I was invited to speak at the 9th International Internet Education Conference & Exhibition in Cairo. The conference was held over two days of tightly scheduled sessions on the 15th and 16th of September. The conference was organised by the Human & Technology Development Foundation with collaboration from the Education & Research Department from The Arab League.
Representatives arrived from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Libya, Oman, Pakistan, and of course many from Egypt. Everyone was either a doctor, studying to be a doctor or a professor or an associate professor. I felt small amongst giants of Education field from the Middle East. Sessions were related to topics such as cyber bullying, Impact of technology on EFL services, Cloud Computing, Web 2.0, Social Networks, E-learning and gaming were only to name a few.
I want to concentrate on just a few of these sessions.
Dr Fatemah Zakareya Mohammad from the Higher Technological Institute presentated her paper on the concept of Game Based Learning.
This concept is something I have been reading about for a while now through my studies. The idea is actually fairly simple and that is to introduce skills through the use of games in education. Students already acquire ICT skills outside of the school through the use of technologies such as Games. Professor James Gee talks about similar ideas and calls the process situated learning. Please click here for his discussion on situated learning and games in education.
E-Learning, Prospects and Challenges:
Although I missed Dr. Yousreya Ahmed Elhamshary’s presentation from the Kafr El-Sheikh University, Information and Development Center (E-Learning Department), on the first day of the conference, she was very kind enough to forward her paper to me. Dr Yousreya uses Egypt as a case study for the implementation of E-learning. She touches on fundamental and key points where most schools and institutes fail to realise and that is “E-learning projects often failed to deliver the results expected, mostly because poor implementation. It is necessary to understand that e-learning is not a technological solution but rather a process with cultural consequences. Successful implementation of e-learning process requires reflection in three main areas people, processes and technology.”
Web 2.0 & Social Networks
Research by the Turkish counterparts on the use of Web 2.0 and Social Networks in education was delivered by Dr Deniz, Professor Halil and Dr Serap. The use of Web 2.0 and Social Network sites such as youtube, blogs, wikis, forums and facebook were used to improve motivation and participation of students. The concept of ‘Informal Learning’ was used where semi-structured teaching is used to teach at school and at home through the use of technologies that students are already familiar with. My research on ‘How can I improve the learning of my pupils in ICT?‘ was shared with the team and was met with warm reception.
Overall it was a wonderful opportunity for educators from around the Middle East to share their experiences and research with other like minded individuals. What was very surprising and a sign of hope, was to see such varied and up-to-date topics but it was also nice to see a hugh participation from the female educator community. On my panel, I was the only male panelist discussing the use of ICT in Education. That was a glimmer of hope I will hold on to till the 10th International Internet Education Conference & Exhibition 2011.
Further discussion, research and possible projects on Game-Based Learning, Informal Learning and Web 2.0 to follow. Watch this space.