Education, Podcast, Professional Development, Travel, Tunisia

Tunisian NGOs and Resources

It is well past my bed time here in Tunisia, but I wanted to put together a list with the links to the organizations that we have interacted with or have been mentioned as part of the international faculty development seminar in which I am participating. The title of the seminar is: “The New Tunisia: Migration and Democratic Consolidation.” Over the last three days, we have talked to several experts on the topic and we have visited several NGOs. Below I am sharing the links to the organizations  and also other resources mentioned during the seminar. I will update this blog post at the end of the seminar in case there are other links or additional resources.

NGOs

  • EuroMed Rights – Tunisia
    • The focal point of this NGO is the rights (social and economic) of migrants and refugees in Tunisia.
  • Terre d’Asile Tunisia
    • The focus of this NGO is to provide guidance and support to non-Tunisian migrants.
  • AMAL
    • The focus of this NGO is to empower Tunisian mothers by providing accommodation, legal advice and vocational training to unmarried mothers [News Article]

Resources

  • Maghrib Past and Present Podcast
    • This podcast is a forum in which artists, writers, and scholars from North Africa, the United States, and beyond can present their ongoing and innovative research on and cultural activities in the Maghrib. The podcasts are recorded at research centers, universities, and cultural venues across the Maghrib (Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya and Mauritania).

Music

This section on music is an addition to the blog post. One of my colleagues in the program mentioned the song “A night in Tunisia” and the album “African Cookbook” to me. Both are great pieces of Jazz. Although they are not from Tunisia, I thought it would be good to share them in the blog.

Academia, Education, Educational Technology, Higher Education, Instructional Design, life, Professional Development, Research, scholarship, Self-care, Teaching

In honor of International Women’s Day: “Undisclosed stories of instructional design female scholars in academia”

It is International Women’s Day and I would like to re-share a journal article that I co-authored with other Instructional Design Female Scholars: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0277539518302231

In addition to sharing a link to the article, I am also sharing a short excerpt from the discussion section of the manuscript (which complies with the copyrights set by the publisher). If you would like to get a copy of the full article, I will gladly share it via email.

IMG_7424

Significance of this Research

Why are these issues that we present through our stories of significance to the ID field? Because we teach, practice, and research this field. We aim to present our field as a process-based, relational, inclusive, equitable, and transformative community.  Yet, instructional design practices, research, and teaching are heavily influenced by the male dominance that permeates higher education institutions. We attempt with this paper to raise awareness, seek understanding, and open the doors for discussion of women’s issues in higher education and the instructional design field.  In the past, “feminist approaches to design have problematized a range of taken-for-granted assumptions (Campbell, 2014, pg. 233).” These assumptions continue to marginalize and oppress through our practice. It is a trickle down effect: if some voices being part of the IDT community are ignored, oppressed, and marginalized , how can we expect the outcome of our design, research and teaching experiences to be inclusive, equitable, and transformative? In the global economy, we talk about reaching out to diverse groups of learners. If those diverse groups can be represented in the decision making mechanisms, then, it might be easier to develop empathic relationship with the diversity, we strive to address.

As an attempt to challenge the hegemony of patriarchy in academia, this paper explores gender-related challenges and issues female scholars experience in their lives. The male dominance in academia and socio-cultural roles assigned to females create conflicting roles. As female academics are assigned with a range of social, cultural, and professional responsibilities in a male-dominant context, it is essential that they are provided with support (Misra, Crist, & Burant, 2003). Changing this mental frame is not easy since it is legitimized and encouraged by power dynamics. As a socially-accepted and culturally-valued role, females are supposed to take care of domestic responsibilities first. The role of parenthood and marriage once combined with the gendered and biased institutionalized norms conflicts with the role of a scholar (Acker, 1992). As a potential strategy to solve this problem, it is essential to recognize gender as a social construct that is shaped by the patriarchy to designate social and cultural roles to women as a tool for suppression and marginalization (Acker, 1992); thereby, allowing us to perpetuate these inequalities that we have been trying to overcome (Valian, 1998).

To make matter worse, the lack of collaboration among the female academics aggravates the practical impacts of these anomalies. Women’s issues are an important part of the female academic identities that are embodied and situated in a social and cultural discourse dictated by the dominant socio-political forces through the gender, power, and context sensitive knowledge creation process (Nightingale, 2003). It is vital for female academics to have an open forum in which they can share their experiences and insights on women’s issues, and triangulate the silences and incompatibilities across the settings. It is important to raise skepticism concerning the neutrality of the knowledge creation through the practice of normal science, and uncover the silenced and empowered voices by the hegemonic forces situated in a social context (Vaivio & Sirén, 2010).

 

Academia, Education, Higher Education, life, scholarship, Teaching

When a Scholar Dies

Several weeks ago I was lurking around Twitter and came across tweets that mentioned a scholar. Someone had created a hashtag and asked others to share their memories related to this scholar (and to include the hashtag in the tweets). I was curious to know who this person was and why people in Twitter were sharing these stories. I quickly learned that the name of the scholar was Dr. Erik Olin Wright. After following a few twitter threads, I found out that he was very ill and the tweets from others were a way to honor what he had done as a scholar, advisor, and as a person. In the mist of the different Twitter posts, I came across a link to his online journal (https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/erikolinwright/journal). In it, Dr. Wright was documenting his illness  and life after his cancer diagnosis. The very first post that I read, in his journal, was titled “Strange State of Existence” posted on Jan 5th in which he discussed having three weeks to live. This is a portion of Dr. Wright’s post on Jan 5th:

Screenshot 2019-02-02 21.44.59After reading his initial post, I continued to silently follow his journey. Every couple of days, I would click on the link and read his new entries. One of the most emotional and wonderful parts of the journal were the comments left by hundred of individuals who had been touched by Dr. Wright in one way or another. This is just one of hundreds of comments shared in his journal:

Screenshot 2019-02-02 21.53.37

If you did not clicked on the link to the online journal, I am sad to share that Dr. Wright passed away on Jan. 23. Reading his journal and the comments made by others has made me reflect tremendously.

  • The reality that we have a limited time in this planet.
  • The reality that as scholars the impact of our work goes far beyond metrics that are often used to rank, classify us, or give us “status.”
  • The beauty of Dr. Wright’s thoughts and humanness in his journal, as well as, the comments by others reminded me that there are still individuals who are genuine, sincere, and candid.

I hope that others find his online journal and continue to read it.

 

Academia, Education, Higher Education, Job, Professional Development, Self-care

Failure

I really enjoy celebrating accomplishments but I also like normalizing failure. We do not always achieve what we want or it make take several tries before we accomplish a goal. If we are mentally prepared to understand that failure is a possibility, we are more likely to build strength to pick up the pieces and try again. So here are some things that I have failed at in the past, yet they did not stop me from continuing to pursue what I wanted to accomplish in the long run.

When I graduated high school, I decided to study computer systems engineering. That did not go too well! At that time (and still today), I was a social butterfly. College was a great place to hangout with my friends. Becoming an engineer was not really a priority. After the three semesters studying engineering and failing many courses, I decided that it was best to throw in the towel. I took a year off from college level courses to work and save to pay for my education. I eventually when back to college and started with an associates degree in Computer Programming which I completed with honors. I went on to successfully complete an undergraduate, master, and doctoral degree.

Another moment of failure in my life was when I applied to doctoral degrees. You see, I was determined to move back to Canada and in particular to Montreal. I had fallen in love with the educational technology program at Concordia University. After spending 5 full years studying in Emporia (Kansas), I was ready to complete my application, get accepted, and start a new chapter of my life as a doctoral student at Concordia University. That did not happened! I applied to three universities: Concordia University, Boston University, and Old Dominion University. A few days after doing my doctoral interview (a phone interview with all faculty members of the educational technology program), I received a letter from Concordia University letting me know that I was not accepted. I cried so much!

However, I was accepted to Boston University (with a graduate assistantship but no tuition reimbursement) and to Old Dominion University (with a graduate assistantship with full tuition reimbursement). Eventually, I decided to attend Old Dominion University and that let to so many wonderful opportunities that have shaped my personal life and career. I decided that although I was not at my number one choice, I was still going to earn a doctoral degree and make the most out of it!

Of course, there are many instances of failure in every day life: the article that gets rejected, the class activity that does not go as planned, the award that I do not get, etc.

Why am I sharing this? In academic circles, it gets really competitive. Heck, in life people get really competitive. We start looking at what others are doing and assuming that everyone is “doing things,” “going places,” and basically just “living the dream.” But the reality is that we are all working towards our goals and we all have moments of failures. That is just life.

Academia, Education, Higher Education, Job, Teaching

Let’s talk about complicated pregnancies #academicmamas

Had my yearly Pap Smear today and it served as a reminder of post that has been in draft folder for too long [it is also Spring Break so I get to catch up on a few things that I normally tend to put of for later]. Let’s talk about complicated pregnancies.

We often think that pregnancy is this magical time in a women’s life in which they can eat whatever they want, glow, and crochet something for their bundle of joy. Well, at least, that is what I thought pregnancy was until I experienced it.

The reality is that for me pregnancy was the worry of knowing how my baby was developing, heartburn, and sleepless nights. But I was fine with that because “it is all just part of the process.” It was until I was 22 weeks pregnant that things got “complicated.”

During a routine visit to the doctor (the first week of classes of that term) the ultrasound technician noticed that I was experiencing an “incompetent cervix.” Everything went from calm to faces of worry and the doctor rushing into the ultrasound room. I was asked to go the emergency room in the hospital and told that they were extremely worry that I would deliver early.

I was so confused by everything that was happening but without thinking about it, my husband and I drove to the hospital and expressed what the gynecologist had just explained. I was immediately checked into the emergency room at the hospital. The doctor in the emergency room explained what an “incompetent cervix” meant. Basically means that I have a “weak” cervix tissue.” What followed was just a mess:

  1. Taught class for one week that semester [Fall 2015]
  2. Then rushed back to the emergency room (and FMLA for the remainder of the term)
  3. Was told by the doctor to consider having an abortion (early delivery would mean having a baby that would not survive or would have severe brain damage)
  4.  Was told by another doctor to consider having a cerclage procedure done to prologue the pregnancy as long as possible (although he clarified the success rate for a 50/50 chance)
  5. Decided to do the cerclage and wait to see what happened.
  6. Orders of bed rest until delivery date
  7. Three long months of at home bed rest

Why did I continued my complicated pregnancy? Because I honestly could not terminate my pregnancy after watching my healthy baby boy in an ultrasound.

What is was like to do three months of bed rest? For me, it was torture. I honestly channel my energy into doing things that I enjoyed (writing, reading, researching, or anything I could do from bed/couch).

This is is really a summarized version of everything that happened. All the emotions that I experienced during those months, would be really difficult to capture in a post. I was very private about all of this, when it happened, because if things did not work out in a positive way, I did not want to mourn my loss publicly. It would have been too difficult. However, I did have many reach out to me privately and I would share what I was going through (I guess my lack of FB and Twitter post was noticed). I had many friends and family check in with me regularly (almost daily). Thank You. I also a had a dear friend that lives in the area have lunch with weekly through the three months of bed rest (thank you JoAnne Scott).

I am not writing this post because I want a pity party. I am writing and sharing it with you because pregnancies don’t always go as planned, which is even more reason to have have adequate institutional policies for pregnant women and partners. I would have never predicted my health issue (not even in my wildest dreams). Since this happened to me I’ve known at least two other women who had similar experiences, including another faculty member at my institution.

I also want to add that my story had a complicated but happy ending but not all stories end the same way. I want to share with the emotional story written by Ilde Torres Walter in her blog (it is a journey of love): http://www.journeytoliam.com/2017/01/09/hello-world/  [you should make time to read her five blog posts].

Academia, AECT, Conference, Education, Educational Technology, Higher Education, Instructional Design, Job, Professional Development, Research, scholarship, Seminar, Teaching, Travel, Writing

Instructional Design Research Women’s Caucus #AECT17

Please consider joining us during this Research and Theory Division panel session at the AECT 2017 International Convention:

Women Caucus
Lead Discussant:
Enilda Romero-Hall
University of Tampa

Discussants:
Zeni Colorado-Reza
Emporia State University

Ginger Watson
University of Virginia

Camille Dickson-Deane
University of Melbourne

Ayesha Sadaf
University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Tugce Aldemir
Pennsylvania State University

See you in Jacksonville. Hope you can join us!

Academia, Higher Education

My Personal Learning Network #EME605

Last night in our last Adobe Connect session, a team of students was presenting a webinar. One of the topic covered in the presentation was Personal Learning Networks (PLN). The team had a very nice activity in which the audience was asked to develop their own Personal Learning Network using a concept mapping tool (https://www.text2mindmap.com/ — available online free). As the instructor, I always like to participate in the activities that the presenters have for their audience so I created a concept map of my PLN. I realized after I created it that I learn, on a dialy basis, from so many different groups of people including: colleagues (that I know personally and some that I just know via social media), students, family, published content (paper and online), informal conversations, informal published content (online) and many other sources. Below is an image of my PLN:

Romero-Hall PLN