The humble journey to The Creator: After all, we are just a tiny bubble in the ocean


July 2018


background beautiful blossom calm waters
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This is a long email I wrote to all UTP staff today of my own self-reflection on training and learning


Assalamualaikum wrt & Hello

Greetings from CETaL

I have not written via email for quite sometimes, but I would like to share some reflection with everyone of you just to keep the mood enlightened. Four years ago, I have been tasked to lead our brand new centre, CETaL, an unknown territory. Just so you know, my background is always chemical engineering since my degree until my PhD, and I had never been exposed to any of certification of effective teaching and learning, what else any certification of education. I was in a blurry state for quite sometimes when I was given this task, and really 4 years ago, I started from zero. I didn’t know much, only to know that, yes I do have passion to ensure my students did well in the class, and I dig out all the opportunities to get to know the experts out there, so they are able to share some insights with me. From there I learn how to look into this business holistically.

I met several experts who are really passionate into teaching and learning. I remember quite clearly when I first attended a training on active learning, there were not more than 10 people who turned up. But I went through the training for the next 2 days, and I was very fascinated with the scholarly practice being shared. When I teach in the class, I straight away implemented some of the techniques, just to get the right feeling of doing it. Slowly I developed some materials that can be used to support my Active Learning approach.

When the second similar training offered, I encouraged my colleagues to attend the training (this time we had more than 20 participants), and I attended it for the second time. From there, I learnt what I have done well, and what I can improve. There are few times of my ‘aahhh’ moments, where I actually discovered that, there are times I did wrong unintentionally and have to correct that. When the third similar training kicked in, where our previous DVCA, Prof Ahmad Fadzil Hani joined, I also joined the training fully, but this time around to observe how the facilitators, Prof Khairiyah and Dr Syed Ahmad Hilmi conducted the training.

To cut short, I had attended two times cooperative learning, two times PBL training and two times flipped classroom training fully, just to understand what I did right, and what I did wrong, and what I missed to scaffold my students. I believe I still can learn more if I re-attend the trainings. My point here is, attending training for one time, may not be sufficient for us to make our practice solid. There are times where we miss some points, and if we revisit it back, then we may realise what we did wrong, and what can be improved. But on top of that is of course the passion to keep improving ourselves to become a better educator. We cannot simply become excellent for the first time we attended the training, what else if we never attended training and claim ourselves to be excellent educator. Additionally, if we attend the training, but we delay in practicing it, we will lose the skills that we learnt.

It is true that some of us have the talent as the educator, but research has shown that talent alone is not sufficient to bring the excellence in us, but more importantly for us to acquire grit, being resilience, keep improving self without feeling being forced, but liking to do it passionately.

Thank you for your time reading my self-reflection.




Many of us know why we need to change the way how we teach at schools and higher institutions for example to align with 21st century requirements, yet many of us do not know how to do that. Despite many theories of teaching strategies have been introduced for the past 40 years, we rarely looked into the scholarly approach, but we think we could devise something from our own idea.

The ideas of collaborative, cooperative, team based, active or problem based learning have been there for the past 30-40 years, but the educationists perhaps did not sufficiently lead as to translate these approaches into mass action. These strategies, have been long researched and proven in terms of its effectiveness but it is only scattering around the articles in journals and proceedings.

So what is 21st century learning? using ipad, smartphone, tablets and laptop in the class, do presentation with technology, talk to each other etc etc?

NO, that is just a small pieces of the big jigsaw.


At UTP, we believed that in order for us to attain 21st century learning skills, we should move from teacher centred towards students centred learning. The transformation from teacher centred towards students centred learning happened since year 2015. In 2016, we carefully researched and selected some pedagogical strategies that fit our requirements to produce future ready graduates. All the academic staff are compulsory to attend active learning training (2 days training) as this is our base and fundamental training, to strengthen the why and how, for which they also learn about supporting and scaffolding the students learning, understanding students learning behaviour together with learning on how to plan their classroom activities. We introduce the staff with BOOKS END MODEL and alongside the staff would learn for at least 20 techniques of Active Learning, for which you could find more than hundred from the internet sources, but knowing how to devise the technique is important. Then, we encourage the staffs to conduct the approach in their class for at least a semester before they could attend the next training i.e. on cooperative learning.


The staff could further enhance their knowledge by attending flipped classroom training while from time to time we expose the faculty members with some tools and technologies that could help their delivery using active or cooperative learning strategies. This is where technology enhanced active learning comes in. After the staff had carefully and successfully implemented some of these strategies, only then we invited them to attend PBL, which is much more complex, not only about crafting the case study or problems to be given to the students, but also to learn on facilitating the students effectively. We simply do not encourage our staff to jump straight away to PBL before trying other simpler approaches, because we believe, this does not only make the students felt traumatised and on top of that the staffs are not able to motivate back the students, yet even the staff themselves may face trauma, which stopping them from further conducting students centred learning (SCL).


Once the staff had successfully attended all these trainings, we invited some of them who are very passionate into teaching and learning because we want to groom them as the trainers and the change agents at the department. We wanted to make sure they become visible and empowered, and not only able to give training inside UTP, but be able to be the champion of of these initiatives. We also encourage them to participate in several exhibitions on T&L to showcase their innovations i.e. when they had started to blend their pedagogical approach with some new technology and tool. In addition, we encourage them to collect data be it from the validated instruments for survey, the students’ reflection and the students’ learning attainments, which they would later publish their work be it in a T&L conference or any related journals. We also encourage the staff to apply for Scholarships of Teaching and Learning grants (SoTL), which are available annually so they can think of what kind of pedagogical strategies they wanted to use in their class and what are the objectives of their research as to collect meaningful data.


Alhamdulillah from our recent survey, we found that about 50-60% of our staff are already starting to believe in the transformation from teacher centred towards SCL. There are yet still many things to be done but we are happy with the current progress at UTP. Insha Allah by the end of this year, perhaps we’ll be able to have our own Virtual Reality center (as for now we already have several classes for technology enhanced flipped classroom, cooperative learning and PBL), so our VR can be coupled with several pedagogical strategies adopted at UTP. We are also actively training not only our academic staff, but we are extending it to our support staff, Graduate Assistants (GA) and some of the UG and foundation students who are the change agents at the students level to make them in the loop and feel belonging to this transformation.

It is an exciting, thrilling and enjoying days ahead.

You just want to start? Let’s try active learning first.

Wanted to know more, email us at or



Saya bersembang di whatsapp dengan seorang adik, kenalan Sabah (saya harini cerita pasal orang Sabah saja, haha) yang saya pernah ceritakan dalam satu post saya bulan April yang lalu. Insha Allah tak lama lagi dia akan menjadi graduan. Tapi hari ini, ceritanya tidak kurang memeritkan perasaan saya.

Beliau aktif dalam sukan bolasepak di universitinya utara semenanjung, yang pastinya bukan UTP haha. Tapi dalam pasukannya, hanya dia sahaja yang belum Islam. Lawatan saya ke Sabah pun dulu menunjukkan masyarakatnya biasa sahaja dengan saudara mara dan jiran-jiran yang berbeza agama, tidak judgmental, tidak ada yang cuba menyisihkan antara satu sama lain. Aman, tenteram, bahagia.

Tapi sebentar tadi, dia mesej saya menceritakan ada di kalangan sahabat sepasukannya di universiti tempat dia belajar sekarang yang mempersoalkan dia, kenapa dia tak masuk Islam? Dia tanya kembali, kenapa? Alasan kawannya, yelah, dah kawan-kawan kau semua Islam, masuklah Islam. Lame excuse. Ini saya copy balik apa yang dia mesej pada saya

“Depa igt tukar agama lepas tu alhamdullilah ada saudara baru. Tp depa x tau mcm mana struggle org tu nak mendalami agama baru dia. Malah depa xbantu pun”

Keduanya dia beritahu ada seorang perempuan Muslim menyampaikan salam kepadanya, kemudian perkara ini terjadi..

“Hari ni ada budak perempuan kirim slm. Yang budak perempuan ni xtanya pun pasal agama saya, tapi tiba2 member balas kat perempuan tu yg saya ni bukan islam. Sampai mcm tu sekali depa letakkan perbezaan”

Atas alasan yang kawan-kawannya berikan supaya dia masuk Islam, dia cakap camni

“Saya fikir, saya berkawan dgn hang bukan sebab agama hang. Sebab hang tu manusia mcm sy. Sebab tu aku berkawan dengan hang”

Teman-teman sekalian, cuba letak diri kita sebagai seorang Muslim di kalangan 20 orang Kristian atau Buddha yang mengusik-usik kita bila nak masuk Kristian, apa perasaan kita?

Kalaulah kita pamerkan wajah Islam sebegini rupa, siapa yang nak masuk Islam? Sekurang-kurangnya saya bersyukur, adik tu masih mesej saya untuk menyatakan rasa kurang senangnya, masih ada tempat mengadu dan saya beritahu pada dia, tiada siapa pun yang berhak memaksa seseorang yang tidak Islam masuk agama Islam. Itu semua hidayah yang Allah jentik dan berikan kepada setiap seorang. Seyakin kita sebagai seorang Muslim, yakinkah kita akan mati sebagai seorang Muslim?

Kalau kita ada kawan yang belum Islam sekalipun, janganlah mainkan perasaan mereka. Mereka manusia seperti kita. Kadang-kadang kita yang jauhkan mereka dari Islam kerana kita nak sangat tunjuk kita yang superior. Tak ada langsung perasaan Islam sebagai rahmat untuk sekalian alam, rahmatan lil alamin.

Itulah yang terjadi di Malaysia ni juga, sebagai Muslim kita rasa berhak atas segala-galanya. Yang belum Islam ni tak layak pegang ketua hakim, tak layak pegang menteri undang-undang, dan tak layak pegang peguam negara. Kesemuanya dilabelkan. Wajah Islam apakah yang kita cuba pamerkan?

Salahkah mereka ini lahir di kalangan bukan Islam, di kalangan cina, India, Kadazan dan Dusun yang akhirnya kita menjadi zalim menidakkan hak-hak mereka sebagai manusia yang merdeka?

Kalaulah akhlak buruk yang kita pamerkan, bagaimana yang belum Islam ini akan minat dengan Islam? Kalaulah sikap judgmental yang kita pamerkan, siapa yang akan masuk Islam?

Masuk Islam bukanlah satu benda yang boleh dipaksa-paksa, ia semuanya kerja Allah Taala. Allah dah sebut dalam Surah Al-Baqarah ayat 256. Yang penting kita sebagai Muslim ni menjadi wasilah buat yang lain untuk menjadi Muslim juga. Tapi kalau kita sendiri tunjukkan contoh yang tak baik, akhirnya kita sendiri menjadi fitnah untuk Islam.

Ya kita memang excited kawan baik kita masuk Islam, tapi sedarilah bahawa ia adalah satu proses, bukan satu paksaan. Rapat dengan mereka dan santuni mereka bukan kerana kita ada niat tersembunyi, tetapi kerana keikhlasan sebuah persahabatan itu. Mungkin dengan asbab itulah hidayah Allah terjentik.

Santunilah mereka ini sebaiknya. Kerana mereka juga punyai jiwa, akal, hati dan perasaan seperti kita.

Pen off.

Really frustated.

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