Zoom brings together FPU students and counterparts in Egypt | Local News


Franklin Pierce University Associate Professor Zan Walker-Goncalves has found a way to make the Zoom pandemic and remote chat normalization work for his course curriculum, with help from a colleague professor in Egypt.

Working together, Walker-Gonçalves and Prof. Maha Bali from the American University in Cairo brought their classes together to focus on intercultural exchange and its importance in education.

The program, called “Words Cross-Atlantic”, connects the two classes for a series of activities that are both synchronous and asynchronous, focusing in particular on encouraging conversations about writing.

Walker-Gonçalves’ class, “Teaching Writing,” has so far had fun with the activities, she said.

“They are so excited. They say to me: ‘I told my mother about it.’ It’s an exciting group, ”said Walker-Goncalves. Students are in the education curriculum, mostly in primary education, she said, and as such they tend to be “very optimistic.”

The group of Bali students in a class titled “Digital Literacies in an Intercultural Context” were also excited about the activities, especially the part where the two classes met on Zoom recently. They used the face-to-face session to do ice-breaking activities, some of which were based on previous activities in the program, including an “alternative CV” that allowed students to present themselves in a specific format. Groups also spent a great deal of their time discussing writing, as this goal is something the courses share.

“My students loved it; they liked it so much, ”Bali said. “They were surprised at how much they had in common with the other students. It’s something she would have expected more from American students, she said, but the two groups found they had a lot in common about pop culture, including a taste for music.

Two of Walker-Goncalves’ students said they were delighted to find that the two Egyptian students they were paired with liked the same musical artist.

“I was a bit blown away,” said KJ Williams. “One of the girls said her favorite artist was Travis Scott, who is an American musician that Connor and I listen to all the time.”

Juniors Connor Everidge and Williams were paired up for class activities and said they learned a lot from the exchange with their classmates.

“It was unique, and as education majors, we are learning to integrate inclusive classrooms,” Everidge said. “I think that would be a very unique way to do it, with someone from all over the world learning what is going on in their classrooms.”

“We might see ourselves doing this in our classrooms in the future,” Williams said. “Overall it was a great experience, and I hope we can do it again.”

There are more activities in the program to come, including a segment where both classes will read the same articles and mark them up. A reflection will close this shared course.

This is all because Bali and Walker-Goncalves met at the Summer Institute for Digital Learning at the University of Rhode Island two summers ago and reconnected at the same event this summer. They decided to team up for one of the activities to create a program map and decided to put their end product into practice.

The thing they had the most in common, according to Bali and Walker-Goncalves, was that their students “bemoan” the writing and didn’t have much self-confidence.

“A lot of people feel very insecure about themselves as writers or wouldn’t really consider themselves to be writers,” Walker-Goncalves said. With this in mind, the two teachers wanted to inspire good exchanges on the writing process.

“It’s something I do all the time,” Bali said. Earlier in the pandemic, she worked with two faculty members in Australia and the United States to bring their students together to discuss managing their well-being. The difference with this collaboration, she said, is that it’s not just a one-time session, but a multi-week exploration.

And this one could happen again, as these courses are taught regularly by both.

“I would love to do it again,” Bali said, and Walker-Gonçalves agreed.

“It has been a lot of fun doing this,” she said, adding that she was grateful for the support from the university, especially with a digital literacy grant that helped support this program, ” really make lemonade with coronavirus lemons. “

This article is shared by the partners of The Granite State News Collaborative. For more information visit collaborationnh.org.

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