What’s Next After #Outreachy ? #Week9

 

I don’t usually set plans and I don’t like to spend time thinking about a specific goal ! I know these are not the characteristics of a successful person, but it is fine I am not planning to be very successful in my life,  all what I want is to be happy and do something that worth living for.

Through my life I have passed by many situation where I worked for something and got something else. Most of the time the other thing is better than what I worked for but this is always not clear at the beginning. I believe that the most important thing is to do something useful for others,  and to never stop learning and working on improving your skills and abilities, even if you don’t know what you are working for or to where are you planning to go .

What I love about working with Oppia is that it goes along with what I have been doing since many years.  I always volunteer with schools because I am interested in improving education and introducing technology to the young generation. In 2018, I was a co-mentor for Technovation challenge which is a worldwide competition that aims to teach programming to school girls. For over three months, I mentored four girls to solve a community relevant problem, write a business plan, and develop a mobile application. The team I mentored was the first Palestinian team to reach the final stage and participate in the global pitch summit in Silicon Valley. We won two awards: the people’s choice award and second place overall. The long term impact of Technovation was that the four girls who I mentored are now pursuing their undergraduate study in a technology field.

In 2019, I led three workshops for more than 100 school students from several schools. I introduced them to virtual reality (VR) and taught them how to create simple web VR content.

From now on, I will add Oppia to my volunteering activities and I will  work to introduce  as many students as I can to it, so they learn math and other subjects in a fun way. Moreover, I will continue helping in research studies and testing Oppia’s lessons. Also, I will join Oppia as an Outreachy mentor in the upcoming round.

In November last year I  have applied for two  scholarships  in order   to get master degree in Business Analytics and big data . The selected candidates for the next stage are supposed to be informed late February. I did not get any rejection email from any of them so I am optimistic.

My work with Oppia includes  performing users’ study with students, analyze their results and feedback. For sure, this is helping me gain real-life skills in research and analysis.

After completing my Master’s degree, I want to continue my volunteer activities that support women and education. Having an MSc in business Analytics and big data will allow me to share my knowledge with students and be a role model for them. I will help Palestinian women to be independent and successful by starting a platform that provides free consultancy for women who are planning to start their own business and help them to earn a living.

I have no specific goal for my career but I believe that in the near future all business sectors in Palestine will need to address big data and will need skilled people to manage development. Also, I will  start my own business that will provide consultancy and data analysis services to local and international projects. I dream to expand this business to be able to provide data analysis services to governmental sectors like health and education, and help the managers of these sectors to make socially conscious decisions to improve the quality of the services they provide.

Apparently, it looks like I have a plan but I did not know …The most important thing I think  is  to be flexible and never  stick to one goal or one plan. If your plan does not work life will bring you better opportunities by time …

 

My Progress in the first half of Outreachy internship !

In this blog post I’m talking about my progress in the first half of Outreachy internship. The most important thing I did is that I have started working on 3 Mathematics topics provided by Oppia with 6 amazing students. I contacted with Tomorrow’s Youth Organization in Nablus, which is a non-governmental organization that works in disadvantaged areas of the city, doing community service and charitable work for children, youth and parents. They provide me with computer lab and internet connection needed for the study.

Since the middle of January, I have been working with students in separated sessions. Students were selected depending on specific criteria related to their previous knowledge. In the first 2 sessions all participating students got introduced to Oppia’s mission and understood what we are going to do during the study. Also, I showed  students the  computer skills needed for them to be able to solve the lessons (Scrolling, writing symbols like : + =  ).  After that, students filled the pre requirement  survey in order to measure their level in the mathematics topic they want to work on. During the sessions my role as a facilitator is to  watch the students and help them when needed. I  take notes about students’ reactions, questions, challenges, technical problems, learning difficulties and improvement suggestions. Also, with the help of my mentors I have prepared several surveys to be able to measure students progress during each topic.  I am now working on evaluating each student progress in each topic and finding problem with lessons that prevent them from learning as expected. (If existed).

The  study did not finish and we do not have final results yet, but so far , students feedback and suggestions help us a lot improving a lot of features in Oppia platform.

Moreover, during the past month students and I were guest speakers in Technovation challenge kick off event in Palestine, organized by the regional ambassador of the challenge Ayah Soufan.  I invited students to get into the stage and introduced Oppia to about 120 students and 20 teachers. They talked about their experience and how they have been learning using  Oppia platform.

My next task will be improving the students evaluation process to get more accurate result. I planed not to only depend on surveys result but to also interview students and understand what make them answer this way.

Oppia to a newcomer

Hello ! I can not believe that I am almost in the mid point of my Outreachy internship. If you want to know what is Outreachy and how to get involved, please read my previous blog posts.

Outreachy !  the journey just started

Time I were stuck during my #Outreachy internship

In this blog post, I am going to talk about Oppia for someone who is interested in contributing to the Open source but do not know from where to get started or what they can do.

Oppia is a platform that provides free and high quality educational content created by educators from all around the world. Oppia’s mission is to help anyone learn anything they want in an effective and enjoyable way.

As a contributor you have the opportunity to do a lot of things to improve Oppia. You don’t need to be a teacher or a developer to get started. You just need be passionate about  improving education in your country or wiling to learn and improve your research and technical skills.

You can get involved in art, development, local outreach, and lesson creation. The educational content in Oppia is based on story telling and creative artwork is a key part of Oppia’s story. As an artist you can get involved by ceating graphics for lessons, websites, and other foundation-related outreach material. Also, you can collaborate with team to define art-related needs and help drive the design-related strategy and direction for Oppia.

If you are a beginner or experienced developer you can start by collaborating on creating high-quality lessons at scale. The Oppia codebase is open source, developed by a community of volunteers from all around the world who want to use their skills to make a difference.

If you want to start developing you can check Oppia project on git hub and help in building  features that enable students to learn effectively. For example highlight text while narrator read the story. Also, you can provide infrastructure to deliver lessons at scale and apply ML techniques to help Oppia respond better to students’ answers.

Moreover, you can contribute in local outreach and Lesson creation. Local Outreach volunteers host seminars, talk to schools, reach out to parents, and more in order to raise awareness about Oppia to local students and families. These volunteers also play a key role in telling Oppia team  how they  can make Oppia an even better resource for the students they work with. Also, they can help in translation, research and voice over.

Last but not least, if you are a teacher you can simply help in creating lessons. Currently, Oppia is focusing on  on basic mathematics, but intend to expand to other subjects in the future.

More information about what you can do for Oppia can be found here.

As an Outreachy intern, I am working with both local outreach team and developing team. I am doing work on quality assurance by testing the system with students, compiling their feedback  and doing research about their needs. Also, I suggest fixes and discuss with the team about  what  is the best way to apply them. In the near future, I am planning to get involved in simple tasks related to coding  as I am interested in learning Python and angular.

For me, it has been a great experience so far. I encourage anyone to dedicate part of their time  improving Oppia and serve Oppia’s mission.

Time I were stuck during my #Outreachy internship

 

Resource : blog.internshala.com

This post is supposed to be written one week  ago but I am writing it now. Sorry, that I am always late. At the beginning of the internship  I was struggling to  follow the schedule and finish things on time. Usually, when I plan to finish a task I just have  highlights,  I don’t focus on details,  but during my internship I am supposed to write all details in details.

My mentors are so professional and organized and I am doing my best to be organized like them and keep them updated with my work in  a professional way.

In the first two weeks I did 8 short term user studies where I tested the system with each student separately and asked them to do one lesson,  give their opinion and tell me once they get stuck so I take notes, report bugs and suggest fixing . I was surprised that students see things in a different way than we do. Sometimes things that intuitive  for me in dealing with a web application is something that they need to think a lot before doing it.

One of the challenges was explaining to parent what their children are  going to do during the study. All parents I contacted allow their children to participate expect one who thought that these studies would make his daughter distracted and confused between what she takes in schools and what she does with Opiia.

The main task in my third and fourth week  of internship is to write a detailed plan for the long term user study that I would be conducted with students in Palestine. Mentors provided me with resources to start with but it was hard to take care of all steps and scenarios. What  helped me a lot after I deliver the first draft was my  mentors questions bout what I would do to do something or how I expect these things can be measured….I have been updating the plan  accordingly with their notes and questions.

Providing  Oppia (The educational platform I work on) in Arabic to Palestinian students  is a challenge too. Arabic is the  native language and students of low social economic level usually go to public school where they don’t study English in a good way.  Sometimes very simple things take plenty of time. For example, we were translated ratio lesson to Arabic. The ratio which is written 5:4 is read five to four in English . Arabic is a right to left language, so when we mean  5:4 it should be written 4:5 to be read as five to four. We thought it would work just by change the CSS and set the direction to rtl (Right to left), but It did not. We did not find a way to do so and we noticed the same problem when using google translate. After several trials and long time searching we noticed that we can write ratios correctly in Arabic by adding a space between one of the numbers and the colon (:) . Even google translate don’t read ratios in the right direction in Arabic if there is no space. Here is the issue.

https://github.com/oppia/oppia/issues/8296

I believe, that learning and improving our skills are the main purpose of this internship. In order to learn we should try, do mistakes, read, and ask. Discussing with my mentors through emails or regular meetings always help me in solving confusions and problems.  I like that they contacted me with other people who work on Oppia  and are responsible about  answering my questions or fixing the bug.

If you don’t understand what is Oppia and what you can do to be part of the team, stay tuned for my next blog where I am going to  explain my project to  newcomers to Oppia.

If you want to know more about Outreachy and how to apply, please visit my blog about the process of applying to Outreachy.

 

 

 

 

 

Outreachy ! The Journey Just Started …

I first heard about Outrachy program in 2016 while I was a men-tee  at Mozilla organization during Techwomen program. I knew that Outreachy offers a paid internship for people who want to contribute to the open source. I loved the idea but I  I never did code contribution before  and I did not have enough skills to do so. I did not even give it a try.

In June, 2019 while I was attending the All hands event in Whistler-Canada, my friend Havi Hoffman (One of the most amazing Mozilla employees) mentioned the program to me and told me that she thought that it is a great program and encouraged me to apply and told me that  Princia; a Mozilla techspeaker and a very outstanding women  was previous Outreachy  intern . After Havi’s advice I considered visiting the website and know more about the program. And Guess what ! Contributing to open source  is not just about programing ! I was impressed by the number of open source projects that were Listed. The skills needed vary depending on the project requirements. Some projects need specific programing skills, some  need documentation and data analysis and others need graphic and design and so on. 

Applying to Oureachy is of two stages. Stage one requires filling initial application that contains questions about applicant’s learning environment and about discrimination they face in their work environment  at their countries. The second stage requires candidates who pass the initial phase to contribute to one or more open source projects that are listed in the Outreachy website. outreachy.org

After spending enough time reading projects description and their requirements I have decided to contribute to two amazing projects. One is called Librehealth in  which I contributed in improving documentation and to fix some  bugs in the UI, it was my first time to do pull request and do code contribution to an open source project. The second project is Oppia, which is great project that aim to provide students with quality education regardless of where they are or what traditional resources they have access to. My contributions were simple that I did not expect to be selected, but I really learned a lot from the contribution period. The surprise was that I got selected for both of the projects that I have applied for and unfortunately I had to pick just one project. I picked Oppia because I am  interested in applying technology to improve education,  I really enjoy working with students and I want to help in performing researches and studies that will improve Oppia platform.

More than two weeks of the internship have passed, I am satisfied with what I  do and I hope that I can make the most of such great opportunity. I really encourage anyone who is looking for opportunity to improve their careers and  contribute to the great open source projects to check out Outreachy and never hesitate to apply .  Please, reach out to me at yamama.shakaa@gmail.com if you have any questions or concerns related to Outreachy applying process.

My next blog is going to be about time I were stuck during my internship. Stay tuned….

 

 

NYUAD International Hackathon for Social Good in the Arab World

In April, 2019, I was so lucky to participate as a mentor in NYUAD International Hackathon for Social Good in the Arab World. Teams spent three days working on an applications that solve problems in the Arab world. The problems were related to several fields such as health, education, refugees, food-waste and others.

Participants used trending technologies like AI, machine learning, augmented reality to solve  problems. The result was many amazing projects that proves how technology is so important in improving the world and make it a better place.

The first day was started by several lightening talks that introduced participants to trending technologies and skills that help them during the hackathon like augmented reality, AI with Watson APIs , Pitching , ideation and others. I was honored to represent Mozilla techspeakers and gave a talk about webXR API.

The diversity of the participants and mentors was impressing, the hackathon brought more than 120 participants from over 50 countries in one place. Participants were carefully selected depending on their background and skills and the female participation was so distinctive.

Brian chuk and I were co- mentors for a team of 6 amazing students, each was interested in specific fields.

The team was able to come up with a business plan, marketing strategy and a working prototype for a web application that helps coordinate donations to people in need in times of crisis. Also, they practiced hard to pitch the idea in-front of professional judges with long experience in different fields.

Our team was diverse in terms of specialization and nationalities. Mariam from UAE is a details oriented person with outstanding quite character and artistic sense. Danielle from Australia and Aymen from from Algeria were distinguished programmers they were able to spent day and night working on coding. Farouk from Egypt is a future business man he is so interested in doing marketing researches and he was able to look for any information related to money. Omarn Maktabi from Syria and Omar Hafez from Egypt were interested in user experience and front end developing they were responsible about providing the best design and experience to our project’s users .

It was so fun working with such amazing team. All were eager to learn and excited while working. The team was under pressure while practicing the pitching presentation in the last day but we still were able to keep our sense of humor and positivity, We did so good and were able to be the third place winner. 😀

The pitching presentations of all teams were so interesting and professional. It was the first time for me to attend a pitching for many teams without feeling bored . The ideas, the applications, the way of presenting all were so professional and pleasant .

I believe that after this experience each participant grow professionally and personally by expanding their network of professionals, introducing to new cultures and learning new tech and soft skills.

Moreover, the event was so well organized. It is clear that the organizers worked so hard and payed attention to all details to make it such amazing experience . Everything was of high quality; the food, the venue, the welcoming in the airport, the accommodation. At the begining of each day we had a mentor meeting  so organizers make ensure that all is going well and solve any problem that may happened. Literally everything was perfect !

During my way to Abu dhabi from Queen Alia international airport I faced a problem in my passport and the employee did not allow me to check in for a problem in my Arabic name .  My problem got solved immediately once I got contacted with  Prof Sanaa Odeh who connected me to the travel agency. I mentioned this as an example of taking care of all big and small details.

Huge thanks to all organizers who brought this kind of event to the Arab world and who have been committed to organize one annually since 2011.

Finally, I believe that this hackathon has a long term positive impact on each participant. I kindly ask all tech companies to support it even by encouraging their employees to participate or by providing organizers with any kind of support they need to bring creative, innovative students from all around the world.

For more information please check https://nyuad.nyu.edu/en/events/2019/april/nyuad-hackathon-2019.html

Also, this twitter hashtag shows a lot about of how unique and fun this experience was. #NYUADHACK

Stay tuned for 2020 hackathon and contact nyuad.hackathon@nyu.edu for any further information.

My First Mozilla Techspeaker Meetup & My First Visit To Paris

I was invited to attend Mozilla Techspeaker meetup this year in Paris.
The event took place in Mozilla Paris office on 15,16 th September 2018. The purpose of this event is to gather active tech speakers in order to get introduced to each others, attend workshops and get advises about conference speaking ways and strategies from global expert coaches.
The event was wonderful, all participants  delivered a technical talks. All talks were so useful and introduced us to Mozilla’s projects, activities and products . We learned a lot from listening to each others.

I delivered a 7 minutes talk  about Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed Realities in Education. During the talk, I presented a small example I built using (A-frame) to introduce students to Egypt pyramids through a web VR audio tour.

code on github

The coaches feedback was so helpful . They gave their opinion in a positive smart way that help us a lot to improve ourselves and our public speaking skills.
Attending other Tech speakers talks and discussed with them the topic and the coaches opinion was the best part of the event.
All tech speakers are positive and passionate about Mozilla and all were professional in their own way. There is something new I learned from each one of them.
Also, we got the opportunity to attend several workshops about Firefox reality on go , IOT , Rust and web Assembly.


Furthermore, I enjoyed visiting Paris, and going for a tour in the city with those amazing people. We visited  the  National Library, Bank of France, the Stock Exchange, la Place des Victoires, the Ministry of Culture,  the Palais-Royal and the Louvre.


I am grateful that I was able to have this amazing weekend in Paris with the best people anyone can wish for . Thanks to everyone organized and worked hard to make it that success.