Introducing the project to the IUG students

by Anna Rolinska

Yesterday, on Sunday the IUG student applicants took an English test, which allowed the assessment of their language proficiency for the purpose of participating in the EAST project. 16 applicants were successful and so today they logged into the WizIQ room to meet Bill and myself for the intro to the project. It was a great pleasure to meet them, hear them speak and even see some of them on the webcam.Suddenly it all became very real and despite having participated in such sessions many times it always fills me with wonder to experience how technology allows people who are countries and time zones apart to meet and talk together as if they were in the same room. Well, almost the same room as there was a bit of background noise throughout the session and on occasions using the text chat was a more reliable option when asking questions than the audio chat.

Getting ready for the introductory session

Getting ready for the introductory session

 Bill took the lead and introduced the students to the project, talking them through the rationale for the innovations, details of the inter-cultural collaboration, suggested time scales, and anticipated gains for the students. We believe there is a lot for students from both the universities to gain from the project and we hope the IUG students can see the potential of the project for their academic and professional development.
Bill explaining benefits of project participation to the IUG students

Bill explaining benefits of project participation to the IUG students

At the end, Bill summed up the introduction by emphasising the two main aims of the project, namely:
  1. To allow IUG and UoG to gain experience of online working (which will enable a more far reaching IUG / UoG collaborative programme in future years)
  2. To raise awareness among our students about the situation in Palestine
Even though I’d been familiar with them, it was good to be reminded as I realised again what a valuable learning experience the project can be for everybody concerned and how grateful I am for being part of it.

Question time

Then there was time for questions for students. We were very curious to hear what the students thought. At the beginning there was some silence, with a few ‘thank yous’ in the text chat; with some encouragement the students spoke up and asked relevant questions which provided evidence of their engagement with the content of the presentation as well as gave us a sneaky sample of their language skills.
IUG students asking questions about the project

IUG students asking questions about the project

Here is a summary of the most important questions and answers:
  • required time commitment throughout the course

It’s hard to assess how much time exactly the students will need to participate in the project; the constructive criticism task may take around 2 hours to complete but this will be distributed over the course of a few days; the skype meetings with UoG students are likely to take up to an hour each; the students are expected to communicate with each other frequently enough to keep up the momentum so time needs to be allocated to the asynchronous communication; the final presentations will probably take up the whole morning. To sum up, the total time may amount to 10-15 hours but we need to remember it will be spread out over the whole month and most of the contact will be asynchronous so there is a lot of flexibility.

  • dates and times when one needs to be online

At the moment, the only part of the project that has been scheduled and would require the IUG students to be present at a given time and day is the final videoconference during which UoG students give the final presentations. This is going to take place on 31 August in the morning/early afternoon of UK time. The students are also required to meet up online with their UoG groups in the first week of the project (starting 4 Aug), most probably Wed-Thu, but the exact date and times are subject to negotiation. As mnetioned above most of the communication and collaboration will take place asynchronously, which means there is flexibility when students log on. We would expect though that they log into the online spaces often enough to ensure smooth progress.

  • online spaces used during the project

We’ll be using a few online spaces, for example a Padlet to share scenarios and Google Docs for the constructive criticism task (links will be provided in due course) but the closed Facebook group will be the hub of the activity,  a communication channel between the project team and students as well as students themselves

  • availability of the presentation slides

The slides are now available on the website, under Project Documentation tab or by clicking this link.

There was also a very good question from Ghadeer about the nature of the contributions from the IUG students. She wondered whether the IUG students couldn’t be involved in the process of writing the subject-specific essay too. That was a very interesting question and certainly a good suggestion for the future reiterations of the project. We would very much love the IUG students to get even more involved in the research project but at the moment it is not realistic. UoG students need to write their essay individually as it is subject to assessment, based on which they are given entry onto the post-grad courses at UoG. This requirement excludes the possibility of students collaborating during the write-up stages. However, we believe the IUG students can get plenty of practice in writing through participating in the peer review activities nad giving constructive feedback to the UoG students.

Wrapping up the session

We shared the link to the website at the end of the session and it was fascinating to watch the stats and see the increase of views from Palestine. At the moment of writing this post 4 students have already joined the Facebook group and two introduced themselves. We’re looking forward to seeing more joining us – from our IUG partners we know that all the 16 applicants who attended the session today are interested in participating in the project.
This is great news and we are looking forward to learning more about them in the coming weeks!
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3 thoughts on “Introducing the project to the IUG students

  1. Dear Anna Rolinska,

    Hope this finds you well. First of all, I would like to ask about kind of problems or issues that we should suggest next meeting? These problems are related to our major such Computer Science or related to general issues in our community in Gaza. Second of all, Is there any class about how to write a generic constructive criticism essay? Finally, I think that It would be good if you give IUG students practice on writing generic constructive criticism essay.

    Best regards;

    Like

    • Dear Oussama, thanks for your comments. I replied to them on Facebook but copying my replies here so that any student who hasn’t joined the Facebook group yet can read the answers.

      Re: the kind of problems, these should be related to science, engineering and technology and be problems experienced by the Gazan community. We will be able to give more information once we’ve got a definitive list of our students’ specialisations. We will be asking you to submit two or three problems so if you’d like to start thinking about it, you can think of problems related to your major as well as more general problems (however, related to the SET discipline).

      Re: the constructive criticism practice, we’re still waiting for more IUG students to sign up for the project; once we’ve got the required number, we’ll share a sequence of tasks with you which aim at practising giving constructive criticism. They will require some writing but it won’t be an essay. I agree with you and Ghadeer, who asked a similar question yesterday during the session, that having you write an essay would be a great thing but we need to be realistic. This is because of limited resources at the moment – the project is a small-scale project but we are hoping to have something bigger next year. So apologies but hopefully by looking at the samples and by collaborating with our students you will be able to practise thinking critically and giving constructive feedback.

      Hope this answers your question!

      Like

  2. Pingback: IUG list of applicants has been finalised! | EAST Project

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