Mona Attwa's Qahwa Arabi platform makes learning accessible and appealing for remote students
Mona Attwa, an Arabic instructor in the Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations, for realizing a long-time goal with the production of the online platform Qahwa Arabi. The platform went live on August 23. Mona sought ASSETT’s support for the project as a member of the 2019-2020 Faculty Fellows cohort.
The platform is intended to mimic the casual atmosphere of a coffee shop, but in a digital environment. (Qahwa Arabi means “coffee shop” in Arabic.) Attwa describes it as “a space for students to feel comfortable with learning and being engaged with the [Arabic] language.” And this platform comes just in time as learning has moved online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Qahwa Arabi provides a more authentic way for students to engage with the Arabic language when learning remotely. Further, the platform allows for Arabic to become more accessible and appealing to a wider audience. For example, the platform incorporates many interactive features including audio recordings for proper pronunciation, videos demonstrating how to draw the letters, and flashcards that help students study, test their knowledge, and play matching games.
Attwa explains that the platform “provides supplementary materials to guide our teaching of Arabic at CU Boulder.” While it’s a big accomplishment to get this far, she is eager to expand the platform, which currently covers the first five weeks of the beginning Arabic course (ARAB 1010). Her eventual goal is to expand its coverage to the entire ten-week introductory curriculum as well as to other courses in the Arabic program. Attawa is also seeking feedback from her current students on how to make Qahwa Arabi even better.
Attwa was first inspired to create this resource in 2016 after attending a workshop focused on incorporating video into the classroom environment. It was then that she noticed a gap in technological resources. She realized that not all platforms are able to be adapted into the Arabic classroom due the nature of the language and script. It was upon this realization that she came up with the idea to develop her own platform on which Arabic instructors, like herself, can upload materials and enhance their courses to help students learn the language better.
Attwa was able to bring her concept into fruition by collaborating with web developers and graphic designers, thanks to support and funding provided by her partners at ASSETT, ALTEC, TechMark DS (a Boulder-based internet marketing service), and Aman Alchukr, who designed the logo and theme. She expressed her appreciation for her time as a Faculty Fellow, saying that she is grateful for the opportunity to learn from the other members of the program and that ASSETT helped her translate her ambitious ideas into concrete steps so that she could really push forward on this project.
ASSETT is proud to support dedicated faculty who seek to improve learning for our diverse student population. Amanda McAndrew, facilitator of the Faculty Fellows program, readily admits that she was skeptical that this project would come to fruition: “I just thought it would take too much money, but I am so excited to see all that Mona has accomplished. This is one of our top Faculty Fellows projects ever!”
Kudos to Mona Attwa on this accomplishment! We look forward to seeing future iterations of Qahwa Arabi.