Education: Winner of a number of awards, most of Professor Islam's education was in UK. As a Commonwealth Scholarship holder, Professor Islam completed his PhD in Engineering from Strathclyde University, Glasgow in 1988. He was recipient of a David Livingstone award as well as a Charles Wallace award during his PhD research. Having stood first in his Master's class he was recommended for an automatic transfer to the PhD program at Strathclyde University. He completed his Bachelor's Degree in Electrical & Electronic Engineering from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh in 1978 with 100% marks for his software project. To give a solid theoretical foundation to his existing teaching skills, he did a second Master's in Instructional Design Technology from Open University Malaysia (OUM) completed in 2010 where his thesis pioneered a blended teaching model that combines the best of face-to-face teaching with e-Learning support that promotes deep reflection amongst learners. His work landed him with an adjunct professorship at OUM where he has been teaching Human Performance Technology (HPT) – a modern and complex subject.
Academic Positions Held: Professor Islam held a number of top academic positions where his contributions stand out distinctly. As the Founding Vice Chancellor of Metropolitan University (MU), Sylhet he introduced a one-month English Camp where fresher's go through a months' worth of English activities from 9am to 5pm before joining the regular university classes. The camp goes a long way to build the students' much needed English language foundation essential for high level university education. The "camp" has raised the popularity of MU and attracted the highest number of students from Sylhet. Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, Founder of BRAC U invited him to be the Founding Chair of the CSE department at BRAC University (BRAC U) in 2002. He was a founding member of the strategic planning committee BUILD at BRAC U that planned the direction of BRAC U during its infancy. As Founding Academic Director of the Residential Semester (RS), he designed and planned all the activities that help students develop self-esteem and English language skills. He was the Founding Director of the Teaching Learning Center (TLC) at BRAC U where he designed a participatory approach to teacher training. Both these contributions of Professor Islam were acknowledged as the flagships of BRAC U at the 10th Founding Anniversary in 2012. NCC (UK) nominated him as the Regional Moderator consecutively for 3 terms for the BSc program under Metropolitan University (UK). With the introduction of a structured project methodology by Professor Islam, the NCC program expanded from 3 to 12 centers all over Bangladesh. In 2008, he moved to Daffodil International University, where in addition to his academic duties he was appointed as the Founding Executive Director of the Human Resources Development Institute (HRDI). At HRDI he spearheads the development of innovative teaching techniques, student study techniques and supports teachers to attend PhD programs abroad. One of his contributions was the university wide introduction of an interactive classroom feedback system blog. Teachers across the university use this medium to get feedback on learning from students. Other research work into how to teach the difficult subject of programming has resulted in a book called, "Empowering Tertiary Level students using Social Media."
Concerns: Professor Islam is a thorough bred academician with deep concerns about the learning of students at university level. He sees problems faced by tertiary level institutions as challenges that need to be solved by the combined efforts of teachers and administrators.He strongly believes that for progress the administration needs to take a close look at the nature of the students and together with teachers install systems that would help students develop and learn.
With the growth of private universities, new challenges are constantly surfacing. Professor Islam firmly believes that education delivery has to be supported by research resulting in appropriate development projects which help students become employable and market worthy.
Projects Won: Professor Islam won a number of foreign funded projects for his innovative work. Through two projects each worth 900,000 Swedish Krona from SPIDER (2007 – 2009), an affiliate of SIDA, Professor Islam developed an innovative “Interactive Television” methodology for Bangladesh Open University (BOU). Using this methodology he produced 28 English Language lessons for HSC students which were aired a number of times by BOU. The methodology created a lot of interested among students who could interactively participate while sitting at home anywhere in rural Bangladesh. Recently, Professor Islam was awarded two projects each worth Euros 10,000 by the International Association of Universities (IAU) under the LEADHER program in 2012 and 2014. The projects involved development of research capacity of teachers to ultimately enable them to publish research and enroll abroad for PhD programs. Three teachers have already started their PhD programs abroad while six more are under process. Most recently he has won another award worth Euros 20,000 to work with the Internationalization Strategies Advisory Services (ISAS) for planning of the internationalization of Daffodil International University.
Innovative Techniques Introduced and Contributions: Professor Islam is responsible for the development of a number of innovations. In addition to interactive television using mobile technology and blended learning that promotes deep reflection he has developed participatory engaging classroom techniques that force all students including those with poor language skills and low self-esteem to engage in the subject content and learn well as well as develop confidence. The technique brings out the latent creativity of students and promotes learning the subject in-depth. He has introduced a structured methodology for using Social Media that helps bridge their subject learning gaps. He has implemented workshops and projects that help students develop self-esteem and improve their study skills. He believes in solving university level problems using a participatory approach. He calls this approach Question Based Participatory Planning (QBPP) which he designed while at BRAC University and applies it to staff development workshops. The workshop methodology engages participants to take ownership of the problems and solutions. For the past eight years, Professor Islam has been contributing to a newspaper column called “The Revelation”. He has written 385 weekly articles for The News Today to-date. This is a sequential “tafseer” of the Qur’an that links “ayats” to modern day life.
Family Background: Professor Islam belongs to a family of academicians. His paternal grandfather Late Moulvi Serajul Islam was Professor at Rajshahi College from 1922 to 1947 and then till 1954 Professor at Chittagong College. Recipient of many awards, his father Professor Dr Ahmad Shamsul Islam guided more than 17 PhDs at the Department of Botany, Dhaka University, and established a two international journals and authored two books on Genetics that are used as textbooks. He was awarded the Curie Memorial Award in 1954 for his outstanding PhD research that developed “seedless strawberries” and was honored by the honorable Agriculture Minister Begum Matia Chowdhury during 2014 for initiating the work on the Jute Genome project. On the maternal side his grandfather Late Md. Sakhawat Hossain was the Founder President of Dhaka Chambers of Commerce & Industry (DCCI) and a Founder Member of Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE). His sister Dr Zeba Islam Seraj is Professor of Biochemistry who has a number of articles in peer reviewed journals to her credit, of which the article covering a salt resistant variety of rice is one.