Communication Challenges in Higher Ed
In our new bulletin, Al-Fanar Media brings you our most prominent stories and news on higher education in the Arab world.
In October and November, I shared with you my thoughts about communication problems and challenges in higher education, in addition to some solutions and an overview of Al-Fanar Media’s roles to address this issue.
On February 6, I presented a webinar and panel discussion titled “Communication in Higher Education: Problems and Solutions.” The webinar was part of the fourth edition of the Arab Forum of Science Media and Communication, held on February 5 and 6, in cooperation with the University of Sharjah.
Communication, as I said in the webinar, is a cornerstone to help the media and higher education institutions play their roles to inform and help the public make sound decisions regarding their professional and academic lives.
More details can be found in today’s bulletin.
Al-Fanar Media editor-in-chief
From the Region:
Israel Commits ‘Educide’ in Gaza, Says Palestine’s Ambassador to U.K.;
Speaking at University College London, Palestine’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Hossam Zomlot, described the impact of the Israeli occupation’s aggression on Palestinian universities and higher education as “educide”. A video on Facebook shows excerpts of Zomlot’s remarks, which were also reported by Jordan’s Roya News English.
Annihilation of the education sector is a major part of Israel’s ongoing warfare against Palestinians in Gaza, Zomlot said. He added that the occupation army had damaged or destroyed all universities in the Gaza Strip, as well as hundreds of schools, libraries and publishing houses, while also systematically targeting scholars and students.
The destruction of educational institutions is not only an attack on infrastructure but also a deliberate assault on the lifeblood of Palestinian society, he said. “They know, Israel does know that education is the lifeblood of any society, let alone the Palestinian society. It is our lifeblood. It is our lifeline.”
KAUST Event Explores Role of AI in Development of Smart Cities
On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) opened its 2024 Winter Enrichment Programme under the slogan “Digital Adventure: The Ride to the Future”, with a focus on the central role of machine learning and artificial intelligence in the development of smart cities, smart health, quantum computing, virtual reality, the metaverse, and more. According to the university, the event featured presentations by leading thinkers on the radical changes coming to societies and individuals as a result of these revolutionary technologies.
In a keynote speech, Carlos Ratti, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and director of the MIT Senseable City Lab, said the design of smart cities could benefit from studies of mobility. He described a study at MIT that analysed nine years’ worth of anonymously collected mobile phone data and concluded that human brains are not programmed to find the shortest path between two destinations but instead rely on another strategy.
3 Universities in Emirates Host Conference on Teaching and Learning Practices
In a collaborative venture, three universities in the United Arab Emirates—the American University of Sharjah, Abu Dhabi’s Khalifa University, and Amity University Dubai—held their Second Annual Conference on Best Practices in Teaching and Learning this week. Each university hosted one day of activities in the three-day event.
The conference opened on February 5 at the American University of Sharjah. In a news release, the university said the conference gathered over 150 university instructors, higher education researchers, graduate students, and consultants to participate in sessions designed to foster engagement with the latest educational trends and innovations.
Day 1 included two keynote speeches and four featured speeches on educational innovation, interactive workshops, poster presentations, and 10 “ignite” sessions designed to spark conversations. Other days of the conference were devoted to STEM education and active learning.
IT Authority in Egypt to Support Technology Students’ Graduation Projects
Egypt’s Information Technology Industry Development Authority (ITIDA) is accepting applications for an annual project that supports Egyptian university students’ graduation projects in technology fields. The project targets final-year students in the disciplines of engineering, computer science and information systems. Students have until February 29 to submit their applications.
Ahram Online reported that the authority will provide funding of up to 30,000 Egyptian pounds for each project, to support and encourage students, contribute to spreading the culture of innovation and entrepreneurship among university students, and build an innovative knowledge economy. The project is part of a programme that encourages cooperation between companies, universities, and research centers by linking scientific research to the needs of the labour market.
‘Digital Double Bind’: Book Explores Digital and Social Change in Middle East
Mohamed Zayani, a professor of critical theory at Georgetown University in Qatar, and Joe F. Khalil, an associate professor in residence at Northwestern University in Qatar, have published a new book titled “The Digital Double Bind: Change and Stasis in the Middle East”.
“Momentous changes in information and communication technologies” are driving development and social change worldwide, “but each region experiences this transformation differently”, Zayani said in a statement released Georgetown University in Qatar. “We wanted to understand how the digital is playing out in the Middle East and how the region is responding.”
The book was published in January by Oxford University Press. The university described it as a landmark study that moves “beyond familiar accounts of the uniform trajectory of the network society” and “provides a roadmap for a critical engagement with the peculiarities of digitality in the Global South.”
From Al-Fanar Media:
Artificial intelligence will not beat human creativity, Hala Zayed, a professor in the Faculty of Engineering at Egypt University of Informatics, told a forum this week during the Cairo International Book Fair. “Despite the growing concerns about the impact of AI, it will not overcome humans in terms of creative abilities in their true sense in many fields, including the literature and knowledge industries,” Zayed said.
Zayed spoke during a session of a Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Knowledge Industry, which Egypt University for Informatics (EUI) organised as a component of the book fair. The conference, held on February 3, explored how developments in artificial intelligence were affecting publishing, creativity and translation. Reem Bahgat, the university’s acting president, said that the forum aimed to discuss ways to keep pace with modern technologies and attempt to benefit from AI in literature, culture, and knowledge. Read more in this article.
Tips and Resources:
There are good reasons for the surge of interest among Arab university students in artificial intelligence (AI) studies. Experts note the increasing importance of AI technologies in many fields, and an increased demand for AI graduates in the labour market. Al-Fanar Media offers a brief guide to the many academic disciplines involved in AI studies and the careers available to graduates in this rapidly expanding field. Read more in this article.
In this essay, Rana Dajani, a molecular cell biologist at the Hashemite University, in Jordan, shares lessons and recommendations from her personal experience of how scientists can create successful research teams to study some of the complex issues confronting the world today. She stresses the importance of recruiting a diverse team that includes people of different disciplines, perspectives, and cultures. And she strongly recommends that the team include scientists who are from the region where the study will be conducted, because incorporating their expertise is very important to doing better science. Read more in this article.
Al-Fanar Media Activities:
Mohammad El-Hawary, Al-Fanar Media’s editor-in-chief, took part in the fourth edition of the Arab Forum of Science Media and Communication, held on February 5 and 6 under the motto: “From Research to Engagement: Advancing Communication.” In an online session, El-Hawary talked about Al-Fanar Media’s experience in covering news of higher education and research in the Arab world. The theme of his talk was “Communication in Higher Education: Problems and Solutions.” Read more in this story.
Al-Fanar Media Podcast posts a new episode every Sunday in which our correspondents across the Arab world tackle various issues of higher education. In one recent episode, we suggest a number of websites where new university students can find resources to help them adjust to and thrive in their new academic setting. You can listen to this episode, and others in the series, on SoundCloud, Spotify, or YouTube.
Al-Fanar Media maintains a database of quality scholarships available to Arab students, which we continuously update. To stay up to date on the latest scholarships available in international universities, check the Scholarships section here, and watch for updated feedback on free learning opportunities in our News and Reports section, here.