Last week instead of attending a normal lecture, we did something different that I was shocked and extremely impressed that was available in my university, we attended a Auc CLT symposium about our learning environment and digital literacy. to me, this created an vital space where not only the faculty can learn new ways to engage their students and change their teaching techniques, but also it created positive atmosphere where students and professors could interact and discuss educational factors from each perspective.
I attended a symposium called Teaching in an Age of Complexity: Considering Open, Participatory and Equitable Pedagogies lecture by Catherine Cronin, and I felt like this lecture was an extension of what we usually discuss during class time. The lecturer tried to deliver the very important message that teaching should not only be in physical status without also being in online status because it would not be as networked, that its is important to blur the line between the two and break that boundary. She stressed the importance of digital literacy and the amount of positive impact it could create if educators learn how to integrate it with there teaching techniques, she also discusses how important it is to balance between privacy and openness and that its is a vital part of being a digital practitioner. she informs educators that it is their duty to teach their students how to create identities online and how to make decisions on expressing themselves. And I really relate to this point because I often find myself lost when trying to express my personality online and my default is to actually stay away from technology rather than embrace it. I have been steadily through out this course learning what to share and what not to share, and how what I post will reflect on the impression people will get.
The other CLT symposium I attended was a penal discussion Called “what’s in a grade?” which I enjoyed more because unlike the other talk as this one was way more interactive. It consisted of four panels of pairs, a student and his/her educator. This discussion revolved around what a grade is and how it’s valued which is a question I am sure has went through the mind of every student at a point or in my case a dozen. i find it very demotivating how students are graded and how there effort is valued so this discussion really struck a chord. So, firstly, form the mechanical department Dr Khalil El Khodary and his student Youssef Waga took the stand and he started with a different perspective, Dr Khalil used his position to correct what he believed was the student’s perception of grades. He believed that they are not as important and that they are merely a label. His student reflected on that advocating his option by saying that his GPA was never a factor when being hired for a job. Although I believe his opinion and respect it greatly, I’m must say that it is not all I believe a grade is about, for me its more of a reward. I see a grade as a motivation to lose the few hours of sleep that I so desperately wanted or skip the movie that I wanted to check out or even stay home on weekends after a horrible week, just to finish the project and have it really appreciated. It is the feeling of accomplishment when I feel like it was worth it.
The second on the panel was Dr. Magda Mostafa and student Mahmoud ElKady from the architecture department and this panel discussed something I am very familiar with which is the grade rubric and the grading curve. She highlighted on how she is only able to reward exceptional work because the department only allows her to give an A to 15 % of the class and to me that is the root of the problem. When the third panel stood and Nour khashab discussed the stress and anxiety caused by the amount of pressure that is placed on our shoulders, and how declaring is a hassle and that sometimes the burden of the grade makes us forget what we are learning, at that moment I wanted to respond with a very loud yes! When you reward only 15% of the class an A just because you have to, you are not promoting healthy competition, your promoting anxiety and stress.
The fourth panel attacked the issue of participation and how hard it is to judge because as much as it is important to encourage it some students are just more outspoken than others. Other topics where also raised like the power of feedback and to me this is extremely important because in my major (graphic design) if I don’t get proper feedback that I fully understand then I just wasted a week of effort and hard work because when I come back the professor would just tell me “no this is not what I meant” and I have to change everything and feel like everyone else is ahead of me in their working progress even though I put in the same effect if not more, needless to say, this is extremely demotivating. I believe that each person should be graded based on his effort and each professor should have his own grading standards because no one will ever know how to grade his students better that he does. If a shy person speaks up encourage them and if an outspoken person also speaks up reward him, I would like to end my reflection with a quote by Albert Einstein that I believe all educator should also keep in mind “ If You Judge a Fish by Its Ability to Climb a Tree, It Will Live Its Whole Life Believing that It is Stupid”