All posts by khaledfawal

Soaring through the air
Wings spread and Heavens above
Freedom eternal.

-Khaled Fawal

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technology in the classroom

By Khaled Fawal

The glaring depletion of resources, the rise of oil prices on a global scale and the pressing need to address rapid climate change have suddenly made sustainability the central dilemma of our generation. Of course, scientific institutions are constantly introducing innovations that provide various solutions, but, as ordinary citizens, we too have the ability to make a difference. Indeed, at Vanier College, there are a great number of modifications to the traditional system that can bring about positive change, and the paperless classroom appears to be a convenient alternative now more than ever. This essay will elaborate on student response to a virtual classroom, on its various environmental benefits, and on its educational advantages as well.

First, the virtual classroom has been generally well-received by the majority of students. Indeed, a research study at the University of Texas was conducted to evaluate student satisfaction with the paperless classroom, and the results were overwhelming. According to the study, 90% of participating students were encouraged by the prospect of integrating online assignment submission, since it made work management much easier. In the end, the same number of students preferred the paperless classroom to the conventional system most educational institutions abide by. Also, most students at Vanier College are already very familiar with electronic devices, since the majority of them have grown in an environment monopolized by technology. These favorable circumstances would obviously make the integration of downloadable course materials on their tablets and electronic devices a lot more straightforward. A study at Pepperdine University underlined the benefits of electronic devices in academic environments. Indeed, the iPad tablet served as an e-reader providing digital course materials, and the results were, again, astounding. Most students were not distracted by the other capabilities of the iPad, while also citing its portability as an added incentive to using it more often. The introduction of paperless classrooms has been universally acclaimed by students, and it would undoubtedly have a positive impact here at Vanier College as well.

Second, the incorporation of technology in the classroom would evidently help improve the school’s ecological footprint. With e-readers gaining popularity by the second, the book industry has seen an incredible reduction in their in-office printing. Therefore, there is also a noticeable reduction in the amount of trees being brought down for the purpose of producing books. Indeed, according to a study by Procedia, a report released by Green Press Initiative suggests that the production of textbooks requires around 200,000 tons of paper. In order to produce such a vast amount of paper, approximately 4 million trees are forced to hit the ground. In the end, the making of textbooks is responsible for around 20% of the total paper intended for the book publishing sector. Of course, there is no denying the necessity of trees. Those majestic blessings of nature provide us with oxygen, while also creating a peaceful, aesthetically pleasing environment. Their presence is vital to human life and wildlife as well. If the e-book alternative would be adopted by the great majority, a significant amount of trees would be preserved, and the diffusion of information would successfully maintain its climb.

Third, virtual classrooms are also important components for the development of education. As mentioned before, the world we live in today is dictated by technology. Indeed, the modernity that surrounds us defines the era we live in, and paperless classrooms will prepare students for the technology-driven workplace of tomorrow. According to The Education Arcade, “there’s a sharp disconnect between the way students are taught in school and the way the outside world approaches socialization, meaning-making, and accomplishment.” While the main purpose of our educational institutions is to teach, it is also crucial for such institutions to implement methods that facilitate the integration of students into society. In other words, they must make the merging of these two worlds as seamless and consistent as possible.  Furthermore, technology in the classroom would create a more dynamic learning environment for students. Again, according to the study by The Education Arcade, many teachers that embrace the potential of emerging technologies have noticed that chairs are filled more frequently than not. The reason is quite simple: students dedicate much more attention to lessons when multimedia education is involved. They understand the concepts better, and show a lot more interest towards the addressed subjects. Imagine Vanier College students walking through class doors with excitement every day. The introduction of these emerging technologies would only benefit the learning process, while also creating a more pleasant environment for both students and teachers alike.

In conclusion, the integration of the paperless classroom would undoubtedly be lauded by students, it would help improve the college’s ecological footprint, and it would facilitate student productivity in the classroom. In the end, Vanier College is a place that can only gain from these powerful emerging technologies.

 

WORKS CITED:

Embong, A. M., Noor, A. M., Hashim, H. M., Ali, R. M., & Shaari, Z. H. E-Books as Textbooks in the Classroom. 2012.

Arney Janna, Jones Irma & Wolf Angela. “Going green: paperless technology and feedback from the classroom”. Journal of Sustainability and Green Business. ND.

Cameron, Andrea H.; Bush, Michael H., Ed.D.  Pepperdine University, 2011. Digital course materials: A case study of the Apple iPad in the academic environment

Groff Jennifer, Haas Jason, Klopfer Eric, & Osterweil Scot. “Using the technology of today, in the classroom today”. The Education Arcade. 2009.

Annotated Bibliography

Arney Janna, Jones Irma & Wolf Angela. “Going green: paperless technology and feedback from the classroom”. Journal of Sustainability and Green Business. ND. This research conducted at the University of Texas at Brownsville focuses on student satisfaction with the paperless classroom. It also highlights the economic benefits of technology in the classroom. (KF)

Brian Handwerk, National Geographic News, 2013. iPads Improve Classroom Learning, Study Finds. The writer of this article was just describing the findings of a study. The study found that ipad use can be just as good for learning as older methods, and can actually help students grasp scientific concepts that can be aided with 3D imagery the ipad provides. (SD)

Cameron, Andrea H.; Bush, Michael H., Ed.D.  Pepperdine University, 2011. Digital course materials: A case study of the Apple iPad in the academic environment. This study found as its main point that most students found ipads and the use of electronic devices in the classroom to be helpful to them. Many teachers agreed they were helpful as well. (SD)

Groff Jennifer, Haas Jason, Klopfer Eric, & Osterweil Scot. “Using the technology of today, in the classroom today”. The Education Arcade. 2009. This article underlines the numerous possibilities technology can bring to the classroom environment. It also explains how electronic devices can improve the learning experience of students, and also simplify the life of teachers. (KF)

Moran, Nick. Are eReaders Really Green? MM The Millions Magazine. May 2012.

An interesting magazine that talks about the carbon footprint of books and eBooks. It is a short article that looks at how eBooks are more sustainable for the environment. In depth, Moran compares the carbon released of eBooks and books. The article is interesting because the author presents different amount of carbon footprint produce in books and eBooks. It shows the quantity of carbon produce during the production and in the course of time. The readers can see a clear difference on which is better for the environment base on the precise numbers that the author presents. The author concentrates on the carbon footprint. However, it also looks at the production and the transportation of eBooks and books. The articles show relevant evidence and clear explanations on how people should switch to eBooks. (MR)

Ritch, Emma. The Environmental Impact of Amazon’s Kindle: Cleantech Group LLC. California: Amazon, 2009.

Emma Ritch examines the impact of electronic devices on the environment. Couple of arguments are brought up from the author about the production of books. The author presents graphics and numbers that ease the comprehension of the article. Numbers has shown that the carbon produced in a single digital book was higher than a single book. Although, she argues that books can have a bigger impact over the course of a year production. Nevertheless, this article presents more information about eBooks. What makes it interesting is that she looks at the reality of things. She says that eBooks and book are bad for the environment in any situation. However, she brings out reason how digital books can have a better impact on the environment. (MR)

My Relationship With Nature

By Khaled Fawal

There is an essential relationship between man and land, one that maintains the equilibrium in nature. The turn of the millennium is now not only defined by the emergence of technology, but by the millions of people around the world fighting for our planet’s sustainability as well. Our ongoing pursuit of industrial excellence has resulted in the dangerous depletion of Earth’s natural resources. My family and I have always been avid supporters of this movement, especially when it comes to food. However, like most people, some of our daily practices also have a negative impact on the environment. This essay will elaborate on how my family contributes to the planet’s sustainability through a local community garden, and how our frequent visits to fast food restaurants do the complete opposite.

For almost a decade, my mother has been a passionate gardener, mainly due to the environmental and emotional benefits such a practice can provide. Two years ago, she moved away from the stereotypical polished gardens to tackle sustainable gardening. According to Oregon State University, a sustainable garden is “one that requires only slightly more planning than conventional gardening. A sustainable garden is one that thrives with minimal inputs of labor, water, fertilizer and pesticides”. Several conversations with enthusiastic local activists led to an extensive refinement of her perception of the perfect garden. She no longer longed for the lush green lawn, or the faultless vegetable garden that harbors fruits and vegetables immune to any sort of imperfection. It was a leap forward in t her environmental ambitions, and the reduction of artificial input became a priority. In addition, she began using plants that are accommodated by the local environment; such plants are much less wedded to the inevitable use of chemical fertilizers, insecticides or other products that are detrimental to the environment. Another essential component of sustainable gardening my mother abides by is composting. Garden and kitchen waste are all turned into valuable nutrients for her garden. In the end, these various procedures have produced a much healthier garden, and a breakthrough in her environmental aspirations.

Being a single mother, fast food restaurants have always been an option, despite the obvious health risks. According to the Food Empowerment Project, tremendously energy intensive to create the food, ridiculous packaging waste in the wrappers, bags and containers, and CO2 emissions at drive-throughs all have a direct impact on our environment. The whole chain of production is harmful to our planet’s well-being. Practically all the meat that is provided to fast food restaurants is produced at factory farms, which epitomize global warming. Fast food restaurants are also renowned for their overuse of packaging. Not only do they contaminate our water, but their production is also accountable for deforestation and pollution.

In conclusion, my family and I do the best we can to maintain the balance between man and nature. However, several difficult circumstances sometimes force us to do things that are only detrimental to our environmental aspirations. If everyone tried to do their part, the future would only be brighter.

(Rewrite)

Dear Mr. President,

The United States of America and Canada are recognized as two of the most enlightened societies around the globe. Our formidable alliance has only benefited the advancement of knowledge and the widespread of logical reasoning. At first glance, the Keystone XL pipeline may seem like a business masterstroke, but, with the urging need to address the energy crisis, one must consider the severe repercussions such an ambitious project can generate. I am against the introduction of the pipeline, simply because it would expose people to health threatening conditions, it would put our environment at risk, and citizens would benefit the least.

Of the numerous negative effects the pipeline would have, exposing ordinary people to hazardous conditions must be the most significant. Indeed, according to Meagan Fitzpatrick’s article, Dr. O’Connor told several US senators that “carcinogens get into the food chain, water and air in communities downstream from the oil sands and that those toxins are linked to cancers occurring in those areas”. Mr. Obama, this is no longer a question of economy versus environment, greed versus compassion, or short-term versus long-term. When human lives are put at risk for the sake of money, it is a question of moral boundaries. These people have the right to remain where they are without being exposed to increased cancer chances. Even the very food they work for and put on the table might eventually be the cause of their death. In other words, the citizens are forced to bleed in order to quench the thirst of a few corporations. Do these words resemble a society founded on justice and transparency? I believe not, sir.

Secondly, as we all know, the grand majority of the issues surrounding the Keystone XL pipeline are primarily focused on our environment. Evidently, the highly controversial pipeline would only bring harm to what remains of the environment that surrounds us. Just like in the not too distant past, there will inevitably be oil spills. According to the National Wildlife Federation, a “massive 2,000 mile, five-state proposed pipeline would use safety shortcuts, substandard materials and unsafe practices, creating a high risk of ruptures that would endanger rare species, water supplies, and rancher livelihoods.” Many of us fear the contamination of our necessary water supply and the destruction of ecosystems. Just like oil, our environment is limited. It cannot continue to endure the repetitive ignorance and negligence of political leaders. It can only withstand so much.

Despite popular belief, Americans would benefit the least from the controversial project. Many in support of the pipeline would quickly point to the immediate creation of jobs. Evidently, the construction of the pipeline would enable thousands of Americans to get rid of their unemployed status, and it would generate a decent amount of profit. One would also imagine that the continual rise of oil prices would finally be brought to a halt. However, according to James Conca of Forbes, “the Keystone XL is designed to promote exports of Canadian tar sands oil and its refined products to non-U.S. markets, especially China and Latin America”. That means the price of the gasoline so many crave will only continue to rise. In the end, it seems as though Americans will benefit the least from this “revolutionary” project, while coping with the majority of the risk. Economical supremacy would, yet again, still be far from our reach.

Mr. President, I understand that the alluring prospect of returning the American economy to its former glory can be difficult to resist, but I need you to also consider the fate of future generations. I need you to think carefully about what an injustice it would be for Mamadou of Senegal, for Felipe of Brazil, or for Natasha and Malia Ann of the USA. No money or political power can spare us from the unruly forces of nature. Once you make that call Mr. President, there is no turning back.

Yours sincerely,
Khaled Fawal

 

References

Keystone XL would endanger health of Americans, U.S. senators say, Meagan Fitzpatrick, CBC News:
http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/keystone-xl-would-endanger-health-of-americans-u-s-senators-say-1.2552425

Staying Hooked on a Dirty Fuel: Why Canadian Tar Sands Pipelines Are a Bad Bet for the United States, National Wildlife Federation:
http://www.nwf.org/News-and-Magazines/Media-Center/Reports/Archive/2010/Tar-Sands-Staying-Hooked-on-a-Dirty-Fuel.aspx

What Is Wrong With The Keystone XL Pipeline?, James Conca, Forbes:
http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2013/08/25/what-is-wrong-with-the-keystone-xl-pipeline/

The Real Energy Crisis

By Khaled Fawal

Within all wealthy nations around the globe, governments and social activists are focused more than ever on what is perceived to be an ever-growing energy crisis. The glaring depletion of resources, the rise of oil prices on a global scale and the pressing need to address rapid climate change have suddenly made energy the central dilemma of our generation. The real energy crisis, however, lies well beyond the skyscrapers and the eternal traffic congestions.

Billions of men, women and children around the world are condemned to live in poverty with virtually no access to modern energy services. With the simple flip of a switch, an American or Frenchman can dazzle the mind of a young boy in Kenya. Indeed, around 1.6 billion of those in third world countries live without the grace of electricity. That means nights in complete darkness, very limited access to modern communications, inefficient educational institutions, and substandard health facilities. These are, in our eyes, perceived as essential to social and economic growth. Yet, all these things we take for granted are well and truly absent from their everyday lives.

These men and women are also forced to rely on polluted and harmful substances to meet the most basic of their needs. They cook food for themselves and for their children with biomass. Let that sink in for a minute. Institutions, foundations and governments around the world recognize the numerous basic rights of a human being. From the right to water to the right to gain a living, they are all essential. In 2014, that basic standard of living is still not provided to these people, simply because they are not equipped with energy.

As we all know, most African countries were colonized by European heavyweights in the not too distant past. It seems as though, however, that armies were simply replaced with corporations. Because the majority of the population has no capital or influence, private energy companies refuse to lend a hand.  If poverty is to be eradicated, foundations and governments must implement an efficient system that would facilitate access to energy for these people.

With the rise of capitalism, energy is now not only a privilege, but a necessity.  Access to it must become a right in itself.

Victorious In Defeat

By Khaled Fawal

Los Angeles has, for quite some time now, been renowned around the continent for its multicultural foundations. After the tragic L.A. riots, the city of Los Angeles advocated the opening of a 14 acre community garden in South Central Los Angeles; a decision that has only brought hope and unity to a neighbourhood ravaged by violence and poverty.

The documentary “The Garden” depicts the inspirational efforts of a Latino-dominant population to preserve what was at the time the largest community garden in the country. A barren, wasted chunk of land in the middle of the city quickly became one of the brightest landmarks in South Central L.A., largely due to the tenacity of the Hispanic community. A little over a decade after its inauguration, a powerful entrepreneur rises out of the shadows and demands that they be evicted. Some shady discussions behind closed doors had controversially brought Horowitz ownership of the land for the same price he had previously sold it.

However, the farmers are not willing to go down without a fight. Several local leaders admirably lead a fight against City Hall, but their efforts bring them little more than sympathy. Fortunately for them, their spirit and unwillingness to leave the garden has made noise around the country, and a fund-raiser is swiftly put in place to raise the money asked by the landowner. Thousands of people around the country, even celebrities such as Willy Nelson and Joan Baez show their support. Against all odds, with the intervention of environmental foundations, the community had finally reached their goal of $16.3 million.

Over the duration of their dispute for the land, however, Horowitz had shown absolutely no compassion for their cause. He quickly becomes a vicious nemesis who lacks both empathy and awareness, an individual whose despicable pursuit of revenge becomes more pressing to him than financial gain. After deliberately demanding a practically unachievable figure for low-income farmers, he turns his back on them at the very end, and the evictions begin.

What happens over the course of the movie is appalling, and the nature of the conflict is extremely aggravating. Serious questions about the justice system in what is supposedly one of the most enlightened countries around the world begin to scratch the surface. The filmmaker profiles a cultural group admirable for their fighting spirit and for their passionate desire to raise food for themselves and their family. “The Garden” is a poignant yet inspiring film that perfectly illustrates the bitterness of defeat and the triumph of a community rising up against all odds to make its voice heard.