You can set your clock by most graduation ceremonies. Dutifully (and, yes, predictably) the late spring ritual serves as both an end and a beginning. But not all commencement ceremonies are alike, and some are especially laden with meaning.
Consider that the scenario for the first undergraduate commencement ceremony at the American University of Iraq (AUIS), a private, non-profit university located in the city of Sulaimani in the Kurdistan Region, offering a liberal arts education based on the American model. On June 16, AUIS will award 37 undergraduate degrees, including the university’s first cohort of ten students.
A portion of the graduating class passed through the AUIS Academic Preparatory Program, a foundational English curriculum that augments language skills with preparation for undergraduate study in English.
For that preparatory program, AUIS is turning to StudySync (studysync.com), the web-based collaborative curriculum from BookheadEd Learning, LLC. On the heels of a successful pilot focused on English language learning, every Academic Preparatory Program (APP) student will now have access to the StudySync platform.
An innovative academic tool, StudySync was created by leading national educators with the goal of building reading and writing skills and fostering critical thinking.
Rosalind Warfield-Brown, Director of the Academic Preparatory Program, chose StudySync for its wide selection of readings. "There's something to appeal to all of our students," she said,"and that's important in a culture where reading is not a pastime of choice. We've found that the range of the StudySync library offerings is one of its greatest strengths."
“AUIS provides an alternative to the ‘lecture-memorize-repeat’ model of education prevalent elsewhere in Iraq, which makes the school an ideal fit for our curriculum,” said Ryan Bubalo, Education Accounts Manager at StudySync, who guided implementation of the pilot program. “The student population is a mixture of ethnicities, and is just as diverse geographically and linguistically. But English is the lingua franca. Iraqi students want to feel connected to the rest of the world, and this is an opportunity to do that. StudySync is building English skills that help transcend the other barriers student face.”
Based on the pilot – which, as in the U.S., enlists broadcast-quality video, digital media, mobile platforms and social learning to advance students’ reading, writing and critical thinking abilities – StudySync appears poised for take-off.
“Contrary to our expectations that writing would be the big hurdle, reading has proven to be the real challenge to our students, but they’ve been totally engaged by the StudySync videos,” said Rachel Laribee, Deputy Director of the APP. “While we initially thought video was only for struggling students, it’s been good for everyone.”
"Most of my students aren’t crazy about reading, but they were completely engrossed when we used StudySync in the lab,” said Christine Steele, one of the APP’s lecturers. “I believe that the well-chosen library with its audio support as well as the interactivity and high production values of the site engaged the students and made the reading fun and the meaning accessible for them. And I Iove the thoughtful writing prompts. I’m looking forward to using Study Sync more and more!"
"As a teacher I've always been wary of edtech programs that promise to revolutionize the classroom experience,” observed Ryan Gorman, another APP teacher. “But StudySync's wealth of resources, engaging videos, interactivity and user-friendliness deliver on this often-dubious promise. Students love the program for what it provides and I love it for exactly the same reason."
According to StudySync’s Ryan Bubalo,“AIUS is the most technologically advanced campus in Iraq. StudySync takes learning to the 21st Century place where these students like to see it, and adds cultural context, so we end up shaping not just language skills but also leadership skills and cultural awareness in the global economy.”
About the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani
AUIS is Iraq’s only private, non-profit university. The mission of the university is to provide advanced academic programs at international standards of quality in higher education for the professions and general education. Academic programs, taught in the English language by international faculty members, are designed to meet or exceed accreditation standards set by regional accreditation organizations in the United States. It is the objective of the University to produce graduates of responsible character with the necessary knowledge and skills for professional and national leadership. Students are prepared for successful careers in a modern, democratic, pluralistic society and in a global environment. The educational program of the university is designed to develop strength in critical thinking, the ability to communicate well, a strong work ethic, good citizenship and personal integrity.
About BookheadEd Learning, LLC
BookheadEd Learning (studysync.com) connects high school and middle school students to the great ideas of mankind through technology, multimedia, and a rich library of classic and modern texts. StudySync, its award-winning flagship product, uses web-delivered educational tools – including broadcast-quality video, digital media, mobile platforms and social networking —to help teachers inspire higher levels of students’ reading, writing, critical thinking, academic discourse and peer-to-peer collaboration. StudySync is the recipient of the EDDIE Award from ComputED Gazette and District Administration Magazine’s “Readers’ Choice Top 100 Products of 2011.” Based in Sonoma, Calif. with an office in Cambridge, Mass., BookheadEd is comprised of educators and experts who believe “Together We’re Smarter.” To learn more about BookheadEd Learning and its StudySync educational platform, visit the website.