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Rockland Community College Professors Speak in Morocco at The First International Conference on Smart Information & Communication Technologies

Rockland Community College Professors Speak in Morocco at The First International Conference on Smart Information & Communication Technologies

Professors Catherine Roche and Patricia Szobonya, Esq.

DATE: October 16 2019

Rockland County, NY -- Rockland Community College Professors Catherine Roche and Patricia Szobonya, Esq. recently presented their co-authored paper entitled, "Pursuing Equality in the Fourth Industrial Revolution" at the first Conference on Smart Information & Communication Technologies (SmartICT '19) held in Saida, Morocco. Ms. Szobonya is the Chair of the Paralegal Department and Ms. Roche, Professor of Office Technologies and Business, is also the SUNY COIL Coordinator. Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) is a SUNY initiative focused on the emerging field of Globally Networked Learning, and supports the internationalization strategy at all SUNY universities and colleges as indicated in the phrase “Global Learning for All”. COIL is an example of applied learning conducted in a cross-cultural environment empowered by technology.

COIL has developed an approach to fostering cross-cultural student competence through development of multicultural learning environments. These environments link college classes in different countries. Students from different cultures enroll in shared courses with faculty members from each country co-teaching and co-managing coursework. This teaching and learning paradigm provides innovative, cost-effective internationalization strategies. The classes may be fully online, blended, or face-to-face sessions while collaborative student work takes place online using any or many of the available tools.

"We are living in an exciting time to embrace technology and use it to provide students with an international experience, one that they can observe and participate in first hand. COIL provides students with a virtual space to work together on global issues and international concerns. Students are exposed to ideas that may be distinct from their own, unique cultural perspectives, and different thought processes as they work together on a project. This experience fosters students’ problem solving skills, as well as a sense of empathy and inclusivity, which prepares them to work in a diversified environment. More importantly, global friendships are made and sometimes continue beyond the project," stated Ms. Szobonya.

In their paper and presentation, Professors Roche and Szobonya explain that we have a responsibility to develop, utilize, and monitor artificial intelligence (AI) programs for the greater good of preserving humanity and ensuring equality in this Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). The prevalence of robots, algorithms, and the Internet of Things (IoT) is already affecting many sectors of our economy and impacting our daily lives.

Women and minority groups will undoubtedly encounter more challenges in 4IR than any other group, initially enduring job elimination due to automation. Their research discusses the problems with current AI programs, the challenges in developing neutral, unbiased programs, and the regulation of AI to ensure that it is used to further social equality.

Professor Roche brought the COIL initiative to RCC in 2014 and serves as the COIL Campus Coordinator. “Our students are preparing for full-time employment either immediately upon graduation or after transfer and completion of a baccalaureate degree. Whether at home or abroad, students may serve as members of a global virtual team. By harnessing the power of technology and creating partnerships with institutions and faculty around the world, we at RCC are able to provide students with a virtual cross-cultural experience—that experience is COIL. COIL opens up the world to our students, many of whom have never traveled outside the U.S. COIL promotes 21st century skills by connecting classes through online interactions and experiential learning experiences, fostering international competencies, and enabling cross-cultural dialogue in the classroom. That dialogue many times continues even beyond the academic collaboration.” Throughout the years, about ten Rockland Community College faculty have been trained by SUNY COIL, and have been collaborating with students and faculty partners at institutions in Morocco, South Africa, China, Egypt, the Netherlands, Scotland, Mexico, and Brazil.

Rockland Community College, State University of New York, offers a safe, supportive learning environment for thousands of students from diverse backgrounds who appreciate small class sizes and personal attention from a distinguished, award-winning faculty that includes Fulbright scholars and SUNY Distinguished Professors. Thanks to the school’s affordable tuition, students who start out at RCC and then transfer to a four-year college can save up to $100,000 on their education. RCC is also proud to provide career training and professional development to adult learners looking to change careers or upgrade their skills. More information can be found at

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