Friday, 20 November 2009
Another weekend already. Hard to believe that seven days have passed since I last sat down to post to the blog. All week it’s been head down; not only did I start the information literacy workshops, but the revisions to the collection development policy statements that we had assigned to the selectors had been reviewed by the head of that unit and she wanted to set up individual review sessions with each selector. In addition, I still had my Arabic tutorials to prepare for and I had to find time to shop, cook, clean (well, not much of that…), and all the other little tasks that fill a day.
The information literacy sessions, which were a continuation of the one we set up two weeks ago, were not as well attended as the first one and I was disappointed about that. I realize that not everyone was able to attend because of conflicting schedules and other assignments, but I had hoped to be able to have enough people to do some demonstrations of different teaching approaches and strategies that might help to address the problem of students not engaging with the course material. After some consultation with Amira, we decided that it might be useful to take a practical approach to this problem. Amira had been wanting to offer a course on Web 2.0 but had not yet begun to formulate it. I suggested that we use the workshop sessions as a laboratory for doing just that, thinking that we could address the problem of student engagement and possibly some others as we developed the course.
While the instructors were attentive during the second session and I was able to elicit responses to direct questions and discussions of problems, there was stunning silence when I asked about specific approaches for teaching individual units in the course we were designing. It occurred to me after the second session that this was perhaps due to the fact that they all came from a very traditional educational background where lecturing was the main—if not sole—method for conveying information. With another Eid (Eid al-Adha, Greater Bairam or Feast of the Sacrifice commemorating Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac to God) approaching, we won’t be able to make much headway on this, but the break will allow me to do some more thinking about how to approach this part of the project. In the meantime, it’s back to Cairo for another Fulbright trip, which I will write about in the next posting.