To begin with this conference was held on the 26th of February from 8:30 am to 2:00 pm, at Moataz Al Alfi Hall, the American University in Cairo (New campus). More precisely, it was the CLT’s 15th anniversary event known as “CLT: Celebrating 15 years of promoting excellence in teaching and learning”.
Briefly, this event featured CLT Teaching and Learning Hubs which took place throughout the day, providing a co-design activity, and a celebratory lunch with Tim Sullivan, the keynote speaker.
In my opinion, this event actually allowed us, as undergraduate students to explore a few useful practices and some effective strategies that address challenges related to our engagement within classrooms, group projects and collaboration, technology integration for pedagogical enhancement, assessment of teaching and learning, and more.
CLT Hubs focused on the following: how can technology enhance the way they teach, how do they know if their students are learning, how can they design group work that actually “works” and last but not least, how can they engage and motivate their students to learn and participate in classes?
To clarify, both students and professors were divided into small teams. Each team dissected a challenge related to teaching and learning at AUC, and worked together with the facilitation of CLT to co-design creative strategies in order to overcome those challenges and explore the best possibilities and opportunities for a better learning atmosphere within classrooms.
More precisely, our team was divided into 3 professors and 4 undergraduate AUCian students including me. First of all، we began with discussing the reasons why the majority of students always come late to 8:30 classes in the morning. One of the professors commented: “I can’t really understand if this became an attitude? Why do my students come late to classes? I always take my time to prepare and show them interesting visual materials including entertaining videos and at the end, they miss all the fun just because they’re too ‘lazy’ to come early?? This is very demotivational !!” Another professor commented: “I assume that they don’t have enough time to wake up, eat their breakfast, dress up, drive and park! This is way too much”. We actually agreed on what they both said, emphasizing on the fact that we’re human-beings, we do have a social life because we’re not machines as most of the professors expect us to be. One of the present students shared their personal miserable daily routine saying: “I wake up every morning at 6 am, arrive here at 8:30 and leave by 9:00 pm. I spend the entire day in college running from a class to another. This is way too much for me!”. Therefore, a professor thanked the student for the clarification commenting sarcastically: “I realized now why do I teach DEAD bodies at 8:30 am classes!”. Another professor disagreed completely with our point of view by saying: “This is your job. If you don’t like it, leave it!”. However, we all agreed at the end that 8:30 am classes aren’t as beneficial as 10:00 am classes because most of the students either come late or literally come “dead” to these classes.
Second of all, we discussed the importance of attending classes by agreeing on the fact that our attitude changes within classrooms by working in groups (or pairs) and participating in various discussions. A female student commented: “Classes make me feel more confident about myself especially when I participate or work with my classmates”. On the other hand, a male student complained about group work activities and suggested to find other options or alternatives for group projects for people who prefer to work individually.
Third of all, we talked about the professor online student evaluation. On behalf of students, this is a long, time-consuming and unnecessary process that students only do it to get the 2 or 3 percent bonus. While professors perceive it as useful and important process that provide them necessary feedback that they can use later to innovate their teaching techniques for the following students.
Other significant topics were discussed including quizzes, grades, attendance, class participation and course materials.
Overall, I can tell that both students and professors took the co-design session too seriously, which led them all to participate, discuss, analyze, critique, comment, share personal experiences and express freely their point of views.
In conclusion, the good thing about this co-design session is that it effectively broke the ice between both students and professors, bringing both of them to the same table, working together in small teams, discussing future plans and strategies that affect both of them. Henceforth, after attending this session, I’m expecting to see real positive outcomes and appreciated changes within classrooms. In other words, starting from the next semester, I’m expecting to experience a better innovated learning atmosphere within classrooms that involves a better understanding and healthier communication between students and professors.
Here are some pictures that I took during the event, using my phone’s camera: