Friday, April 3, 2015

Boraie and Abdelrahman Session at the AUC Social Media Conference #AUCSMC

By Shahd Amr, Amina El Khadem and Omar Salem

The AUC Social Media Conference (#AUCSMC) took place in The American University in Cairo on Tuesday, 31 March from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Jameel Building.

The two social media related courses at The American University in Cairo (AUC): JRMC 4490 Social Media Management (#JRMCSMM) taught by Professor Kim Fox from The Department of Journalism and Mass Communication and RHET 3250 Digital Rhetoric (#AUCnow) taught by Juleen Keevy from The Department of Rhetoric and Composition co-organized the event.

The conference hosted several speakers including Sarrah Abdelrahman, an AUC alumna, who graduated with two degrees, Theatre and Journalism and Mass Communications. Abdelrahman is known on Twitter as @Sarrahsworld. Rami Boraie was also a speaker. He is a standup comedian and a social media and advertising creative. He is @ramsville on Twitter. Abdelrahman and Boraie presented their experiences concerning social media in the last hour of the conference.

Abdelrahman is the second female video blogger from the Arab world. She started her first video on YouTube focusing on the issue of sexual harassment right after the Jan.25, 2011 Revolution.

After receiving many offensive and negative comments, Abdelrahman decided to suspend activity on her YouTube channel which has been inactive for the past two years.

Following Abdelrahman, Boraie presented his talk ‘Don’t take social media personally’. He added that some of the negative comments might actually be constructive comments that could be helpful. He said, “Sometimes haters are just people who are correcting you.”

Boraie also noted that people should only focus on one media channel to be good at, “Know your channels because people who try to be really good on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube, end up average in all,” he said. Boraie referred to his Instagram account  as his 'safe haven' and private time.

In an interview with Abdelrahman following the conference she mentioned that she chose her first topic, sexual harassment, because it bothers her on a daily basis more than any other social problem.

In an interview with Boraie after his speech, he elaborated on his opinions about the impact of social media on people nowadays. He said that now you can know people’s feelings, beliefs, and interests just by checking what they follow and what they like.

According to Kanzy Mahmoud, a Journalism major attendee, "I never knew how social media is so powerful that you can start up your career, and that through social media you can brand yourself."

Over 100 people attended the conference throughout the day, which featured blogger Mahmoud Salem as the keynote speaker. The conference, #aucsmc, had more than 400 hits on the day of the event.

Professors Ask Students to Create Their Own Exams

By Nada Helmy, Nour Eltigani and Lobna Shrief

(Cairo, April 1) - The Center for Learning and Teaching (CLT) held a workshop about student-generated exams facilitated by Professors Fady Morcos and Ezzeldin Yazeed on Wednesday, April 1, 2015 at the American University in Cairo (AUC).

Both professors shared their stories about the topic. Morcos created a Facebook page for one of his classes and let students ask and answer questions so the questions can appear in their final. On the other hand, Yazeed allowed his construction students to create a midterm with its model answers. Both professors found their techniques very effective.

According to Yazeed, a professor of structure of engineering in the construction engineering department, “This strategy helps the professor to know how much the students digest from this course.”

Also, Morcos, who teaches scientific thinking and creative thinking courses, emphasized to his small audience of professors, “Student- generated questions enhance knowledge gaps and identify inaccurate expectations.”

The CLT has facilitated several workshops that promote the application of technology in classrooms and coursework including “Gamifying Your Classroom” that was held in November 2014 and featured Morcos. The CLT will be holding other workshops during the spring 2015 semester.

At the end of the workshop, both professors sat down with the rest of the attendees and started sharing their feedback on the workshop. Even though the workshop only lasted for an hour, all of the attendees shared positive comments about the new examination technique. 

Associate Professor of Practice Maha Bali recalled that the idea of student-generated exams was sparked in another CLT workshop that she facilitated. Bali assured, “I feel that more people should try that kind of thing, I was really happy with the workshop.”

Attendee Hadya El Minyawi, an instructor of rhetoric and composition, believes that “the workshop today gave me a new idea of having students study for the exam and make them cognitively involved in the material as they generate their own exams and taking ownership for their own learning.”

Student-generated exams are found to be effective by Morcos and Yazeed. Both professors will keep using this approach again in their future courses and advise other professors to do so too.

Award Winning Blogger Mahmoud Salem was the Keynote Speaker at the Social Media Conference at The American University in Cairo

By Mai Maamoun, Nour Ibrahim and Sarah Yasser

     On Tuesday, March 31, Mahmoud Salem, a renowned blogger also known as Sandmonkey, talked about the negative effects of social media on society at the Social Media Conference at The American University in Cairo. “Most importantly, how social media, to be dramatic, will destroy your life,” said Salem at his session titled, “All The Roads Lead to This.” As the keynote speaker, he spoke to a large audience of media students, professors and interested visitors. 

     Salem asked, “What is social about social media anyway?” Social media improves connectedness and linkability, but it also “disrupts the natural social order of things.” It has managed to destroy the concept of leaders. There used to be respect for leaders, like Winston Churchill, but today, Salem reflected, if a political figure sneezes during a speech, people would upload a YouTube video of it which would eventually go viral, make remixes of the sneeze on Soundcloud, and create a hashtag called “The sneeze.” 

     Social media is a disconnected way of dealing with people, “It gives you a way not to really talk to people, but you make announcements,” he explained. For example, Twitter has improved communication by setting a certain character limit. He confessed, “It became really annoying when people call me on the phone now.” 

     Salem currently manages his own digital marketing company. He is most well-known for his blog and tweets under the pseudonym: Sandmonkey. He had managed to write anonymously online between 2006 and 2011 until he decided to uncover who he was in February 2011. 

     In an interview after the session (for the full interview: Soundcloud), Salem said social media is important to “put things into perspective” for users. He had stopped blogging for a while, but he blogs when “things get interesting again.” On his motive, he said, “ The only way for me to deal with the miseries of the world actually, in order not to go insane, is by making it funny.”