Teaching Evaluations

As a member of the teaching staff, I get to be evaluated by my students near to the end of every semester. I normally see the evaluation feedback in the following semester and I have to acknowledge the ratings and comments given and to reply with my own feedback if necessary. For the first semester when I started teaching, I was very nervous to get back my evaluations. As I was new in academia, I didn’t know if I did good or if my students liked me.

The subject is quite boring. May add in some interesting material.
If possible, lecture note should be presented in a simple & plain English because too definition based will make it difficult to understand.

This was my very first feedback in 2014. It was my first time teaching an information security course. I did realise the lecture slides were a bit too wordy but being new I didn’t dare to reword them.

Interesting teaching way and we can get the knowledge faster.
A good lecturer indeed!
The best lecturer! I really understand what she teaches in class. Very good! I hope in the future she also teaches us. I think majority will agree with me.

For the following year, I received much positive feedback. Of course, I’m pleased.

Explains clearly scope and intro what to be learnt. Great teaching method with examples. Suitable pace. Clear and loud.
Clear explanation on what to be done. Clear steps on how to do. Extra info for students. Solves problems well with patience.
Explains every question clear. Communicate well with students. Teaches and explains with examples. Best tutor ever!
Teaching very clearly. Easy to understand. Answer students question with easy example and explanation.

As I get more comfortable in teaching, I got slightly better feedback, though I also got a few evaluations without any comment. Asian students generally don’t like to voice up their comment, no matter good or bad, on such formal platform. However, on social media, they are totally different people altogether, with mostly complaints. I have heard ‘horror’ stories of students complaining about lecturers on social media so I tend to avoid reading any of them.

Lecturer is full of knowledge.
She is a patient lecturer. We know a lot about information security from her
Very nice tutor. She is very experienced, knows a lot of thing.

This feedback was the latest from last semester where I did another information security course. I’m actually quite surprised that my students saw me as experienced and full of knowledge. Although I feel I have improved, I still don’t see myself very experienced yet. Anyway, I’m still glad to get such positive feedback. It means I’m doing something good and my students feel it.

So, if you are a teaching staff, what kind of feedback you have received? Is there any interesting or funny feedback?


My reading list for 2017

I have tried my best to read as much as possible according to my study plan since my last post. Am I successful? I would say far from it. I’m still at Chapter 1, though I’m already at page 130. However, the start of Chapter 2 is at page 189. So another 50 pages more to go. Another reason I’m far from completing my reading is because I read other books in between too. My reading list is rather lengthy by now because I’m too greedy. I wish I have all the time to do just reading.

Let’s look at my current reading list for this year:

CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide, Seventh Edition – my aim is to read, practice the exam questions and take the certification exam this year. Of course, I read too in preparation for teaching most of the InfoSec courses in my campus.

CompTIA Security+ Study Guide: SY0-401, 6th Edition – the undergraduate programme under my care is going to incorporate this certification as part of the syllabus so I’m reading it to see its coverage and to reinforce my InfoSec knowledge. This book is an easy ready so far. I have completed Chapter 1.

Secrets and Lies: Digital Security in a Networked World – being an InfoSec enthusiast, Bruce Schneier is a big name in the field. I love his books. I’m so happy to find this book in my campus library. I read it for leisure at home and already halfway through. I wish my campus library has more of his books.

Spam Nation: The Inside Story of Organized Cybercrime-from Global Epidemic to Your Front Door – started reading this out of my interest in cybercrime. It’s really an interesting story and I’m really impressed with Brian Krebs’ journalism dedication in revealing the dark side of the cyber world. 

Impossible to Ignore: Creating Memorable Content to Influence Decisions – I got this book quite long ago with the intention to learn the best technique to captivate my students with my lectures. I was hoping with some good techniques, my students would not tell me that they have forgotten whatever I said in lecture. 

The Dance of the Possible – I have been following Scott Berkun for years and I’m quite in love with his books. Being his fans, we got to download his latest book for reading and review (for a very limited time). I have finished the first few chapters and they are really interesting on how we think about creativity.

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind – I read recently that this book is so good so being the greedy me, I went to search for it and found a copy. I have read the first few pages and they are really interesting. I wish I can write like Yuval Noah Harari. Another great author to admire.

See, I’m not kidding that I’m greedy when come to books. I wish I have all the time to just read these books. No doubt, I have been doing a lot of readings since I joined academia. Reading students’ assignments, reports, and the like. Haha!

ScienceDirect – Import to Mendeley

I attended a workshop on optimizing the use of ScienceDirect some times ago because our university has subscribed to many journals from ScienceDirect. Being a teaching oriented institution for so many years, moving toward research oriented will take some times, especially for us, the academics who have heavy teaching loads each semester. During the workshop, I was very impressed with the ScienceDirect website which has a great deal of useful functions that I may not have encountered them myself such as the advanced search function and how to find out if we have full access to certain articles and journals. I might have forgotten some of the things I learned that day but today what I want to share is the awesome function to import article to Mendeley from ScienceDirect and some useful functions we can find on the web version while previewing the article.

Here is one of the recent article that I found from a potential supervisor that I wish to explore PhD opportunity with (that will be another story for another post). I’m amazed with the just one-click of a button to import that article to Mendeley.

Once I click Save to Mendeley and log-in to my account, all the work will be done for me. It’s really very easy.

What I like about ScienceDirect when viewing the article on the web version is the additional useful information available to us when perusing the article.

Article outline section on the left is very useful to see in a glance what the paper is about. A click on Show full outline will give us more details and one click on the sub topic will bring us to the section of the article.

I also like this Figures and Tables feature, just below the article outline, that list all the tables and figures from the article. One click on the figure will bring us to the page and there is a function of Figure options available on the figure itself. We can choose to download full-size image or PowerPoint slide. Simply awesome features!  On the right side, there are some recommended articles related to the article at preview, which I found to be very useful to find out similar papers for reading.

There may be more great functions within ScienceDirect that I do not know yet but all in all, I’m very happy with what I use so far.

Are you user of ScienceDirect? Share with me other great features if you know more. Thanks!

It’s July? 

Where has June gone to? I have no idea a month has passed and I hadn’t visited my blog for that long. Now let me think what have I done in June. Err…Emm…

Okay, the semester started at the end of May so I was pretty busy with lessons preparation the first few weeks of the semester. Then by week 5, I had to submit 4 set of questions papers for 2 different courses that I’m teaching this semester. Other than invigilating duties, my second dreaded task in academia is being the examiner of final exam papers. The amount of work to just prepare exam paper is seriously taking all my times. The worst thing of all is if the course is new and the syllabus is not being familiarized yet. Anyway, I have done my job on time as required, something I’m very proud of myself. 

This is week 6 and we are having public holidays during midweek so I’m taking my rest days to update here while trying to catch up with some revision of Information security certification CISSP. It’s really helpful that I’m teaching 2 information security courses that cover parts of the certification syllabus. I also feel that my understanding and knowledge have grown since I started teaching this semester. Totally agree with Dr Ana that the best way to learn a topic is to teach it.

Attending the certification training before the semester started really helps opening my eyes and giving me great insight into this field. I actually can relate so much more to the important topics when I’m teaching them to my students after the training. I seriously hope I can instill some interest in my students in these courses as I’m increasing my own interest in these courses. 

Talking about my own preparation for the certification, I’m rather ashamed of myself for lack of serious study. Although I did study parts of the topics whenever I need them to teach the students, I haven’t really done any serious revision of my own in order to sit for the exam. I have been spending some times listening to audio lecture from one prominent trainer but I don’t feel I’m good enough if I don’t make proper notes, though I have done some rough unorganized notes. So I have decided to make better notes while doing revision and I’m going to write them on this blog. Hopefully, I’ll do it in a more dedicated manner and maybe some people who are in the same field would benefit from my notes too. 

Okay, I promise I will do this soon and pray that I can get ready real soon for the certification. I truly have great interest in this information security field and I hope I can become a better security professional. 

Bye bye May, Hello new semester!

Good times pass real fast, especially if you are on vacation. My first ever long semester holiday has officially come to an end. I just started my first lecture yesterday but it was a disaster (another story another day, I guess!). Anyway, I came back from my 2-week holiday in the middle of May (it’s really a great holiday and I wish I have more time to share about it), then I spent a lot of times sitting on my desk working on my teaching materials for the new semester. There are simply so much to do every day at work, even though it was still semester break that time. I really felt no end to my work in academia but I’m not complaining. I love my job!

These are the books that I used for reference to prepare my teaching materials for two different security courses this semester. At times, I really opened up all these books on my desk just to double check on certain topics. I truly felt so studious that time. Truly more hardworking than my own students. Haha! It does have its fun but the process is rather tiring. Studying to teach is much harder than studying for my own but it’s still enjoyable because I love to learn new things.

Another reason why my work is never-ending is due to my new role as programme leader for a bachelor programme. I was a programme leader for a diploma programme for 6 months before my boss asked me to take over the bachelor programme. Most of the works are still the same except a bachelor programme has more components to take care of, which I’m still learning the ropes.

With this new role, I had to switch to another new room too. Here’s my desk facing a big white board, all for me. I’m still thinking what to write on it. It’s my first time getting such a big white board to myself and I can write whatever I want. I feel like a small kid with new toy. Haha!

I have also started reading this book to learn interesting way to do presentation to capture the attention of my audience a.k.a. my students. I have finished chapter 1 and it’s really very interesting. I wish I have more time spent on reading more. I have many books pending in my reading list. I also have to revise on CISSP to prepare to take the certification examination. Simply so much to do and I’m running short of time.

Oh, I’m also trying something new this semester to experiment with blogging as part of students’ assignment submissions. I wonder how well this will go. Last two semesters I had already experimented with Google Classroom and I really like it. However, there is no blogging tool in Google Classroom so I have to switch back to Blackboard this semester to try out the blogging tool. I hope I have time to write some review about these teaching and learning platforms to share with more people.

That’s all for now. Saying goodbye to May. This month of May has been great to me! I look forward to this new semester and hopefully things will be much better after my yesterday’s disastrous first lecture. Keeping my fingers crossed!

Wrapping up the academic year

The last semester for the academic year is finally over. All my invigilating and marking duties have been completed too. I was supposed to have more time to update here but I couldn’t because I have been busy preparing my new course for next semester, another new academic year. Anyway, since it’s the end of the semester, I have a lot of things to look forward to before another semester begins.

First up, I’m looking forward to my birthday this weekend. No special celebration as birthday is just another day that especially reminding me of my increasing age. Haha! I’m just going to spend quality time with the husband and probably a nice catch up session with my best friend who is going to join me for brunch on my birthday.

Next up is real exciting for me. I’m going for a 1-week training starting next Monday. Why is it so exciting? This training will be one great milestone in my academic career (if I pass the certification!). For information security professionals, the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification is the most esteemed achievement. I have specially requested for such training because I have been teaching a few security courses and I found myself not up to the level I wish I had. Hence, I’m hoping after the training I will have more confidence in doing all kind of security courses and eventually getting myself ready to pass the certification. My next new course will benefit a lot from this training too and I have been reading up and listening to audio lecture before the training. It’s not going to be an easy one but I’m confident I can do this.

After working hard for one academic year, I believe I deserve a good vacation. That’s what I’m going to do next. All my vacation plans have been finalized. First, we are going to Taipei, Taiwan for around a week, then we are going for island vacation within Malaysia. Just thinking about this makes me so excited and happy.

I have done some research and studying the transport map for Taipei. The husband printed this map for me to make notes on. Quite cool, right? I highlighted the stations that we are going for destinations that we want to visit. We have no definite itinerary yet but we have rough idea where we want to go. This will be my longest vacation ever and my first time being so ambitious to have two vacation destinations back to back in 2 weeks. I don’t usually get long semester break and this is the one and only time we get longer than usual holiday. Unfortunately, this will not happen again when the semester dates are synchronized after this. Hence, I’m taking full advantage of this opportunity and I’m sure I’m going to enjoy every moment of it.

Until my next update, wishing you a nice weekend ahead!

A busy January

I really thought this January would be more relaxing as it’s the end of semester. Unfortunately, I had nearly forgotten that I have to conduct a public course and it’s going to take 7 of my Saturdays. After discussing with the organizer, I’m going to start my first class on this coming Saturday. To be honest, I’m a bit nervous. This is my first time teaching a public course and it’s going to be a full day on every Saturday. My students would be different from my usual ones too because this public course is catered to working adults. The course itself is nothing new to me as I have taught it before, yet I’m still nervous thinking about conducting this course. Anyway, I’m telling myself a good preparation will definitely ease my anxiety and boast my confidence.

Problem now is I need to find time to do preparation in the midst of my marking workload and invigilating duties.

These piles are keeping me busy on weekdays and also last weekend, although I’m trying to minimize any work during my Sunday. I deserve a good day off, right? Since I’m going to work on Saturdays, my Sundays are becoming more precious now. These are only half of the total piles. I still have more coming this week.

Good thing is my dateline is this Thursday to submit all these markings, then next week I will be off to a conference for a few weekdays. Definitely something to look forward to. However, I just couldn’t believe my January is so full of activities and it is coming to an end soon. Can time pass a bit slower, please? Hehe!