KL, Malaysia

COLAB Undergrad Roadmap

For the past year or so, we’ve been working towards creating a collaborative environment that can help undergrad students achieve their true potential in CS through augmented learning. 

The idea is pretty simple: put a sufficiently large group of enthusiastic students together, give them little nudges in the right direction and let them learn from the best of the best. 

At FAST NUCES Peshawar Campus, a prototype of this effort is known as COLAB. We started COLAB back in October 2017. Students of all batches were inducted through informal interviews. They are not expected to produce any artefact: no project, no deadlines. The only requirement is that they give time to COLAB and sit together. 

We do however, create a semi-formal plan that is aimed to provide nudges in the right direction. Through this post, I aim to provide the current status of this plan. We will discuss the plan around the semesters these students have in their four year study period. At the moment, I will share the plan and inshaallah, in the future, I might come back and add in the rationale of all the suggestions. 

Learning How to Learn

I’ve just started with another Coursera course — this one about learning in general. The course is called Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects. It’s actually a fairly easy going course, as far as I can see. The assignments and quizzes are fairly straight forward for the most part but the important bit is that the instructors share their life experiences about learning. I hope to be able to get through this course — I have enough ambition that I’ve even signed up for the paid “Signature Track” version of the course.

One important mental tool that I found really interesting is how to use the diffused thought model to get new ideas regarding difficult to solve problems. It’s best explained in the videos through Edison’s example: He would sit on his chair and let his hand hang on a side — while holding a few ball bearings in it. He would then relax and let his mind wander, drifting off towards sleep. The mind would shift to diffused thinking and would eventually find some new avenue to explore to help solve the issue at hand. This usually happens when you’re about to fall asleep — and that is where the ball bearings come into play. They would fall down creating a bit of a racket pulling him back from sleep so that he could grasp the fledging ideas and put them on paper. Cool trick!


This post will provide a way for students of HCI (Fall 07 – FAST-NU) to keep track of their results throughout the semester. Quiz/assignment scores and exam grades will be available through the spreadsheet embedded below. It will be your responsibility to bookmark these pages and visit the pages after exams to see your official score. If you have any problems/concerns, let me know through email. Commenting on this post is enabled but should only be used in case you have suggestions for improvement of this system. Do not post anything about your scores. I will not answer any such queries here.


Video Lectures Uploaded

For those who are interested in the activities of SERG but can’t come over to the end of the world (Phase 7 in Hayatabad), here’s a resource that you might benefit from. Video lectures of workshops conducted by SERG members are being uploaded online on different services. These will invariably be free and you can view them online if you have a reasonable internet connection. See the list here.

The hapennings…

Well, it’s been a long time but I’m finally back. The reasons for such a long absence are countless but boil down to just one: I got lazy.

Anyway, here’s what I’ve been working on lately:

  • Formal Mathematics (Set theory and logic)
  • Isabelle (automated theorem prover)
  • LaTeX (lovely, lovely typesetting engine. I don’t need a word processor any more)
  • My MS thesis
  • My MS research publication (more on this later)
  • My “Software Engineering Education” paper – that one’s going to be published by IEEE inshallah very soon.
  • And moving my stuff on to linux. I have to live with my conscious

Well, enough for the time being.

MIT Video Lectures

I’m always surprised when someone tells me that MIT’s OCW is not free. It stands for “Open Courseware” for God sake!

Anyway, I’ve been studying Linear Algebra and Differential Geometry from the Maths section and of course SICP from Computer Science.

Just recently, I found audio lectures for Psychology and I must say, even though I had no visual, I could tell that the guy teaching was good. I didn’t think an audio lecture could be so interesting.

Why do I bother with these lectures? Well, some may say I have nothing better to do. (They would be right to some extent, by the way.) Actually, I take my job seriously and If my job’s going to be teaching, I’m determined to make it as good as I can. These lectures are a great way of learning how to interact with a class and to learn new ways of conveying ideas.  I’ve already learned a lot from SICP and I’m learning every day from Linear Algebra and Differential Geometry.

So please, stop calling me a nut. *sob*