Reflections from Technology and World Change

This is entry that is for my journal entry at the class forum. By no means that it is plagiarised. I do not like the length of the entry though. 🙁

Term 3A, Technology and World Change. The first module of my tertiary education in SMU. Like all firsts, it has left me deep impressions in numerous ways. As this being a personal reflective journal, it consists of my personal views and not of my group’s.

Being in the lecture-tutorial system for 3 years (I retained my first year in JC) and despite of having 2 classrooms in my JC modelled after SMU’s famed seminar room, I did not have many opportunities to participate in seminar-styled lessons. Pamela Lim’s class structure is certainly a breakaway from the abovementioned system. I do realise, however, that each professor has his/her own way of conducting lesson. Still, it does little harm to use her lessons as a yardstick.

In most lessons, we will have break-out sessions and in-class presentations. We would spend 30 minutes to do ad-hoc research and hammering out the details of the presentation. Following this, we would have 5 minutes to do a presentation. The topics were chosen based on the group presentation(s) of the day and class participation.

The 30 minutes were used to sort out the disparate views and opinions on the question that individual members have on what to present. Not everyone can agree on the views to be presented. Having this much time, we need to reach consensus fast. Even so, we barely able to complete the slides on time and most of the time, it would be a rushed job. We have to think on the ball due to the limited presentation time, the lack of preparation time that we usually enjoy for the group presentation. It also highlights the importance of class participation. This requires quick evaluation and reaction to the discussions in class.

There are takeaways from this structure. We learn to agree to disagree. There are always points of contention, however it is essential to realise that arguing over such matters is time consuming and may not be efficient in such a tight timeframe. Awareness of time and deadlines is important. No matter how tight it is, a rough idea, at the very least, is needed on time management and planning.

Class participation is obviously an important component for our grading. However, this module makes me realised that it is beyond just grading. Being a seminar-style lesson, we have to open our mouth. Otherwise, it would turn into just another lecture, as demonstrated in the lesson when we had to cover chapters eight and nine. Of course, talking only is not effective alone; we have to offer constructive feedback. On hindsight, it would be better for me to take extra notice on the conversation generated in class. It is different from one-to-one conversing of ideas.

At the start of the module, I always thought that theory is always something dead and has little relevance in the real world. I was wrong. The TWC summit made me realise that it does help to know theory.

We had Ryan Lee of XMI, Kalyan Takru of iTwin and Janice Leong of NCS coming together to share with the 80 odd students, more than half being year 0s, about their experience as a successful entrepreneur, a budding entrepreneur and a corporate entrepreneur. At the very best, it was a sharing of minds and a great time to establish our fledging network.

It opened my mind to the application and the non-application of theory. Theories always try to quantify the real world experience. To some extent it works. Still, we cannot replace experience with theory. Kalyan had shared that IPRs are not that useful in stopping copycats, which is contrary to what the textbook idealised. Instead, he shared that it was useful in the chase for money from venture capitalists. This is a point that the textbook did not highlight. I realise that both theory and experience are equally important. To a certain extent, I guess I will be utilising theory at internships and ultimately at work and at the same time try to reconcile both theory and experience together.

It was a two-way communication during the summit. I was pleasantly surprised by the questions asked from the floor. The unanswered questions from the Q&A time were not held back by us during the tea session. Personally, I did not have the opportunity to raise my questions as there were others who asked them before me. I realised that other than the resources that were posted up, I would have to read more on the person’s and the products’, that each has, background so as to offer unique questions.

I mentioned about networking, and this was repeatedly emphasised during normal class time and the summit. Contacts are indeed useful, in the future. Although it may seem redundant now, it will be handy in the future. My group interviewed Paddy Tan of BAK2U for the group presentation on technical entrepreneur and their sources of funding. It was then I realised how essential it is to network. I knew Paddy through a gathering of like-minded people years back. Despite of not having much time physical interaction time, contact was maintained and hence it was relatively easier to ask for an interview. Before this, I did not know what to do with name cards. Now I do: keep them and take note of the person’s job, abilities and experience. They may be in need in the future.

Group presentation for us is a week worth of research and searching for sources. During this time, we had to organise the flow of presentation. 30 minutes of class time was dedicated to show our fruits of labour.

There were many processes that we had. But few particularly stand out: presentation. Presentation, regardless of whether it is 30 minutes or 5 minutes, is presentation.

However to me, the 30 minutes presentation always seemed like an hour to me. Not that my fellow group mates have bad presentation skills. Rather it is me. As Lip Kai and Linus had noted, I was quite nervous for all, if not most, of the presentation. Upon reflecting, I guess that it is due to my lack of confidence and to some extent, self-esteem. Knowing that this will be handicap in future presentations and work life, I resolve to raise my confidence and self-esteem. Joining a Toastmasters club probably will help.

Another point to worry is whether our presentation is cohesive enough. Does the class understand what we are presenting? The takeaway from this would probably be that during rehearsals, it would be good to see from a third person’s point of view, better yet if there is a non-member present!

There are many lessons, other than innovation: the process, the importance that I have taken away from this 1 and half months of lessons. It is too many to list. However, I believe that this is a stepping into my university life in SMU. Thank you, Pamela.

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