Sunday, September 16, 2007

IUCN 2007: "New Learning for Sustainability in the Arab Region"

I was invited to present at the IUCN unevent held in Alexandria, Egypt, on August 31-Spetember 1, 2007 was one of the most exciting, learning experience. The atmosphere inside the main room was friendly, and a real blend of formal and informal interactions. The organizers actually did a wonderful job integrating interesting new learning and facilitating techniques to have people, the presenters and audience, get closer and think together during discussions after or before a presentation. I really liked the Carousel discussion technique that was used during the closing session; it encouraged everyone to get involved, contributing ideas, getting inspired, and learning, together. This was my first time to participate in this kind of activity which I hope to use in future projects.

Moreover, I was happy to meet people from the Arab world and to exchange ideas about what can be done to help improve our region. I was thrilled to see how a number of them were so enthusiastic and determined to start trying to implement some of the new ideas once they return to their countries.

Furthermore, I was also glad that I had the chance to hold an interesting conversation during lunch breaks with the translator of this conference, a professor of Translation at the University of Alexandria, who did the translation from English to Arabic. Actually, I was curious to learn what Arabic words she used to express some technical terms and names, such as Web 2.0, blogs, and wikis that were mentioned in some presentations. I know that the Arabic word for a blog is "modawina", but it was interesting to find her preferred to use such names or terms in Arabic as they were said in English, which made sense to me since these technical names or terms don't exist in Arabic, anyway!

Vance gave an interesting useful presentation, as always amazing the audience when he talked about tagging and then announced the conference tag, IUCNALEX. And, I talked about Blending Formal & Informal Learning Using New Technologies in the Workplace; here is the slideshow.
After each session, speakers were requested to go to breakout rooms where participants had the chance to visit each room to ask questions or comment. In my room, I was joined by participants interested in informal learning and the discussions were focused on ways to integrate informal learning in the workplace, in particular.

On day 2, Vance ran the Unworkop successfully, impressing people, despite of the technical difficulties, he has already reported to you about. The unexpected part, for me at least, was that the participants were so interested in SL; and the funniest comment heard during the discussion that followed the workshop came from an Egyptian participant who said that "SecondLife should be called SecondWife" in an indication to the time one could spend at SL. They also liked Elluminate and asked many questions, including license and pricing!

This IUCN 3-day Workshop was an eyes wide open experience for me. It helped me improve my plans for my classes for this semester of Fall 2007, which starts here on, Monday, Sept. 17, 2007; and made me feel optimistic about things people can do virtually together in terms of education, learning, teaching and facilitating, in order to make it a better world for all.

Finally, here are some more photos tagged with IUCNALEX or iucn2007