Dear colleague, or probably I should say, the future student of the Digital Literacies and Intercultural Learning class,
Before I write anything, let me congratulate you — you are here in the most rigorous academic experience. After you are done, I bet you’d say: I need this class to last for more: never to end; and never to mark the end of its vibes, its learning part, and its time that allows you to talk to the classmates or the instructor. I know you are now saying that my words seem like a cliché, but they indeed are not. I’d kindly ask you to hold your grudges and read till the end, but carefully, and solemnly you’ll enjoy.
My dear fellow, let me begin by telling you about what I personally learnt in the course. I actually have known along that this moment will come, believing that it is hard to count the many things I gained. Ranging from the thoughtful discussions that sparked critical thinking, to the fun snack time that broke all the social barriers that I had with people, to the articles we read such as The Problem of Othering. All of this culminated in the development of many skills. I can tell you, at first, that when you uphold certain beliefs that resulted from an article you read in class, and you then find that no one will hold you accountable for upholding these beliefs. Therefore, this means that you have developed negotiation and debating skills. This is what happened to me, knowing before class, that I am quite a good public speaker, but the class even moved my skills beyond what I had expected.
I also can tell you about many other things. Many of which would bend on the personal aspect before even the academic one. I learnt to be compassionate and caring with others. This is very important– people need compassion in their social lives, in their careers, and even at universities. At times, the semester was beset with the gloom of the assignments, presentations, and papers, yet this class never let me down. I go there, and I just find all the good things that makes me happy (music, cheerfulness, and lovely photos that are vividly described with the best alternative text). When the instructor is also the most caring creature in this universe, you are left with nothing but to enjoy every single moment. “how are you feeling today”, she often asked. This is a question that touched me as soon as I heard it.
In class, we often watched videos that are truly insightful. I feel, in fact, very proud that themes like racism, equity, and care to be included in this class. I watched a video about Race Card, and it enlightened me on something that I wasn’t even aware of. How people mix their assumptions about racism when it is really racism, and how people sometimes play with it to get a benefit. Dear fellow, I can tell you that watching this and many more will give you a glimpse on some of the life situations that are left undiscussed in most of the academic and formal mediums.
Apart from the learning outcomes, I also learnt many things about myself. I developed this skill (the skill of informal, unrestricted, and personal writing and blogging). I also knew what it means to be othered and oppressed. Many activities we did raised my awareness about such sensitive subjects. As far as I could remember, one of these activities was that we represented multiple groups that are oppressed including a British black person and a Bahaai. This activity particularly allowed me to put myself in the shoes of others, as we, the students, moved a step forward or a step backward depending on our position in the society. Dear fellow, I did not forget that you are here to get a grade, but I learnt also in this course that everything is not always about grading and numbers, and that is what you are going to experience here. The course is ungraded (I will not explain), but please rest assured that you will be fairly awarded the grade you deserve.
Now, I know that you are wondering: what do we do in this course in terms of assignments and projects? I guess you might be able to detect from what I have mentioned earlier: videos; articles; and discussions. But if you are unable to clearly see how the course goes, let me present to you three assignments that I personally enjoyed working on.
Digital narrative game
This is the project of the semester, and it is done in phases in order to divide the work and make it easy. I truly enjoyed working on this project starting from choosing a topic in phase one until reflecting on the final draft in phase five. For more info on this game, please see this link, which includes reflections and the link to the actual project.
This is one of the intercultural learning parts that you, as a student, will engage with to fulfil a portion of the course. Soliya is an experience of virtual exchange with internationals from all over the world, and since I myself very passionate about knowing people and generally building connections, it was a fun time. I also documented my reflections in this post.
Digital literacies pathway
The digital literacies pathway allowed us as students and digital citizens to branch out to new dimensions of digital literacies. Through tinkering, taught, or theory, we, the students, chose what appealed to us from the list of topics. I can really tell that it was a rich experience, as it helped me learn about the things I cared about the most such as podcasting. You may wish to see my full reflection here, too.
Dear fellow, I know that my letter has become long, but I seek to be honest with you in my reflection, hence I am going to tell you if I can change things in this course, what would I do?
First, I believe I will dedicate a larger portion of the course to digital literacies. For example, I think, I will have students do a project about disability literacy in the digital context, so they are better aware of the presence of other groups online. Second, I think this course should contain a community based learning (CBL); therefore, I will initiate a project that targets raising the awareness of the community about an issue in the society. Third, in order to increase the level of excitement in the class, I will expand the scope of the game i.e. spanning the whole semester, thereby including a larger framework in the preparation. For example, I will require scholarly research, some formal methodology to be conducted, then starting the drafting stage. Thus, by the end of the project, students will have learnt to construct a project that caters to the needs of the users and tackles the required functions.
Finally, the last thing I will tell you about the course is that you may consider enrolling if you want to learn more about yourself, your position in the digital world, and your interaction with those from the cultures different from your own.
I hope to see you next semester when I visit😊
With best wishes
Thank you for this lovely reflection, Yasser. I am also looking forward to your future visits to class inshallah