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.