This past week, I had to navigate the challenges of post-Coronavirus online learning, a shortened spring semester, and the upcoming holy Ramadan in order to organize two entrepreneurial events for the Business English course that I coordinate. The first event is the Entrepreneurial Presentation Competition, which my team piloted last semester. The second event is a Virtual Showcase Event, which is an event that we initiated this semester. Additionally, I am trying to finalize several versions of the course’s final exam and providing the university with revised course specs. Despite being busy with event planning, I was able to hammer out two articles for our department newsletter. Please feel free to read the two drafts in order to learn more about what I have been up to teaching-wise.
ENGL 252 Virtual Showcase Spring 2021
Since the beginning of ENGL 252 English for Business Communication, the Entrepreneurship Project has been a cornerstone assessment of the course. The project is to create new business ideas for the Qatari market through a multi-stage process in which students learn about definitions of entrepreneurship, pitch their ideas for a business, work with a team to complete a business report, conduct research from potential customers, and present their idea for a business to a wider audience.
Prior to the Coronavirus pandemic, each semester ENGL 252 students would participate in a Showcase Event in which the main halls of the College of Business and Economics would be filled with display boards of student-created business ideas. However, Fall 2019 was the last time the showcase Event was held.
During Fall 2020, course lead responsibilities shifted, and the new course lead, Conan Kmiecik, was mulling over ideas for how to make the showcase event virtual so that it could exist once again in the age of social distancing and distance learning. James Scotland, a colleague of Conan, suggested that Google Sites might be a good platform for an online showcase event since it was a free user-friendly web-building tool. Conan informed the ENGL 252 team about this new possibility and decided to pilot a virtual showcase event during the Spring 2021.
All semester, the ENGL 252 kept quiet about the virtual showcase event. They were unsure how the new project step, website creation, would turn out: would the website be as dynamic as the display boards of the pre-Coronavirus showcase events? Once the ENGL 252 students started to build their websites, however, the course instructors were amazed by the hard work and creativity that many students put into their business websites.
Now, the ENGL 252 is very proud to share the LINK to the ENGL 252 Virtual Showcase Event – Spring 2021. This project step perfectly dovetails with three Qatar University Education Excellence themes initiated during Spring 2021 and ENGL 252 adopted (learner centric, digitally enhanced, and entrepreneurial education). Website creation will definitely continue as a project step in the course no matter if classroom delivery continues online or returns to on campus in future semesters.
Despite the hardships and losses that we all have had to endure since the beginning of the pandemic, the lesson that the creation of the virtual showcase exemplifies is the need of educators to adapt, innovate, and discover new opportunities for high-quality learning to continue.
ENGL 252 Bi-Annual Spring 2021 Entrepreneurial Presentations Competition
On Wednesday, April 7, the ENGL 252 team organized its Bi-Annual Spring 2021 Entrepreneurial Presentations Competition for female students. This was the second time that the event was held virtually—the first was Fall 2020.
The presentation competition is an offshoot event of the ENGL 252 Entrepreneurship Project which requires teams of students to create new business ideas for the Qatari market. For the past several years, the 252 team organized a showcase event each semester to allow students to present their businesses to a wider audience from the university.
However, in Fall 2019, the 252 team organized its first Entrepreneurial Presentation Competition for the top business ideas from the showcase. This was an in-person event and was not able to be replicated in Spring 2020 because of the Coronavirus pandemic. So, that’s when the team decided to make the event virtual.
This semester’s competition was organized by course instructor Mhammed Chadi. The course lead, Conan Kmiecik, served as the events moderator on Microsoft Team. The course co-lead, Issam Affaneh, served as survey organizer and coach for one of the teams.
This event represents a collaboration between Qatar University’s Foundation Program Department of English, the Center for Entrepreneurship in the QU College of Business and Economics, and the Bedaya Center for Entrepreneurship and Career Development.
The panel of judges included Mr. Juha Perälampi who works as the Manager of the Business Incubator, Center for Entrepreneurship, at Qatar University. Mr. Ahmad Al-Saygh is the Entrepreneurship Manager at Bedaya Center. Ms. Laila Al Qaedi the founder and CEO of Medad—a registered trademark in Qatar specialising in creating product design, mainly stationery.
Three teams of students presented their business ideas. They had 6-10 minutes to present, and following their presentation, each judge asked one question. The event allowed participating students to demonstrate their business English abilities, apply their knowledge from business college coursework, and exposed them to the value of entrepreneurship.
In order to respect the cultural values of the female Qatari students, the competition was not broadcast nor were the identities of the participating students shared beyond the event. Still, the business ideas that the three teams presented included:
- Rising Journey – Nursery school
- Caffeinated by Kitten Paws – A cat cafe and cat shelter
- Argan Butter – Butter that is made of Argan oil, honey, and almond paste
In the end, the team behind Rising Journey took first place during the event with Caffeinated by Kitten Paws taking second and Argan Butter placing third.
Regardless of the placing, the ENG 252 team was quite pleased with quality of the presentations, the involvement of its judges, and the turn out for the event. In the future, the team would like the event to someday be an in-person competition, but while distance learning at Qatar University continues, the team knows that it can organize virtual competitions.