would tell them stories about Paris; about Vienna.” Due to these experiences Tawfik saw the wonder of storytelling and it inspired him to tell his own, leading to him becoming an author who has written several books.
As the lecture progressed, Tawfik’s main topic was presented. He talked of the creative interactions between the author and the reader, believing that “the act of reading is essentially an act of creation.” What the reader imagines is almost more important than what the author envisions.
Furthermore, imagination and knowledge were two concepts that were also addressed by Tawfik. He stated that “regarding the element of imagination, a good novel for me is like a good symphony.” An important aspect is the way imagination is used, especially when talking about cultural stories. His novels are “set in densely populated, noisy Egyptian backgrounds” to give a multitude of sense to explore.
The section on knowledge explored the idea that “what is important is how humans interact and react” to things like books and media. Tawfik also covered issues of translating Arabic to English and the loss of meaning. However, he saw it as “a different way of looking at your own work.”
After the lecture, a Q&A session took place with Tawfik and the audience members. Rhetoric and Composition professor George Marquis was personally not a fan of the novel and felt that “inspiration is more than just a few words of wisdom.”

In relation to upcoming projects, Tawfik said he would be taking time to attend to his political duties for a few years to come.

Other events as part of the One Book, One Conversation, One community Reading Initiative will be taking place throughout the semester as well as another lecture with Tawfik on Wednesday Nov. 12.

A Storify to show the Tweets posted while covering the lecture:

Fashionistas Rejoice: The Cairo Fashion Festival Returns

By Gloria Botros, Nadine El Guiddawy and Farah Fayez

Cairo, Egypt - The Cairo Fashion Festival returned for a third season on Friday, Nov. 7, 2014 at the Cairo Festival City Mall in New Cairo. 

The Cairo Fashion Festival is an annual event that gathers international brand names and local fashion enthusiasts in one place. 

The Cairo Fashion Festival takes place every year with the purpose of shining more light on the field of fashion in Egypt: "If Cairo was once a fashion capital then why can't we bring it back?" says Omar Madkour, founder of the Cairo Fashion Festival on the official Facebook event page

This year, the fashion festival included 15 runway shows featuring designers from Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Lebanon and Jordan. International brand names like U.S Polo and Levi’s were also represented. The runway shows were hosted by actors Ashraf Hamdi and Amina Khalil.  

The Cairo Fashion Festival was also an opportunity for 50 exhibitors to display their products in a bazaar-like area open for the public.

The festival was not only about runway shows and exhibitions but also included live music: Screwdriver, a live band, also provided entertainment for the guests. 

The runway show was only accessible to about 400 guests with an invitation or press pass. The selected fashion-lovers gave the event a lively and extravagant vibe. According to Nayrouz Abouzid, editor-in-chief of Alter Ego Magazine and one of the PR managers of the event, the guest list included fashion enthusiasts as well as diplomats from the Mexican and Swiss Embassies who attended the event ‘’to really monitor and see what the fashion scene is like.” 

Abouzid also believes that the role of her PR company is to make sure that the international media and the regional media are aware that Cairo is a fashion capital and is becoming more and more so with time.”

One Egyptian fashion designer in particular got extra attention from the media as she was part of the London Fashion Week. Farida Temraz, an AUC graduate, received an honorary award for her outstanding work in London as she successfully showcased her new collection there. Temraz said that she’svery proud of all the Egyptian designers [who participated]’’ in the event.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Egypt, Morocco and Turkey, From Transit States to Destination Countries

By Doaa El Banna, Rawan Ibrahim and Yasmine Hassan


Cairo, Egypt - Kelsey P. Norman, a doctoral candidate at The University of California, Irvine, gave a seminar on migration and citizenship on Wednesday, October 22, 2014 at The American University in Cairo, AUC, to discuss the treatment towards migrants and refugees in Egypt, Morocco and Turkey.

   The seminar, “Receivers By Default: Determinants of Host State Policy toward Migrants and Refugees in Egypt, Morocco and Turkey,” was hosted by the Center for Migration and Refugees Studies, at the AUC Tahrir campus in downtown Cairo.  

  "What I am presenting is a work in progress and not a conclusion," said Norman, as she explained that she is still in the middle of doing the field research for her Ph.D.

 In the seminar, Norman discussed the case studies of Egypt, Turkey and Morocco based on preliminary field studies conducted in the three countries, in addition to interviews with international migration organizations like the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), public servants from relevant ministries, international and local non-governmental organizations, and community based organizations. "I will be talking with individual migrants and refugees," Norman added.

   Norman stated that almost 50 percent of the world's migration today is from one developing country to another, even though most of the available literature focuses on the experience of the traditional settlement states in the West. She explained that "it is becoming increasingly difficult and costly and dangerous for regular migrants to successfully cross from North Africa into Europe."  

  Concerning the treatment of Syrian refugees in Egypt, Norman explained that some Syrians harbored an "anti-Morsy" sentiment after former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy was forced out of office by the Egyptian military on Sunday, June 30, 2013. Following that historical moment in Egyptian History, there appeared to be a media campaign defaming Syrian refugees; who were referred to as "terrorists," and were accused of allying with the Muslim Brotherhood and the ousted president.

“Syrians, who had been welcomed under Morsy and were able to access services that other refugees could not have, became very affiliated with Morsy and even rallied with him,” Norman explained.

 Norman ended the seminar by presenting some causal mechanisms which can determine the relationship between the host state and the migrants or refugees. These include political economy factors, new institutional factors, post national factors, cultural factors and domestic factors.

  “The lecture was good and I benefited a lot from it,” said Farida, a student at Ain Shams University. Farida stated that she wanted to know about migration and its levels nowadays, and said that she got what she wanted from the lecture.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Access To Knowledge For Development Workshop: The Networked Public Sphere and Civic Engagement, Reflections on Egypt and Tunisia

By: Heba Alam El-Din, Refan AbdelNabi, Sarah Abaza and Toleen Mohammad AlJobeh

The link to A2K4D Workshop slideshow on Picasa album.

Access to Knowledge for Development (A2K4D) held its fourth annual workshop on Monday, June 16, 2014 and began its second session at 11 a.m. The session expanded on developing a better understanding of the role of public network sphere. The speakers: Rob Faris, Jazem Halioui, Fares Mabrouk, and Lina Attalah elaborated on how different activities are taking place in research.

We’re considered to be in the era of mobilization and social networking. Mobilizing over a cause raises the question of “whether the cause is a progressive or a regressive cause, so you can mobilize to support, for example, a regressive legislation.” Said Attalah, chief editor at Mada Masr.

For example, you can rally for a leader to use violence against citizens, which is a negative utilization. Progressive mobilization aims to things such as a regime change.

Mabrouk, from the Arab Policy Institute in Tunisia, emphasized on the reasons why people mobilize and a large-scale example is the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions. So mobilization is an act that doesn’t have a value judgment in and of itself. The cause is what matches what you’re mobilizing over. Mabrouk also highlighted that we need to understand how collective actions are organized online and offline.

The government and other forms of authority are naturally intimidated by the power social media has given the people. This is where civic engagement comes into life.

The people form a community that is capable of discussing and collaborating to create needed social change to improve. These powerful institutes have trouble infusing their strength on online spaces because they tend to support citizens.

The way Internet and mobility are approached has improved because of sociology, “which relates to how the mobility in the Egyptian society, you can find many things but (not) up-to-date in globalization.” Said Dr. Nouran Fouad Ahmed, director of copyrights office in relation with the Ministry of Culture in Egypt.

If the authorities managed to control these spaces eventually, it is by trying to crack the system as it exists. States now are using Facebook to, somehow, control their citizens, which is a regression.

Creating a Facebook page for a certain cause, people who see the posts or comments on a group tend to take these insights in as their own opinions, then others start mimicking them.

There is a responsibility, both as a mobilizer and as a journalist, to distinguish between narrative and fact. “The questions is: how to transform this information into a narrative that is supportive to your cause. This is when, not necessarily the issue is opinionating, the issue is rather, how you become convincing through turning information into narrative so it is a different story.” Attalah explained.

This slideshow is composed of the live-tweets that were tweeted live during the session.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

A2K4D Discusses Research, Advocacy and Policy at AUC

Thursday, June 19, 2014
By Nourhan Abdel Hamid, Tarek Beltagy, Nora Seweify and Mahmoud Elsaeid


   Cairo, Egypt - On Monday, June 16, 2014, three diverse scholars discussed Research, Advocacy and Policy during Access to Knowledge for Development’s (A2K4D) fourth Annual Workshop. The workshop was held at the American University in Cairo’s Moataz El-Alfi Hall, and consisted of five sessions.
The fifth and final session of the workshop included three speakers who each gave their own insights about the topic. The three speakers were: Heba Ghannam, a community outreach manager at Tahrir Academy, Pranesh Prakash, an Access to Knowledge Fellow at the Yale Information Society Project and Tobias Schonwetter, director of the Intellectual Property Law and Policy Unit at the University of Cape Town's law faculty.

 Schonwetter mentioned during the session, “Policy makers don’t necessarily come from the same area,” and seeing how diverse the panel at this session was; his point was proven right.

 The three critical thinkers spoke about the importance of research and what each of them are doing or aim to do in order to reach their initiative. All the speakers adopted different techniques and had diverse approaches towards their research; however they each made compelling arguments.

 Prakash mentioned how he believes that his approach is much more research oriented; not to say that advocacy is not important. However, he explained that achieving thorough research is the main aspect in his point of view.

 “Our dream is to have a new Egyptian generation of critical thinkers,” Ghannam said. She then went on to discuss how she wants her project to influence every child in the country, as one can’t expect to have new innovators if the material being taught to them is outdated. Her initiative has adopted new and fun ways of teaching kids, which have enabled children to learn in diverse ways.

 Another important point was one raised by Schonwetter, which was “Don’t preach to the choir.” This point was emphasized throughout the entire conference, seeing as what good would it make if one addresses people who already have an idea.

 Schonwetter also mentioned how fixing instead of solving is the main aim that should be achieved. Throughout this session, there were several questions, such as; does the law have to change before research is done? How can these scholars influence the government? And how long will it take for an actual change to happen? These questions were certainly answered by the panel with emphasis on research, advocacy and policy.

Open A.I.R. Comes to A2K4D Workshop at AUC

By Mirit Agaiby, Seif Issa, Wadie Zakhary and Yasmin Ashmawy

Cairo, Egypt - Law and business faculty members in the annual Access 2 Knowledge 4 Development Workshop discussed intellectual property and innovation to enhance development in Africa, on Monday, June 16, 2014, at the American University in Cairo.

Members of the Open African Innovation Research Network (Open A.I.R.) who joined the session as panelists were: Nagham El Houssamy, as chair, and Nagla Rizk, an economics professor from AUC’s School of Business. Faculty of Law members at the University of Ottawa, Canada, Jeremy de Beer and Chidi Oguamanam, were also present. The other panelists included Research Fellow Douglas Gichuki from Center for Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law at Strathmore University, Kenya, and Dick Kawooya, assistant professor at University of South Carolina, United States.

Open A.I.R. aspires to better the economies of African countries through emphasizing the evolution of knowledge governance, innovation and intellectual property, starting now until the year 2035.

The workshop’s focus was to discuss the two books that the panelists either co-authored or edited: “Innovation & Intellectual Property: Collaborative Dynamics in Africa,” and “Knowledge & Innovation in Africa: Scenarios for the Future.”

The presenters displayed two short movies, explaining their developmental works in Africa, and summarized the findings of both books.

The first book, “Innovation & Intellectual Property: Collaborative Dynamics in Africa,” tackles case studies on the complex relationships between innovation and intellectual property from nine countries in Africa.

During the discussion of this book, Kawooya stressed on dividing “the Collabrative Intellectual Property into formal and informal interactions.”

“Knowledge & Innovation in Africa: Scenarios for the Future,” discussed three possible scenarios for Africa’s future; “wireless engagement,” “informal is the new formal,” and “sincerely, Africa.” Both books are available for free download.

Shirin Elahi, Open A.I.R Scenarios consultant, illustrated that everyone creates future scenarios in their own heads.

“If I do this, this might happen. Whilst if I do this decision, the route is more likely to be that,” Elahi explained in the video. 

Open A.I.R. spent three years researching scenarios in Africa to better predict the population’s future. Its first draft of the report on these scenarios was revealed at a conference in Cape Town in 2012. 

“We hope that this research would be very useful in practice. We did not do this research so that it could sit on libraries’ shelves,” related de Beer, during an interview.

Open A.I.R. will also participate in next year's A2K4D Workshop at AUC, which will be held in June 2015, to summarize their latest findings and research. 

Below is a slideshow with all the tweets that were live tweeted during the session.

A New Book Covers Censorship Obstacles Worldwide

By Alia El-Mohandes, Nourhan El-Bery, Rana Hassan and Sherwet Salah


Cairo, Egypt – On Monday, June 15, 2014, the Access to Knowledge for Development Center (A2K4D) at the American University in Cairo (AUC) held their fourth annual workshop in Moataz Al Alfi Hall.

The A2K4D consisted of five sessions. In the third session, Access to Knowledge Global Academy (A2KGA) speakers’ explained their contribution to Access to Knowledge (A2K) movements and the collaboration between the Information Society Project (ISP) at Yale Law School and the A2K initiatives at AUC.

Valarie Belair-Gagnom, executive director of ISP and one of the speakers, talked about the role of ISP in A2K movements. Belair-Gagnom said, "ISP believes that A2K is about intellectual property, but it is far more than that, it should be about human flourishing, economic development and human freedom."

ISP deems that A2K is a demand for justice and an issue of "individual participation in human liberty. Producing books and participating in making policies," which would have been difficult without global collaboration, explains Belair-Gagnom.

Professor Nagla Rizk, founder director of A2K4D in AUC, talked briefly about the historical development of the collaboration between A2K and ISP. A2K holds and discusses workshops and case studies from all over the world. In Egypt, they are called "A2K Egypt country studies," Rizk clarifies.

A2K Global Academy’s new book discusses different case studies on censorship worldwide, "the book will be published in the next few days," says Rizk. She stated that censorship could take many "complex formations" due to the access to new technologies.

Pranesh Prakash, resident fellow at Yale ISP and one of the speakers, provided detailed information about the upcoming book and mentioned the shift that happened in censorship. "Private actors are now the main issue when it comes to censorship, it is no longer in the hands of the state," says Prakash.

Rizk stated, “When you think of development in its wider sense it’s beyond economic growth so you look at growth of incomes but you are also thinking of health, education, democratization, political well being and all of these issues are in one way or another affected by technology and knowledge.”

A2KGA’s main goal is to promote A2K as a framework for policy making and advance economy research that reflects to immediate needs. A2KGA would help in developing model curriculum to teach students based on their research activity, Rizk concluded.