Exploring apps for education

(Above) Example of education apps that can be found online. From left to right: Udemy, Duolingo, Photomath, Udacity. Screencaptured from Google Play.

In the not so distant past, mobile apps were mostly popular for gaming and entertainment content.

However, due to the rapid advancement in mobile technology, apps now cover every industry including banking, retail, airlines, and ridesharing services.

Nowadays, apps are even used for education, as one can easily find various education apps such as Khan Academy, Lynda, Photomath, Udacity and Duolingo for smartphones.

While some may argue that spending too much time on the phone and being highly dependent on technology can be a bad thing, apps are opening numerous possibilities and advancement in the education sector.

According to research by the University of Warwick, mobile phone apps can revolutionise learning in developing countries where educational resources are less accessible.

The research included an e-learning app for math and science called M-Thuto – containing class notes, access to online learning materials, quizzes and textbook content – for schools in South Africa to supplement classroom teaching.

It was found that the students in the research project were able to engage better in class and also performed better, compared to the traditional textbook method.

Mobile apps are able to provide multi-modal pathways by offering video, audio and presentations where students can engage with the content thus helping them to understand and retain more information.

Besides making learning fun and interactive, mobile apps are available round the clock, which helps students to improve performance and enjoy the learning process.

And as apps are available anywhere and anytime, learning is thus not confined to the classroom.

On the other hand, there are also apps out there for students to stay updated on campus events, schedules, fees, assignment deadlines, and meetings.

Apart from being active users of apps, you could also venture to become app developers, like the 13-year-old Sarawakian who designed an app for students to view the content of their textbooks.

Perhaps more youths could be inspired by this to create apps for all sorts of services that could increase our productivity and improve our lives, as well as contribute towards the growth of Sarawak’s digital economy.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (Azam) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, visit this link: http://bit.ly/2mKwYt5

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Innovation and the digital economy

At SarawakYES! we’ve been emphasising to young Sarawakians on the need to innovate as it is crucial in both technical and non-technical fields, as well as in entrepreneurship.

With Sarawak committed to achieve rapid development through a digital economy, innovation has become an even more important key in every economic sector not only in ensuring sustainability, but also in contributing to the state’s socioeconomic growth.

As a term, innovation has been described in various ways, but it’s commonly defined as introducing new products or services that create commercial and/or social value not only for end users, but also for companies that develop them.

This can mean executing new ideas for new markets, enhancing existing products and services, or adopting previous innovations to a different industry or geographical segment.

The concept of innovation itself isn’t recent, for certain innovations have come to redefine conventions over the past several millennia, be it the discovery of fire for heat generation or the use of oral and written languages for better communication and record-keeping.

Around the 19th century, at the height of the first Industrial Revolution, innovation brought forth the transformation of processes from hand to machine, modernisation of industries, and increasing utilisation of new energy and resources, which accelerated socioeconomic growth around the world.

Since then, with the rise of consumer culture, more patents, as well as stronger government support and focus on research and development, innovation is recognised as a vital ingredient in driving a nation’s modernisation and digitalisation.

Innovation, therefore, is critical in the digital economy; for Sarawak, this means creating new opportunities and discovering new resources capable of not only modernising economic sectors and boosting economic growth, but also elevating the livelihood of its people.

From a human capital perspective, greater emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM); technical and vocational education and training (TVET); and information communication technology (ICT) in education will enable Sarawak to build its own highly-skilled workers, who are innovative and creative.

Consequently, opportunities through the digital economy may also encourage more talents to stay and contribute to their home state with their skills and knowledge.

However, take note that innovation doesn’t just involve products and services; it also encompasses systems or processes that help an organisation, such as Toyota’s renowned production system.

Innovation also isn’t limited to within organisations; sometimes it derives from competitors, markets and even different industries, providing room for collaboration.

Essentially, be it a big corporation or a small start-up, innovation takes place everywhere, as long as innovators keep an open mind, ask the right questions, learn from their failures, and remain committed to bringing valuable ideas to life.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (Azam) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, visit this link: http://bit.ly/2zC9KI7

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Coding a digital-ready community

Comparable to writing poems, coding can be seen as an art form in itself.

Coding or computer programming is a process of writing code in programming languages such as Python, Java, Structured Query Language (SQL) and C++ to instruct computers to perform a function, thus making it possible to create computer software, apps and websites.

From the apps on your phone and the countless websites you visit every day, all were created through coding.

However, while most of us are users of software and technologies, how many of us actually understand how they all work let alone create them?

As Sarawak is now heading towards a digital economy, coding and computer literacy can be seen as the key drivers in preparing the state’s youths into becoming digital-savvy individuals to fuel the needs of the industries in the digital ecosystem.

In some parts of the world, countries such as the United Kingdom, Italy and Finland are incorporating coding as part of the curriculum in schools.

In Malaysia, the Coding@Schools programme is seen as vital for students in the national school curriculum and institutions of higher learning as it encourages creative thinking and will enable students to benefit from the digital economy in the near future.

Coding incorporates computational thinking by encouraging youths to approach problems through analytical and structured ways, thus nurturing their problem-solving and logical thinking skills as well as forming a creative and innovative mindset.

It is an essential skill to empower students so that they might one day become creators in contributing towards the digital economy and not just consumers in the digital ecosystem, especially since the prospects in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) field are expected to expand globally.

For information technology (IT) related fields, among the professions that require coding skills are software applications developers, computer systems analysts, web developers, computer programmers and computer systems engineers.

However, graduates outside the IT field with the knowledge and skills in coding will also find themselves in a favourable position to score employment opportunities, particularly in the tech industry.

While some of you may not end up becoming programmers or web developers, it is nevertheless an essential skill that can be applied to multiple areas and not just limited to computer science alone.

For example, entrepreneurs might find it useful as it presents countless opportunities by offering innovative services that can be customised to various clients’ needs.

And as more and more youths actively engage themselves in the digital ecosystem, coding should be encouraged and promoted even more, as it is one of the basic and indispensable skills to prepare a digital economy-ready community in Sarawak.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (Azam) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, visit this link: http://bit.ly/2A7fnxa

Photo by Lewis Ngugi from Pexels.

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The dos and don’ts of handling criticism

The digital economy demands innovation and creativity, but when you present ideas that are considered experimental or previously unheard of, chances are you will face some criticism.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise; after all before they were giants, innovations introduced by the likes of Google, Apple and Amazon were (and still are) met with the occasional scepticism.

Criticism in general comes from everywhere at any time in our life, and we also tend to get critical when we see actions, behaviours or decisions that challenge our perceptions and beliefs.

However, it’s important to note that not all criticisms are destructive.

In fact, some that are constructive can be a guide for change, pointing out mistakes and offering suggestions for future endeavours.

What matters most is how we approach criticisms of any kind – whether by valuing them in order to grow and become better individuals or by letting them drag us down and causing unnecessary stress and aggression.

Here are some dos and don’ts on handling criticism and while they might be easier said than done, you’ll find things are more manageable when you keep an open mind and acknowledge the reality that people will criticise you regardless of your actions.

DO:

  • Take your time and focus on the message behind the criticism instead of the tone, because while it might appear confrontational on the surface, the points could actually hold water;
  • Rationalise criticisms from the critics’ points-of-view. You can, for example, discuss things with someone who really knows you and is honest with you, or have an open and sincere conversation with the critics themselves for a clearer insight;
  • Remain confident, which involves having a better understanding of yourself and accepting your strengths and weaknesses so that you won’t be affected by criticisms easily; and
  • Ignore criticisms that are off base, because your time is better spent on those that provide room for learning and improvement.

DON’T:

  • Get emotional and react at once, because your initial reaction may not reflect how you truly approach criticisms;
  • Be too sensitive, because while it’s common to react negatively, such attitude towards criticisms can affect your relationship with other people, as well as your personal wellbeing;
  • Get defensive by making excuses before your critics can even present their opinion, otherwise you’ll lose the opportunity of listening to suggestions that might be worth exploring; and
  • Perceive criticism as an attack to you as a person. Instead, treat it as a feedback for the actions or decisions you’ve taken (constructive) or a distraction from your work or goals (destructive).

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (Azam) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, visit this link: http://bit.ly/2zX9zHe

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Embracing Industry 4.0

Picture: Bosch

The radical technological advancements happening around us is blurring the lines between the physical and digital world, and especially now as we are shifting towards the Industry 4.0 revolution.

As this fourth industrial revolution is developing rapidly and influencing economic development globally, Sarawak is also moving in the same direction as we embrace the Digital Economy.

Shaped by the integration of technical advances such as big data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT), Industry 4.0 can be seen as a digital transformation applied to the manufacturing and services sector.

For those in the manufacturing sector, Industry 4.0 is a big turning point as automation and smoother flow of data exchange brings tremendous change.

However, there are fears that technology, especially with greater adoption of AI, would take away high-paying jobs from people.

Apart from that, there are concerns over cyber-attacks as security is still an issue in terms of protecting people’s privacy and confidentiality.

In an era that demands higher productivity, increased customization and greater flexibility, some might wonder how Industry 4.0 will provide opportunities for our youths.

According to the World Economic Forum’s ‘Future of Jobs’ survey, one-third of the desired core skill sets of most occupations in 2020 will be different from today’s requirements.

Youths must realise that working in Industry 4.0 will shift the focus more on things like supervision of processes and optimisation activities, instead of manual work.

Thus, emphasis for the Industry 4.0 worker will be on skills such as programming and managing automated systems.

These days, it is also becoming more common to see youths, particularly in the tech start-up sector, building mobile apps for example, which leads them to be job creators instead of job seekers.

As we are now transitioning from a labour-driven economy to a knowledge-driven society, early exposure to ICT education at every level will help prepare our youths for Industry 4.0.

And while some youth may not be directly involved in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) field of education or workforce, it is recommended that they still equip themselves with the necessary digital skills and knowledge through online courses or get experienced mentors.

The most important thing to remember is that the question is not if Industry 4.0 is coming, but how quickly.

As such, our youths must be prepared to embrace it or risk being left behind by the new technologies coming up every day.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (AZAM) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, visit this link: http://bit.ly/2l310qS

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Establishing a digital foundation with computer science

We’ve talked about the essentials of mastering technology as everyday individuals, from having a basic understanding of technology-related skills to being responsible in utilising them.

But if you’d like to take a step further and come up with solutions to solve computing-related problems, then how about giving computer science a shot?

Generally defined as the study of computers and design of computational systems, computer science has grown into a multidisciplinary field, providing the fundamental knowledge and skills needed for specialisations in computing and IT, including software engineering, computer networking, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity.

Knowledge and skills such as programming languages (e.g. C++, Java, Python), software development and networking systems gained from computer science would then lead to creating innovative solutions to challenges found in other sciences, engineering, business and many other fields through the application of computing technology.

In fact, computer science, along with IT and ICT, has become a necessity in today’s world, leading to numerous technological advancements that have modernised economic sectors, accelerated a nation’s growth and especially transformed the way we live.

Its contribution is so pronounced that countries around the world have adopted its elements into their school curricula; Malaysia, for instance, introduced computational thinking and computer science into its primary and secondary school syllabi in January this year, with coding expected to be included next year.

Meanwhile, in developing Sarawak’s digital economy, the state government through tertiary institutions is encouraging young Sarawakians to study STEM courses, including computer science and its related specialisations.

This is to equip people, especially the youth, with the necessary skills to take on higher skilled jobs that would be created as a result of the digital economy, especially when more businesses and organisations adopt digital technology into their business operations.

Having said that, computer science may not be for everyone, for it requires great interest, mental capability, and perseverance to tackle complex problems using logic, reasoning and creativity.

Given the rapid change in technology, being able to update and adapt to the latest technological knowledge and skills are crucial in order not to be left out.

If you’re keen in a career in computer science, know that the field offers a wide range of options from software engineer, to data analyst, network system administrator, information security analyst, game developer, and mobile app developer.

Jobs in computer science, however, may differ depending on the company and even the industry, so it would be helpful to do some research on the various industries and companies, their job positions, descriptions and scopes to find one that suits you so that you would have a fruitful working experience.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (Azam) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, visit this link: http://bit.ly/2wV04GD

Photo by Kevin Ku from Pexels.

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Millennials and money matters

As a young working adult, managing your finances may seem daunting and even impossible at times.

It’s easy for people to blame this situation as simply a case of millennials having a lavish lifestyle or spending excessively.

However, the rising cost of living is among the challenges that could affect how you manage your personal finances.

While some factors may be out of your control, you can still determine how much you save and spend every month, and this could be crucial in helping you accomplish your financial goals.

First of all, you have to be honest with yourself every time you’re about to spend your hard-earned money; make sure you analyse whether you really need something or if you just want it.

For example, do you really need to drink that fancy coffee which costs RM12?

As you start your career, try to stretch your ringgit as far as you can. You don’t have to spend a small fortune to have fun so look for and take part in activities that require little to no money.

Remember, by spending less, you will have more to save and invest.

Speaking of savings, before you think of saving for that vacation you’ve always wanted, make sure you save for something more important first: an emergency fund.

This emergency fund, which you should save in the bank, should be at least six months’ worth of your monthly spending.

You never know what your financial situation will be next year or two years from now, but having an emergency fund in place will at least be of help to you when getting back on your feet again.

Worryingly, according to the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), 75 per cent of Malaysians find it difficult to save RM1,000 for emergency needs.

And if you’re now in your 20s, it may seem like forever before you reach retirement age.

However, it is never too early to consider planning for that time when your days of working are over.

EPF once again provides another sobering statistic as it estimates that 55-year-old retirees would need at least RM228,000 in their EPF savings to be able to withdraw RM950 a month, based on a life expectancy of 75 years.

The good news for millennials is that you still have a long time to save and invest for a comfortable retirement, and there are also a lot more resources now to learn about managing your own finances.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (Azam) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, visit this link: http://bit.ly/2xsvq6M

Image Source: Parade

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The essence of a digital hub

(Above) Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg (centre) during his tour of TEGAS Digital Innovation Hub. For more info on the hub, click/tap here.

By now, you’ve probably heard of the TEGAS Digital Innovation Hub (TDIH), which aims to turn Kuching into a centre for start-ups, technology and innovation together with incubation centre iCube Innovation, and Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre’s (MaGIC) co-working space at Borneo 744.

But have you ever wondered what a ‘digital hub’ really is?

A digital hub can be described as a focal point or centre of technologically-driven activities, usually equipped with shared workspaces and technical facilities that foster innovation, creativity and collaboration.

Many countries are setting up digital hubs to take advantage of the benefits they could bring into their respective economies, including job creation, business growth, talent development, exposure to the global market and enrichment of their own digital ecosystem.

Last April, the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) launched the Malaysia Digital Hub as part of the country’s Year of Internet Economy initiative to boost digital economy contribution to our nation’s gross domestic product up to 20 per cent by 2020 and become a hub for tech start-ups.

However, for digital hubs to flourish, an article from the Standard Social Innovation Review outlined four dimensions that can be used to measure their feasibility and limitations, namely their ability to build collaborative communities; attract diverse members; facilitate creativity and collaboration within physical and digital spaces; and localise global entrepreneurial culture.

So, if you’re hungry for a chance to work with people from different fields and come up with innovative tech products and services, then a digital hub like TDIH would be a good place to start.

The precursor to the upcoming Digital Village at Sama Jaya, TDIH intends to serve as a platform to nurture talents, support entrepreneurs and create innovators for Sarawak.

Managed by Tabung Ekonomi Gagasan Anak Bumiputera Sarawak (TEGAS) and located at Icom Square, the hub occupies an area of 5,100 square feet complete with high-speed broadband connectivity of up to 100Mbps, co-working space, conference room, event space, mixed reality corner, sky booth, sound production room, 3D printing, pantry and chill area.

It also offers start-ups the opportunity for expansion, funding and facilitation opportunities, entrepreneurial-friendly ecosystem and talent development programmes.

To further enrich the hub’s ecosystem, Tegas is collaborating with various strategic partners including Shell, MaGIC, SME Corp, Swinburne and Media Prima Labs for its #InnovateSarawak campaign that aims to promote creativity and innovation, as well as provide growth opportunities for start-ups through strategic collaborations.

With plans for more hubs similar to TDIH to be established across Sarawak, young Sarawakians like you, whether from urban and rural areas, will be able to innovate and create new products and services that can contribute to your home state and even the world over.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (Azam) Sarawak-to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, visit this link: http://bit.ly/2yhIwZF

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Hopping into the gig economy

As the job market becomes more competitive, we are witnessing more and more fresh graduates, and even students, dabbling in freelance work.

Freelancing is actually part of the ‘gig economy’, which describes an environment where temporary positions are available for independent workers.

‘Gig workers’ or freelancers can be found commonly working in the food delivery service or driving service, as online contributors, or even tutors.

For Sarawak, the most visible gig workers can be found driving for ride-hailing services such as Grab and Uber.

However, these days, we see a lot of gig workers who have also infiltrated into white-collar professions such as in the healthcare, finance and technology sectors.

For these professionals, the obvious advantage is the flexibility and convenience that working in a gig economy provides them.

With the digital tools at their disposal, these professionals can provide IT services or financial advice and consultation without even leaving their home.

For those in healthcare, professionals in the gig economy can take advantage of telemedicine by speaking to their patients through the phone or videoconference.

Thus, the gig economy is also seen as an opportunity to increase the productivity of unemployed citizens to contribute to the nation’s economy.

In fact, The Economist highlighted that 162 million people in America and Europe, or more than 20 per cent of the working age population, worked outside normal employment last year, and that half of those relied on gigs for their primary income, and happily so.

However, as tempting as freelancing might sound, there are a few things that one should carefully consider. It is highly recommended that thorough research is done before participating fully in the gig economy.

For instance, gig workers might find themselves facing unpredictable income, due to the economy and job market conditions, and having little to no employee benefits resulting in low payment and perhaps no retirement schemes.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES!-an initiative driven by Faradale-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (Azam) Sarawak-to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, visit this link: http://bit.ly/2jTKCs4

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Enriching the future through bioengineering

Biological engineering or bioengineering may be relatively new as a defined field, but look closer and you’ll realise how it is simply another means of addressing life science-related challenges.

Indeed, many countries around the world, including Malaysia, have recognised bio-based fields like bioengineering as key drivers in ensuring sustainable economic growth and enriching the wellbeing of the global population.

For these nations, bio-based fields’ integrated application has enabled, for instance, the use of renewable resources, enhancement of agro-based industries and innovation in healthcare products and services.

Bioengineering itself is broad and versatile, combining elements of traditional engineering, science, mathematics and technology to analyse and solve vital problems affecting biology and medicine, although it has expanded to other fields including agriculture, energy and environment.

Given its interdisciplinary nature, it offers a wide variety of career options in bio-based industries, as well as academic, private and government sectors, providing bioengineers the chance to specialise in areas such as cell and tissue engineering, robotics and biomaterials.

The constantly evolving nature of the bioengineering industry also provides opportunities for entrepreneurship, encouraging start-ups to innovate new products that would satisfy unmet needs.

In line with its digital economy agenda, the state government intends to capitalise on bioengineering to boost growth in sectors such as agriculture, energy and manufacturing.

Through Yayasan Sarawak’s recent announcement of increasing its study loans and scholarships to RM100 million, it hopes to entice young Sarawakians to take on scientific- and technical-driven fields like bioengineering to become skilfully and knowledgeably competitive on a global scale while contributing to the state’s development.

And so the first step that you, as young Sarawakians, need to take if you’re keen on becoming a bioengineer is to ask yourself if you have what it takes to be one.

For example, are you interested in engineering and science? Are you willing to carry out independent research? Or are you prepared to tackle tough, real-world problems?

If you answered ‘yes’ to all these questions, the next step on your journey to become a bioengineer will be to look for a university programme that allows you to conduct research from the start for early exposure.

During your studies, you’ll need to learn to focus, to be patient and to be ethical, especially in doing your research to instil a strong sense of discipline, honesty and accountability in yourself.

Also, soft skills are important in bioengineering, especially communications and teamwork, as you might be collaborating with individuals from different fields.

Essentially, keep yourself updated with the latest scientific and engineering discoveries so you can learn and incorporate all the new concepts when coming up with your own potentially beneficial solutions for the future.

This is a weekly column by SarawakYES!-an initiative driven by Faradale-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (Azam) Sarawak-to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

This article first appeared on The Borneo Post, visit this link: http://bit.ly/2hbobOd

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