Friday, December 17, 2010

Track 1: Researching the Jeddah Floods

Facilitator: Mr. Graham Attwell, Director of Pontydysgu, UK
Assisting Facilitators: Dr. John Smith, Learning Alliances, USA and Ms. Cristina Costa, Research Technologies Development Officer, University of Salford

Boy! By the end of the second day of L&T, I was exhausted even though I haven’t done any of the work! On the other hand, I could see L&T organizers and contributors still bouncing around with utmost commitment to ensure everything and everyone was on track. My exhaustion explains why this blog post is coming in late.

Anyhow, I chose to attend the Track 1 workshop about the Jeddah floods case study; and I’m glad I did. It kicked off with Mr. Graham Attwell’s mind-stimulating questions of the “who, what, why, how, and when” for doing this case study. With the diversity in the group ranging from academicians, city council members, business people, employees, students, and fresh graduates, we had a deluge of thoughts flowing in; and I mean a deluge. After two long hours of discussion for only answering “who are we doing this case study for?,” we realized we had a range of perspectives based on our interests for this case study. As Mr. Graham put it, we certainly had a “rich group with conflicting thoughts.” In fact, looking at the number of narrowed down topics we now had on the flip chart, we were re-considering the case study approach. A research seemed to better fit the bill.

The topics/perspectives covered included:

§  studying how people’s attitudes towards technology have changed,
§  the involvement of the youth in social and community engagement,
§  role of social media in disaster response,
§  diaspora – the role of people outside KSA, and
§  urban planning.

Having done some rigorous brainstorming, we went off for a relaxing lunch break so we could utilize the renewed energy to get our act together.  After the break, we sat down to draw an outline of the topics we agreed to cover in what was now going to be a research on the Jeddah floods. Dr. Smith and Ms. Costa created a wiki, showed the group how to use it, and sent us all invitations so we can engage in continued collaboration in the future to bring this research to realization.

The assignment of responsibilities ensued as participants chose the topics they would like to cover.  A project check-in time was set for the 27th of January for the team to get back together online and discuss progress. As we did all this, Dr. Smith posted a preliminary outline of our research on our wikispace, the resources we currently have in hand, and our roles and agreements. Things were certainly becoming serious and more organized.

As we wrapped up, I could sense the aura of self-fulfillment within team members as they braced themselves to partake in this community service. We came as individuals with diverse goals to the workshop, and we were now leaving as a team with a refined, cohesive set of goals.  

I’m certainly looking forward to seeing the objective of this afternoon’s meeting materialize. It will, inshaAllah, be a product that will educate and raise awareness through educational institutions nationally, if not internationally.

Let’s do this.

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