Friday, 20 July 2018 19:00

Let's not neglect the soft skills

Given that the discussions about the future of education have shifted to world ranking, means of learning, and students’ mastery of languages, this writer forecasts a surge in commitment to improving these areas in the coming years.

Perhaps, this could be a step forward in harnessing the latest technological revolution, in addition to stressing teacher’s hard work and commitment, and student’s participation in current initiatives.

In recent years, this writer has noticed that the tech industry and its cumulative impacts on today’s education are proliferating via the nuances of “digitalisation”. How technology continuously barges its way into sales, marketing, and supply chains is also not a “fleeting” thing. The Mckinsey Global Institute estimates that applying Artificial Intelligence (AI) on businesses could create an economic value of US$2.7 trillion (RM39.4 trillion) over the next 20 years. Many fret that it could wipe out jobs, and take over the psychical and cognitive aspects of labour. Hence, it is not a mere historic event. Technology is playing out to assert its supremacy in education in the 21st century. This writer is certain that there will be more clarity than conviviality in technology than education.

Nevertheless, banking too much on technology makes one less familiar with education. In reality, technology might not be helping students to acquire the much needed social skills and emotional intelligence. Technological advancement causes disruption, and to depart from being held a captive of technology, this writer calls for the mastering of humanities, civic literacy, global awareness, cross-cultural skills, cultural diversity and ecological literacy.

Life is remarkably complex as society matures through human inter-relationships, behaviours, attitudes, norms, and foremost, social factors — they all play a central role in shaping our intellectual capabilities. These human trajectories eventually dictate the development of society. The essence of education involves nurturing students with “real skills”. It is because of the following fundamental difference — in AI, the key word is “artificial”, while the human being is “real”.

So, how does education help a student acquire the other essentials? The rule is to re-route intellectual commitment to “engagement” in education. Many are already clamouring that the issue in today’s education is more than just revolutionising the means of teaching and learning. Rather, at the heart of learning is engagement. In principle, engagement influences the process of teaching, and is the key to innovation.

Acknowledging the significance of “engagement”, Professor Andrew Walker of Monash University said, “Engagement is the key to what universities do. We are perfectly situated to engage with industries, and to shape a research agenda that will meet the productivity challenges of industry in the new Malaysia”.

Clearly, the goal of higher education should be consistent with literature that supports the view that, to thrive in the 21st century, universities must engage, and students must participate. This vision of education can be enhanced by:

EXPERIENTIAL entrepreneurial education, in which students take up a year internship at startups overseas; and,

SERVICE learning, in which students engage with local communities to create distinctive solutions to social problems.

The goals of such initiatives commensurate with the long-term agenda of nurturing global leaders with amazing social skills, socio-ecological intelligence and leadership. In a similar vein, it facilitates research.

This writer envisions the 21st century education in the following ways: for scholars, it means the overall work of the academy moves towards increasing participation involving broader public discourses. For students, it will mean nursing creative thinking and empathy. For communities and the public, it will mean they simply cannot be detached from the higher education discourse. The further reality is education’s role in sharing knowledge between learners and for learning from the masses.

Hence, it is called a cross-fertilisation of facts. And, for that reason, a multi-disciplinary approach to research and teaching via engagement warrants an attention. This writer has greatly benefited from embracing diversities through engagement. Why not others from all sections of society?

DR ADHA SHALEH is a research fellow at International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) Malaysia This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Published in: New Straits Times, Friday 20 July 2018

Source : https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2018/07/392551/lets-not-neglect-soft-skills

Friday, 02 February 2018 13:00

Matching IoT with ethics

The Internet of Things (IoT) is about a synergy between devices and people. It aids lives, businesses and education by leveraging the network of communication, which is done by the Internet.

At the very basic, the understanding of IoT involves deriving information as it lets users collect a wealth of data from the Internet. As for its application, the emergence of IoT has passed its infancy stage, as the profound social impact is a testament of its benefits. In the examples below, certain trends, figures and the application of IoT have proved its increasing significance in society.

Last year, the time that people spent on using apps globally hit 1.6 trillion hours. That figure will be staggering in future as the connection of devices with the Internet is inevitable.

Affirming this point, app analytics company (Flurry) found that the average time spent per day on mobile devices is two hours 38 minutes. The most significant revelation was that 80 per cent of mobile device users spent their time in apps, while the remaining 20 per cent in website browsing.

In the healthcare sector, the recent news on Malaysia’s first Artificial Intelligence (AI) stethoscope (Stethee) is absolutely cutting edge. Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, the health director-general, said he device allows users to listen to heart and lung with detailed analysis.

Amplified with the geotagging system, Stethee provides insight into problem areas and locations, and environmental data for healthcare professionals to do analysis. Moreover, this sophisticated device will empower remote and rural healthcare with precise detection of heart and lung diseases.

In education, the disruptive technology enhances and replaces existing methods of research in higher-learning institutions. Technology bodes well with social scientists — in sociology, anthropology, and psychology — as they are intrigued by big data.

As a result, the power of big data has transformed the way social scientists distill raw data, i.e. information that has not been processed for use.

Then, data collection used to be interviews, focusing on group discussions to get insights from research participants.

Now, social scientists deal with equally large amounts of data from mixed sources (unstructured texts from social media, pictures, emails, news feeds and text colours). For the analysis of the big data today, the process of deriving high-quality information with “text mining software” helps researchers to understand colour, texture and text.

The text mining analytics tool helps researchers to discover patterns, themes and concepts, with an emphasis on statistical approaches. This unique rise of big data and IoT technologies (cloud computing, data analytics, natural language processing, text and data mining) are useful to improve research quality. Furthermore, it encourages a digital research culture.

No doubt, the enthusiasm in IoT, which today’s society has embraced, is a living testimony of its widespread success. But, the euphoria should not outpace ethics as it holds a prominent place in this brave new world.

With ethics, the question that follows is how to bring out the best in IoT.

Social scientists and healthcare professionals can obviously embrace big data to make their research and analysis more reliable, credible and scalable. But, they also have to think about privacy — what is private and what is not.

For example, the geotagging system allows professionals to track specific locations from a device, but, when it comes to privacy, some data has to be encrypted and a person’s privacy should be maintained.

Although the use of educational apps and other smart forms of technology will enhance the learning experience, the concern is that it will only become an amazing experience for students if they are accelerating new ideas, solutions and issues.

Chief executive officer Satya Nadella of Microsoft said: “We don’t celebrate technology for technology’s sake; we celebrate how others harness the power of technology to go out and change the world.”

For teachers, their role is to facilitate students to benefit from e-learning resources, assist the process of doing assignments, and explain the ethics regarding tasks completion (for instance, citing resources to avoid plagiarism).

In addition, teachers must also empower students by taking them on field visits, so they can learn hands on. It is the practice that makes ethics prevail.

The brave new world is merely at the tip of the iceberg. As there will be many changes and more autonomous systems, the unmatched benefits of IoT should be consistent with ethics. With ethics at its core, the world will be a better place, as technological breakthroughs will bring enormous benefits to society.

Adha Shaleh is a research fellow at the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies Malaysia. He can be reached via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Published in: New Straits Times, Friday 2 February 2018

Source : https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2018/02/331210/matching-iot-ethics

Friday, 21 April 2017 15:04

Challenges facing halal vaccine industry

 

The recent state visit of King Salman Abdulaziz Al-Saud of Saudi Arabia to Malaysia significantly drew high-impact investments to the country. This includes a big investment that bolsters Malaysia’s plan to become the world’s main producer of halal vaccines by next year. A memorandum of understanding was signed between AJ Pharma, a Saudi-based pharmaceutical company under al-Jomaiah Group, and the Halal Development Corporation for an investment of US$300 million (RM1.32 billion) for facilities and infrastructure in Malaysia........................Download the full article in pdf attachment (below)

 

Keseimbangan alam semula jadi adalah elemen paling penting dalam menjamin usaha pembangunan kelestarian alam. Satu langkah bijak bagi masyarakat moden hari ini dalam menjaga keseimbangan ini adalah dengan menggunakan tenaga hijau dalam menjalani khidupan seharian.......................Download the full article in pdf attachment (below)

Monday, 16 January 2017 10:00

Islam and sustainable growth

Sustainable development (SD) gained traction in the 1960s due to heightened apprehensions over crucial issues of human survival. The key question asked was: Are we moving towards a sustainable future considering the poverty trap, human dignity deficit, HIV/lethal diseases and ecological degradation?.....................Download the full article in pdf attachment (below)

Pancaran matahari yang mengandungi cahaya dan haba adalah sumber penting membekalkan tenaga kepada kehidupan di Bumi.  Tenaga suria ini tidak terhad kepada tumbuhan untuk melakukan proses fotosintesis, malah ia juga berguna untuk manusia menjana tenaga elektrik.  Sumber tenaga ini mudah didapati, sangat banyak, berterusan, bersih, percuma dan mesra alam.  Ia mempunyai kelebihan dalam menangani kekurangan penjana kuasa konvensional berasaskan bahan api fosil yang bergantung kepada sumber arang batu yang terhad......................Download the full article in pdf attachment (below)

Tuesday, 22 November 2016 11:00

Solar energy can improve nation's wellbeing

Solar radiation from the sun is an important source of life since it contains basic energy in the form of light and heat. Solar energy is not only limited to plants to carry out the photosynthesis process, it can also generate electricity. The resource is abundant, clean, free, replenishable naturally and environmentally friendly.....................Download the full article in pdf attachment (below)

My brain nearly shut down after my last article on life after death in which I was connecting dots between science and medicine, the scriptures, mysticism and what have you. And I didn’t get the mental rest I needed. I think I should ask Arif Nizami my editor to give me four weeks leave to recuperate before there is a complete shutdown, both mental and physical. Or maybe I can write every fortnight until I descend back into the depths of the stupidity, cruelty and avarice of this world’s politics, economics, legal systems and every other systems, doctrines, social and political constructs and yes, religions, by which humankind or Homo sapiens specifically, for all ‘homo’ species are human. The jewel of God’s creation, as He calls........... Download the full article in pdf attachment (below)

Tuesday, 20 August 2013 00:00

The future of science

WE are grateful to science for its discoveries and inventions. Scientific research has prolonged life and eased communication and travel. For its contribution to economies and culture, science is so central to national security, economic development, and identity. The traditional scientific superpowers, the United States, Japan and Western Europe still lead the field. However, an increasingly multi-polar scientific world is shaping. Countries with notable increase in investment and scientific productivity include China, India, Brazil and South Korea. Science is by now a global enterprise. Employing more than seven million researchers worldwide, it is funded by the combined research and development of around US$1,000 (RM3,300) billion in 2011..................Download the full article in pdf attachment (below)

Saturday, 21 May 2011 10:38

Science is key to sustained innovation

INNOVATION has attracted a lot of attention lately. Ever since the prime minister launched the country's transformation plans, innovation has assumed centre stage in public discussion. Many are more aware of the strategic role of innovation in nation-building. More people now know innovation can be a potent tool for wealth creation. To tap into the new business opportunities that will emerge in the coming years, innovation will prove to be indispensable............ Download the full article in pdf attachment (below)


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