Reflections on 2016

I hope I’m not too late in writing my reflections for 2016. Writing anything nowadays is becoming quite hard. My thoughts are rather incoherent and I’m quite distracted with the endless tasks at work. Or is it simply the Internet? I’m stealing some times away now since the semester has ended and I can try to relax a bit before the examinations start and the grading madness begins.

So here are some of the things that happened in 2016 that I would like to reflect on.

Career

It’s my third year working in academia and I have accustomed to the academic environment by now. I have also established my own specialisation in information security and computer networking areas. I’m working hard to become more expert in these areas. It’s just the beginning but I guess it’s a good start. It’s also a good thing that I know what I want to specialise in. I have seen many academics are rather lost in finding their area of specialisation which in the end they are always teaching something that are not in their interests. Anyway, I’m glad I had been given various opportunity to improve myself including a sponsored CISSP training paid by the faculty that literally reinforced my area of interest.

Early in 2016 I had been given an opportunity to conduct a public course on computer networking for working adults. Although I had to work on Saturdays, the pay was pretty good and the experience was the most valuable for me. Teaching working adults was so different from my usual playful adolescent students. These people were paying good money to learn from me and I did my best to share my knowledge and skills.

2016 had been a great year for me in attending conferences. I attended one in Langkawi beginning of the year and I attended another one in Sandakan near to the end of the year. I had also visited branch campuses in different states beginning of the year. I would say working in academia has increased my travelling for work as compared to my many years working in the industry. I guess it’s a good thing to be able to travel and meet new people and learn from the experience.

I also would like to note that I attended a free workshop conducted by my ex-student who is now a talented trainer in that company. The proudest moment as a lecturer to experience first hand how well my student has become after graduation. What a satisfying moment as an educator!

Personal

On this level, I would want to reflect briefly about my father’s passing in March 2016. He had been bedridden for more than 14 years due to stroke attack so honestly I felt his passing was not a bad thing for him or for the family. I was not very close to him but he was a great dad.

In May, I got the longest semester break ever due to readjustment of semester dates. I took the opportunity to travel with the husband to Taipei, Taiwan and we shopped and ate so much. We continue to our island holiday in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah and we experienced our first steam train ride from North Borneo Railway. It’s not cheap but the experience worth it.

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Gaya Island

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North Borneo Railway

It’s the best longest holiday ever for me and I won’t get another chance at that now because the semesters are back to back with maximum 3 weeks break for the students. For academic staff, we get much lesser due to meeting and other workload.

Writing/Reading

Writing was scarce in 2016 and I feel very bad about it. I have to admit it’s my bad time management and I seriously hope I can improve my writing productivity this year. I actually had a lot of writing ideas but sadly I didn’t get the time to really sit down and put my thoughts to words.

For reading, I actually did some but mostly CISSP books or information security related topics for teaching purposes. The only book I managed to finish reading in 2016 was The Art of Deception by Kevin D. Mitnick (also related to information security area that I teach).

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I started leisure reading other books such as Spam Nation by Brian Krebs, Impossible to Ignore by Carmen Simon (recommended by Scott Adam), and The 5 Choices but I still haven’t finished any yet.

Teaching & Learning Tools

On the tools that I used in my courses, I had explored a bit more in blogging as part of students’ assignments presentation where I also encouraged peer assessment as blog post comments. I had also extensively used Google Form for conducting online quizzes. I really would like to share more on these tools one of these days. I have also started using Microsoft OneNote and I kind of like it. I have customised it to improve my productivity based on the Extraordinary productivity method. OneNote is also a very good tool for ideas collection and creation because you can easily create different notebooks and within them you can create different categories in pages and in tabs, just like you have in physical file. I would like to share about this too soon.

I guess that’s all I have for now. Not bad for a start with more than 800 words today. Haha!

 

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