The 31st of December. It’s the day when we revisit all the previous days of the year. In this post I revisit the 5 happiest things that happened to me in 2018 as a way to thank God for all good things.
So, my happiest happenings in 2018 are (not in any order):
I’ve transferred twice already to a completely different research area. My first area was artificial intelligence (AI): my PhD computer science dissertation involved the development of a machine learning (ML) algorithm that used knowledge as well as data for conceptual clustering. Then, I switched to software engineering (SE). Now–and, I hope, finally–I’m in information systems (IS) and games for learning (G4L).
What caused the changes in areas? Perceived impact on the country would probably be the main reason. When I was in AI, the country was not yet ready for it. I thought SE would be more useful and so I worked on software quality practices, but the country was not ready for that either. Now, in IS, I am using the grounded theory method (GTM) to understand how information technology (IT) is used (and misused) in the IT-enabled services industry (e.g., the BPO sector). From this I plan to propose ways to improve processes, technologies, and training for the said industry.
The International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS) is the most important conference in the area of information systems, so the acceptance of my paper (co-written with one of my PhD students, R. Lavilles) is one of my happiest happenings in 2018. Presenting it at the conference (and receiving great comments, especially from C. Urquhart) and attending the workshop of the AIS Special Interest Group on GTM (organized by N. Levina, who treated us to a lovely dinner) added further joy.
Next year’s ICIS will be in Munich. The last time I was in Germany was when I did postgrad work in Saarbruecken in my early 20s. So, maybe I’ll submit a paper to ICIS 2019!
From SE, I actually transferred not just to one area (IS) but two, the second being games for learning (G4L). One of my long-standing research interests lies in technology-enhanced learning (TEL)–this is a thread that cuts across much of my research. For a while, I thought that intelligent tutoring systems (ITS), which I applied my ML algorithm in, would be the answer to the lack of qualified teachers, until Gen Z appeared, with its preference for digital games and social media for learning.
Right now, I and one of my research groups are in the process of designing and comparing (a) quickly gamified math drills against (b) math lessons designed within a carefully constructed game world. Before commencing, we spent a month observing grade-4 mathematics classes, particularly at a resource-challenged school, where I hope we could help change for the better the life trajectories of financially challenged children.
When almost a decade ago I enrolled in the PhD in Education program at the Brother Andrew Gonzalez FSC College of Education (BAGCED), it never occurred to me that I would one day be called to lead it.
BAGCED has tremendous potential to help improve the state of education in the country. The graduate programs and certificates that we offer are taken by hundreds of principals and superintendents of schools and districts. The conferences and seminars that we organize (e.g., ARAL on action research) are attended by thousands of basic education teachers nationwide. Our research results have the potential to improve educational processes and policies.
I have a dream for BAGCED: inspired innovation for impact. I hope that I will be able to lay the foundation for this dream quickly.
4. San Francisco
ICIS 2018 was held in San Francisco, and though this was my third visit to the Golden Gate City, there were several new and happy experiences for me.
Second was buying a nice Ralph Lauren overcoat at 70% off at Macy’s. I’ve always wanted to have a nice overcoat, but I did not want to spend a lot of money on something that I would rarely use, given that I live in the tropics.
Third was spending a day at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA). Though I prefer the New York MOMA, there are so many art works to like at the SFMOMA, including the works of G. Richter.
5. Monthly Outings with Mom and Dad
Last but not the least of my happiest happenings in 2018 is not a single event but several events happening monthly, when I would take Mom and Dad out for lunch, shopping, and a haircut.
As I say goodbye to 2018 and welcome 2019, I thank God, who chose me before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4) to be part of the Light of the World (Matthew 5:14), for all His blessings.
And I thank my family, friends, and those whom I minister to, for their love.
Happy New Year!