Just as learning a new script and constructing new words can demolish boundaries between the familiar and unfamiliar in language studies, digital technology is endowing classrooms, such as that of professor Bouchaib Gadir’s Arabic Media class at Tulane University, to transcend physical boundaries in the hope of giving students a more personalized and less filtered perspective into the places they study.
Students in Arabic Media dialogue with Morocco-based journalist Aida Alami in a video conference. (Photo by Paul Burch-Celentano)
On April 10, students in Arabic Media were afforded such an opportunity when Morocco-based journalist Aida Alami digitally attended their class session via Skype, giving students a chance to hear about her background and work, as well as pose to her questions about Moroccan life and political dynamics.
The scope of the conversation spanned the pursuit of renewable energy to the role of Islam, touching on both the parallels and contrasts between other the Arab revolutions and a series of Moroccan demonstrations that prompted and were ultimately muted by the king’s rapid response.
This was the second in a series of three such conversations between the Arabic Media class and journalists or newsmakers in the Arab world. The first was with Cairo-based journalist Kristen McTighe and a planned third will be with Stephanie Brancaforte, who has worked heavily with nongovernmental organizations to bring aid to Syrian refugees.
Gadir, a professor of practice in the Department of French and Italian
with degrees in Francophone studies as well as Arabic language and literature, says he plans to continue incorporating technology into his lessons, both in this class and in the fall 2013 pilot Arabic Literature course.
“I think any unconventional method of learning,” says Gadir, “will motivate students to study and provide an opportunity for them to become life learners of the Arabic language and culture.”
Cody Wild is a Tulane junior majoring in economics and Middle Eastern studies.