Testing, testing

by Anna Rolinska

The time of the first online session introducing the project idea to the IUG students (13 July) is approaching fast. To be prepared as well as possible, we arranged for a catch-up Skype call. Thanks to it we could meet two new team members from IUG, Said and  Abeer, whose names so far had only popped up in email exchanges (while Nazmi tries to work out how to get back IN to Gaza, after months of trying to get OUT). Said revealed his name in Arabic means happy and it  certainly came across in the pleasant manner in which he  spoke to us. It seemed clear that both Said and Abeer share Nazmi’s organisational clarity, and his enthusiasm,  which will make working together a pleasure.

It was very useful to have the opportunity to ask some questions to ensure the project goes smoothly. We agreed it is important that the Gazan students have sufficient language skills, especially in speaking and listening so that they can comfortably and meaningfully interact with the students from Glasgow. It was interesting to know how the language proficiency is assessed in Gaza. There are 12 levels, with 10-12 being an equivalent of what is commonly considered ‘advanced’. We thought that at least level 9 was required to minimise the risks of communicational challenges the students may face when working in online groups. To verify the applicants’ language skills, the IUG partners have organised an English exam on Sunday, 12 July.

So far 50 students have expressed interest in participating in the project, which is very promising. A few more have been in touch directly with EAS in Glasgow, mainly students with different specialisms, for example in medical sciences. This shows how eager the students are to broaden their repertoire of skills and knowledge and make the most of any opportunities for academic, professional and linguistic development. Unfortunately, this is a small scale pilot trial and so this year we need to keep the numbers low. However, in the conversation today both sides expressed hope the project will succeed and so hopefully open the door for wider collaboration in the future 🙂
Trialling WiZIQ with UIG partners

Trialling WiZIQ with UIG partners

We also used the today’s meet-up to test the WizIQ software which we are going to use for the introductory session. The reason why we opted for this platform is primarily its accessibility  as the IUG partners have institutional subscription and so have a few virtual rooms at their disposal. The WizIQ room also offers some additional presenting functionalities, for example a possibility of sharing presentation slides with your audience in real time. Having a visual record along the oral presentation should help the Gazan students understand the project idea more easily. The WizIQ room also offers a recording facility, which means we’ll have a long-lasting record of the meet-up to share with students. The software worked well. There was a bit of echo and background noise but using headsets should resolve the issues of audio quality. Overall we were pleased with the session and are hopeful that everything goes well on Monday when we get to meet the students.

The skype chat today was a very positive experience and we are very much looking forward to getting started!
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