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Reflecting over the semester Zanzibar style

I survived my first semester of teaching communication skills at The State University of Zanzibar.

It was an extremely challenging experience–poor Internet connectivity, smouldering hot classrooms, and mixed levels of English speaking and writing skills among the students. Despite the challenges, the students performed admirably and I am incredibly proud of them.

I consider the semester a success for the following reasons:

  • The students had to learn communication skills by working in development teams to create a product or service. I was surprised to learn that many of them did not know they could have other computing careers besides being a programmer. Many students now are interested in product management, program management, quality assurance, and so on.
  • The confidence level of the girls improved 1000%. Instead of whispering and holding their heads down while delivering a presentation, they now project and display a high level of confidence.
  • The students learned how to deliver a presentation without reading every word from a Powerpoint presentation. This new skill is a major achievement. Consider if you had limited English skills and were asked to master and deliver content in English. It was very challenging for them! But they were dedicated and practiced constantly. I admire their courage to rise to the occasion.
  • We invited students and faculty to their final presentations. When other students in the university saw what they accomplished, they were inspired. They saw their peers display confidence and convey information intelligently. Now they know they can do it too.

A few of my communication skills students

I want to thank the Vice-Chancellor, Idris Rai and the Dean of Computing, Yahya Sheik for allowing me to use a different approach in teaching communication skills to computing students. But most of all I thank my students for trusting and believing in my method and rising to the occasion.  They have only scratched the surface of what they can learn and deliver. I urge them to continue using the skills they learned in this class.

I want to share some videos of their presentations, but the file sizes are too large for this site. Later, I will upload them to the Nayah YouTube channel— if I have enough bandwidth for the upload!


BeLinda Nichols









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