Can students learn about other cultures without the benefit of traveling to another country? Cabrini College professor Cathy Yungmann writes an interesting article about how she used technology to help her Communications students study the Arab Spring events. By partnering with Catholic Relief Services, Yungmann enabled her students to interact first-hand with students and others in Egypt to aid in their Arab Spring research. Following are excerpts, posted on PBS’ MediaShift:
The project’s biggest challenge was finding a partner in the midst of Middle East revolutions who could provide the link to people willing to talk with college students in Pennsylvania.
Our contacts at Catholic Relief Services agreed to find an English-speaking class in Egypt that could partner with Cabrini students to create content about the historic events happening in Tahrir Square.
While there was a lot of background research for my students to do before beginning to understand the enormity of the Arab Spring, the true learning excitement took place during Skype interviews with students and professionals in Cairo and Lebanon. My American students were quite moved by the personal life stories that their Egyptian peers shared during individual video Skype sessions. Due to the time difference with the Middle East, the interviews were often recorded during the middle of our night.
Cabrini students also contacted Egyptian student journalists who were very open to sharing information and viewpoints. In addition, Cabrini students became Twitter followers of professional journalists who were covering the Tahrir Square events. Several journalists agreed to record Skype interviews and gave us permission to use their photos. At the same time, Cabrini students were interviewing American professors and refugees from the Middle East to gain other perspectives.
In the end, our students compiled about 20 videos, many text articles, infographics and photo galleries into a website called Arab Awakening: A View From The Inside. The site received the 2012 Pinnacle Award for Best Multimedia Feature Presentation from the College Media Association, a group affiliated with and supporting more than 800 colleges and universities with student media. Last summer, I converted the website into a free e-book which is available for the iPad.