Engaging 21st-Century Learners
Bishara Abdul-Hamid (M.S.I.T. ’15) says his lifelong passion was to find innovative ways to engage 21st-century learners and global citizens to become leaders in corporate and global higher education partnerships by using creativity and an interdisciplinary approach. “New York Institute of Technology aligned with my academic research interests that focus on initiatives related to Smart cities and inclusive innovation, specifically related to ‘data-driven decision-making, and cultural change’ while addressing specific scientific tools currently applied to the preservation of cultural values and practices through the theme of ‘Technology Preserving Culture,’” he says.
Abdul-Hamid sat down with The Box to talk about his journey and why he founded Hexagon-STEM, a creative learning environment for K-12 students that focuses on science, technology, engineering, and math.
Why did you choose this major? What inspired you to pursue this path?
I was inspired to pursue a Master of Science degree in Instructional Technology to mesh creativity and an interdisciplinary approach to the art and science of instructional design. I have been able to use various technologies to create efficient and effective eLearning courses. My experiences in the global information technology sector have taught me that critical-thinking skills are essential attributes of 21st-century global citizens. Early in my education, I developed a passion for what can be done to combat racial bias in computing and technology. I want to encourage users to use, create, invent, and improve upon what is already available to build a bridge between STEM and real-world issues.
Share some details about your job responsibilities and/or some past experiences. What do you enjoy most about it?
After achieving my M.S. in 2015, I founded Atlanta-based Hexagon-STEM, which has empowered underrepresented K-12 students in STEM. I have experienced the ups and downs of owning your own business and have found work-life balance by incorporating my work in STEM into my daily life by often having my family accompanying me to learn more about my work in STEM. What I love most about what I did is encouraging users to improve upon what is already available to build a bridge between STEM and the real world.
How did your education (inside and outside the classroom) prepare you for success in getting (and doing) your job? For example: Did you work on any class projects or complete an internship that gave you an edge?
While achieving my M.S. in instructional technology, there were pivotal educational experiences inside and outside the classroom that enhanced my current position. I had an opportunity to collaborate with New York Tech faculty and NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYITCOM) to establish a blended short video production workshop using Adobe Captivate to create engaging and effective online teaching and learning experiences. This opportunity allowed me to research current instructional design technologies, applications, strategies, methodologies, and practices and provided informative feedback for instructor competencies and execution of best practices that support effective online education by ensuring the workshop met the university’s expectations and learning outcomes. I was also able to collaborate with Atlanta Technical College, Atlanta, Ga., and worked with the Atlanta Technical College Institute for Males (AIM) Summer Leadership Camp. I also partnered with institutional stakeholders to develop an online learning workshop with a global perspective for an annual camp that engaged 10th, 11th, and 12th-grade males in becoming leaders in their community through online learning technologies that promote student success.
Do you have a special memory about a New York Tech experience or faculty member?
While at New York Tech, I was engaged and mentored by Dr. Shabana Figueroa, adjunct faculty, and Dr. Shiang-Kwei Wang, a former faculty member. The memory that stands out the most is the collaboration with New York Tech faculty and NYITCOM.