Global Ambassador: Mohammad Shams Duha

Mohammad Shams Duha is from Bangladesh. Shams is pursuing his PhD in Learning Design and Technology. 

Ambassador Q & A (Questions and Answers)

Mohammad Shams Duha

Why did you choose Purdue?

Purdue is one of the best universities for engineering and technology in the world. Since my core research interest is the use of technology in education, I found Purdue as the best fit for me. Additionally, Purdue offered me the most prestigious fellowship of the college of education Andrews Fellowship.

Please briefly describe your research.

My primary research interest revolves around online teaching and learning. In other words, I explore how we can make online education more beneficial to students. The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us how important online learning can be, and I am glad that decades of research in this field has shown some paths in this unprecedented situation. Some of my secondary research interests are social media in education, microlearning, and human performance technology.

How did you decide what to study?

In 2003, at the age of fifteen, I wrote my first novel. Being refused by several publishers to publish my book, I made an attempt to send the PDF version of my book to as many email contacts as I had. I received numerous positive comments from them in such a short period of time due to the power of technology. I was able to disseminate information and receive responses in a matter of minutes, it was miraculous. Due to the positive feedback I received through my "e-book version", in 2006, Ittadi Granthya Prokash published my book. This was the first experience of many where I have directly witnessed the effectiveness of technology, which gradually solidified my interest to pursue a PhD. in Educational Technology.

What was your process for selecting a graduate school?

After deciding what to study (for my case, it is learning design and technology), I did a thorough research on the programs in the US that are related to the discipline. I visited their websites, looked at their faculty profiles, and explored the funding opportunities they had. Then, I made a short list of programs based on my initial research. Fortunately, I knew some doctoral students who were doing their PhDs in this area, and I also took their suggestions. Finally, I applied to seven programs, and I was accepted to five. Finally, I chose Purdue because of the faculty expertise and the fellowship they offered me.

What is your favorite fact about Purdue?

I have been reading about Neil Armstrong from my childhood through textbooks. And finally, I found that he is an alumnus of Purdue. I feel immensely proud because of the fact.

Where do you spend most of your time on campus?

I spend most of my time in my office room in Beering hall. During the summer, I also study in front of the Loeb fountain.

How did you decide where to live?

Since I have a kid, I decided to live in a family friendly housing. Many people recommended Purdue Village, and I requested a family housing at Purdue Village immediately after I had accepted the offer of admission. My wife and kid really love the place.

What does your typical day look like?

I wake up in the morning at 7 am. Then I make sure my son wakes up too for his school. I go to office by riding my bike by 9 am and work until 5 pm. My office work consists of mainly four types of things: class, research work, development work, and organizational work. Sometimes, I have a series of meetings and classes on a single day. I typically return home by 5.30 pm and have dinner with my family. Then I complete the remaining work of my day. I usually go to bed by 11.30 pm. On the weekends, my schedule is more flexible. I can spend more time with my family and friends.

What does your travel from home to Purdue look like?

It is a long 24-26 hours journey depending on the layover time. The route is usually Dhaka to Dubai (6 hours), then Dubai to Chicago (15 hours) and finally, Chicago to Indianapolis (1 hour). However, there are other routes that one can take. Although the flight time is long, I enjoy this journey.

What's one thing prospective students from your home should know about Purdue?

Purdue is one of the most diverse campuses in the US. You will find students from all parts of the world here. This opens up opportunities to learn from each other in a multi-cultural setting.

How do you de-stress in your free time?

I am passionate about chess. So, I play chess on the internet to de-stress myself. Sometimes, it puts additional stress too if I make any blunder, but I also learn from my mistakes and try to avoid similar mistakes in future.

How do you keep yourself organized?

There are multiple layers in my organization system. I have a big project file where I input all the different projects and break all these projects down into smaller and manageable tasks. I assign a different priority to each project and input the most important projects (with sub-tasks) for a month in another document with a timeline. Based on this second document, I organize my weekly and daily schedules using two apps (i.e. Google calendar, My Tasks). The first document helps me to see the big picture of my doctoral journey. The second document makes it more manageable by focusing on a particular month. The apps function more at the daily and weekly operational level. I constantly review my first and second document to make my weekly and monthly schedule more effective.

What are you hoping to do after you graduate from Purdue?

I will continue teaching, research, and service. I will implement the newly gained knowledge and skills to better serve my institute and students. I believe that a PhD will gradually prepare me to become a better learner, ask effective questions, and find innovative solutions to problems. My most important focus in my post PhD period will be to become a life-long learner and instill this belief into my students.

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