This will be a collection of my thoughts reflecting on the most diverse course I’ve studied in university up till this point. I’ve learned so much and I’d like to give anyone who’d read this an idea of what to expect and hopefully inspire you to study this course as it’ll help everyone in their daily life as an online citizen. In this course, you’ll get exposed to a lot of topics such as privacy, fake news, algorithms, machine learning and data protection, however, it’s not all tech stuff. Beside all this technology topics you’ll also learn about empathy, inclusion and privilege. All these topics will raise your awareness on how to be a better person online as you’ll better understand some online stuff as well as be able to approach people better. I enjoyed writing blog posts as I never considered myself a good writer and as a result never really liked writing and dreaded writing papers for my courses but this course has helped me in this aspect. Another thing I appreciated about the course was how I usually feared that when I participated a lot in class that people would think my additions are useless or that I should just shut up and stop talking but I found out during the last class that some of my colleagues enjoyed my additions and felt that I added value to the discussion or to their general knowledge.
I learned so much in this course through too many tools and activities we’ve used and discussed in class. First off, I learned some stuff about myself, I learned that I like to engage and talk with people from different cultures as I’ve been a part of the Soliya exchange program. During Soliya we had 4 sessions of group video chatting with people online and I got to talk and interact a lot with them. I’m normally a pretty introverted person, however, I know I’m not like that when I’m in my comfort zone which is me, in my room, on my laptop, doing anything really. That’s why Soliya wasn’t that bad of an experience in my opinion – being virtual – as I know I’d have hated it a lot more if it was in person as I’d have been the introvert, shy and quiet kid sitting in the corner not talking. I also learned some stuff that I’ll be able to utilize in my academic life as I’m an MICT (Management of Information and Communication Technology) major student which depends a lot on technology and having a high digital literacy. One of the basic stuff this course has taught me that I’ve used in projects for other courses this semester is using non-copyrighted materials as I now know different types of copyright licenses. As for my social life, I’ve been constantly using Snopes now on the regular to be able to debunk news I feel are fake. This is especially helpful when my mom sends weird news on the family group and I want to set the record straight. One more thing I’ve been showing my friends regularly as I’m still impressed by till this moment is Google’s very own QuickDraw which is a little game that utilizes deep learning through neural networks to learn to recognize doodling. It’s not only impressive, but also a fun activity to do when bored and is quite fun to really see how your doodling ranks up against other people’s (some people are reaaaaallly good at it -might be a drawing board but still-). When I’m done with my undergraduate studies here at AUC I’d like to work in Data Analysis which was a topic we touched upon multiple times during the course of this semester. The main activity I liked in regards to data analysis was the Do Not Track Assignment as I watched the Big Data episode and it was very informative in my opinion.
Over the course of this semester we’ve all had to be content creators in a way and I’m quite proud of some of my creations. First off, I believe the thing I like most of all was my Alternative CV as it really had me dig deep to try and think about all those little achievements I like that other people -specially employers- would disregard or wouldn’t care about. It might be a small assignment that didn’t mean much to other people but I honestly enjoyed it and would recommend everyone to do it even if it’s outside the scope of this course. Moving on, I’ve created a little narrative game with my partner Nourhan Tantawi about something we’re both passionate about. The game’s name is Manufactured Evil and it’s about the pressing issue of plastic pollution that’s increasing around the whole world at a very quick and alarming rate. I would like to believe we’re slowly helping even if it’s a small step I’m still proud of us for attempting it. I’ve made a lot of my friends play this game, granted it was for general feedback at first, however, I’ve also gotten some people to play it in general to be more aware of the problem. Finally, one last thing I created that I’d show my friends is my contribution assignment as I would like to raise awareness to the concept of DeepFakes as it’s quite booming and people are using it to create very realistic looking videos which can be used to start hoaxes and manipulate celebrities and other public figures.
All isn’t fun and games though, if I had the power, I’d change some things about the course to improve it for future semester students. The most important thing in my opinion is the amount of workload as I believe it’s quite high. The doctor makes up for it with flexible deadlines though so it’s not that bad (still a problem though). One more thing would be the way we don’t always know what we should be following for updates as we have a lot of platforms that we need to follow to know what’s coming up, when’s the deadline and what’s exactly asked for us. The information we need is in a way divided on Slack, BlackBoard, Email and the course website which is overwhelming. I’d suggest that everything would be collected and posted on BlackBoard and updated with updates from Slack/Email also included on BlackBoard so we’d have a single platform we’d follow for all our needs. Another problem I think most of us faced was how there was a lot of vague assignments where we’d all keep asking each other and assume/speculate what’s exactly asked of us so we’d be able to start solving it and even then we’re not sure if we’re on the right track or not. One last thing, is that I feel like Soliya was too long (2 hours) I’d have liked it more if it was just 1 hour as dedicating 2 hours every week for this activity was a little time consuming specially that I wanted to engage with them and be actively listening which sometimes required a bit of effort to be actively listening and participating well.
I believe anyone should study this course as it’s an eye-opener in a lot of ways. If you’re digitally literate this course will help you increase your literacy by teaching you about a lot of different topics and get you involved as a creator in the process. And if you’re someone who is not that digitally literate in the sense that they don’t really use technology much and doesn’t use social media platforms would benefit from this course GREATLY as this course is designed to get people to understand better their online activity consequences and what goes behind the scenes sometimes.