Takeaways from VConnecting Sesh at OLC Innovate 2017

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I recently took part in a session at the OLC Innovate 2017:Education Reimagined Conference.  The virtual participation format was impressive and glitch-free.

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Questions were raised by the global participants and were answered by on-site participants Michael Berman, Lora Taub-Pervizpour, and Patrice Prusko. This particular session was masterfully co-moderated by Wendy Taleo, our Virtual Buddy, in Australia and by Michael Berman, our on-site buddy in NOLA.

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Snippets from the session itself which referenced the Solution Design Summit (SDS) event at OLC Innovate :

  • How are students experiencing courses that we are designing?
  • Food truck imagery was used metaphorically by students to describe just-in-time training/learning experiences during the SDS.
  • There was only one team from community colleges; looking forward to further collaborations in future projects/discussions.
  • There is a need for increased participation from community colleges at future summits and projects.
  • What challenges do community college-going students face that may limit/hamper/alter their ability to participate in off-campus summits and conferences?
  • The next OLC Innovate Conference should include a fully virtual team.
  • There should be a set program for virtual participants.

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There was much more that was discussed, as it was a remarkably lively conversation, but for that to be shared I would have to decipher my scribbled notes. 😀
Being able to participate in conversations that matter, conversations that have the potential to solve key challenges in Education  while being half-way across the world was a liberating experience.  This virtual session gave us all the opportunity to break out our respective silos and engage in meaningful dialogue about the Future of Education.  A big shout-out to everyone in the session:  Lora, Patrice, Wendy T, Michael, Wendy F, Apostolos, Yin-Wah and Mark ! 

Digital Security Training: Privacy + Social Media Workshop @ ShirkatGah, Lahore

20150606_113836-COLLAGEThis past weekend I had the privilege of being invited by my good friend Nabiha to present on Privacy & Social Media at the Digital Security Training session. The workshop took place at Shirkat Gah’s library, another one of my favourite places to hang out in Lahore.  (Libraries in general are at top of my list. But I digress.)

Yes! Back to the workshop!

It was a cozy, chatty atmosphere with lots of questions and hands-on training, both for my topic as well as the one on encryption. I really enjoyed talking about the fast evolution of social media accounts and how ethics strongly figures into our behaviours, on-line and off-line. I purposefully include a section on cyber-bullying and other negative online social interactions- as always there was an engaging discussion about the cause and effects of trolling on the digital native.  I have put the slides up on Slideshare, check’m out.

Ghausia from BoloBhi walked us through the amusing, awe-inspiring and definitely paranoia-inducing world of online privacy. I will get into the excellent points she raised and share why I know believe we should ALL be using encryption in the upcoming podcast.

Selecting the Perfect University: Online Virtual Tours or Education Expos? (The University Bazaar Blog Series)

Selecting the Perfect University

Does selecting a university ever get easier? I remember being overwhelmed by all the decisions to make when the process began.  Where can I find a scholarship? How far away from home do I want to go? Can I afford this university? I can afford this one, but what to do if it does not have the degree program I want?

So.Many.Questions.

I have just made it back from The News Education Expo in Lahore and have more than a couple of observations to share. The crowds, mostly teenagers and twenty-somethings with their families, were busy browsing the stalls for the Perfect University. Theoretically, this sounds like a straight-forward affair; you walk up to the university representative, get all your questions answered and receive a complimentary pen, as well.

In reality, it was absolute chaos in the basement of Pearl Continental (PC) Hotel. If you haven’t been to the PC Hotel, the basement consists of a series of banquet halls opening into a narrow main hall.  Various universities and colleges had set up shop throughout and were closely packed together; differentiating between the representatives became a chore!  Trying to start a conversation or ask a question was challenging as the overworked representatives tried their hardest to answer serious queries from the impatient crowd.

What I witnessed today is a University Bazaar where competing educational institutions hawk degrees and dreams to uninformed students and their loved ones. There is little to be gained but a handful of shiny brochures.

Q. Is there any value in attending such Educational Expos? 

A.  Only if you know what kind of educational experience you are shopping for and are prepared to be patient. 

The truth is that these events are nothing more than easy revenue-makers for the organisers.  Once the stalls are booked, little else is taken care of; this is evident by the sloppy arrangements and the criss-cross of exposed wiring over the carpets.  Not only do the students suffer from the poor organisation,but so do the educational institutions who regularly spend their marketing budgets on them.

Online Virtual Tours or Education Expos?

So, if we strike off education expos from our list when searching for the perfect university, what is the next best option?

With social media platforms getting easier to navigate by the day, it makes sense to turn to the internet when conducting any kind of serious research. I would strongly suggest opting for online virtual tours of the universities and colleges you are considering at the moment.

Pre-recorded tours, complete with audio, guide website visitors through the campus; this is extremely important when the colleges you are considering are in far-off locations, like the United States or  the United Kingdom.   Rather than chatting it up with a disinterested staff member at an overcrowded expo, try your hand at a informational webinar. These web-based seminars allow prospective students from across the globe to log-on and take part in question-and-answer sessions with the university’s administration and admissions team – for free! What better way to understand the culture but by having a conversation?

Take my word – set aside some time for an old-fashioned Google search and a list of questions. You are bound to narrow down the options to find your Perfect University, with the help of simple technology at your fingertips! 

This is the first post in the The University Bazaar Blog Series by Catalyst Woman.

Chocolate-flavored Lipsticks + Speaking from Your Gut: The Teacher Debt

To this day flavored  lip-balms make me smile; its as-if it’s the 90’s all over again and I’m sitting in the front row of Communications class.  All we could see of Ms. Stewart was her fiery-red hair as she dug deep into her purse, rummaging around for… a lipstick?!   Continue reading “Chocolate-flavored Lipsticks + Speaking from Your Gut: The Teacher Debt”

Distance Learning more disruptive for Higher-Ed

Online learning isn’t disruptive for K-12 public education, Christensen explains, because “our educational system isn’t good enough to be disrupted technologically in that way.” Distance learning is more clearly a disruptive force in higher education, where the quality of the product is good enough, and expensive enough, to enable online innovators to offer a more convenient option at a much lower price point.

Disruptive Genius: Innovation guru Clayton Christensen, Harvard Magazine

Pakistani Women Making Their Mark in Tech

“Everybody sees the guy with the hoodie,” she said. “I don’t believe you have to be an engineer or a computer programmer to be a woman in tech.” – Shaan Kandawalla, Digital Edu- Tech Entrpreneur

Bringing Lessons From a Pool in Pakistan to a Pitch Meeting With Investors

An inspirational story of a Pakistani digital-friendly professional who took never took “no’ for an answer, Shaan Kandawalla.