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August 7, 2009
By Guia Del Prado
Mokter Hossain, an international doctoral student and research assistant in the Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning in the College of Education had already accomplished much before coming to the University of Nevada, Reno. With a decade of teaching experience and 17 books under his belt, the 36-year-old Bangladesh native continues to exercise his expertise in computer science, information technology and mathematics as a writer, a researcher and a student.
Mokter first gained an interest in writing computer science and information technology reference and textbooks as a graduate student and a lecturer at the University of Dhaka in Bangladesh.
“In my student life, I was habited in making complete chapter notes for all my classes that helped me to be a writer of complete books,” he said. “When I started my career as a university teacher, my professor, Mohammad Lutfar Rahman, encouraged me to start writing with him.”
Mokter noticed that most of the textbooks being used in computer education were written in English, which resulted in language barrier issues with the students in Bangladesh because their native language is Bengali. By writing computer science reference and textbooks, he hoped to remove the language barrier and allow students to better understand what they are studying.
“Students faced, and still now I face, problems with English as a second language,” Mokter said. “My thought was that once students get these books in hand, they can read it in their native language and understand the basic concepts more quickly. Then they can go ahead to more sophisticated concepts with advanced books.”
With the help of his computer science professor Mohammad Lutfur Rahman, the founding chair of Computer Science and Engineering Department at the University of Dhaka, Mokter wrote and published “C/C++ and Object Oriented Programming in 2000,” his first book.
Apart from being a published writer, Mokter has found several advantages with writing books. He receives recognition from fellow students, writers and teachers of computer science. He said he receives several emails and letters of thanks from peers, students and teachers for his books that encourage him to work harder and write more.
Three of Mokter’s books, “Secondary Computer Studies” and “Information and Communication Technology Studies” were approved by the Bangladesh National Curriculum and Textbook Board as national textbooks for secondary education in Bangladesh in 2006. Some of his books are also exported to India in areas where Bengali is spoken as the native language, Mokter said.
“In my country, most of the students, teachers and professors who study computer science know me by my name,” Hossain said. “To be a writer is a God-gifted proudness. If you write a book you can get recognition from students and the teachers who are following your book either as a reference or a text. Very often I get encouraging emails from my fellow students and some of the teachers who are using my books from almost all of the schools, colleges and universities in Bangladesh.”
Mokter has also found professional and academic advantages from his written books. With the aid of his books and his expertise, he got credit points and was promoted from part-time lecturer to assistant professor at the Institute of Education and Research at the University of Dhaka, the largest and oldest university in Bangladesh.
“When you are a student or even a teacher you can pass over some difficult topics in your text,” he said. “But when you are writing a book, you cannot skip any single item. All the topics are necessary and cumulative. When I taught in class, all the contents of my books were in my head. This is the great advantage I myself enjoyed from my book.”
After completing his master’s degree in computer science, writing more than 10 books and becoming an assistant professor, Mokter set his sights on the next step, studying abroad. Mokter pursued a master’s of science in information technology in education at the University of Nevada, Reno in 2007 and completed it this past spring. Ever willing to move forward with the next step, Mokter will continue his education as a doctoral student with a major in secondary math education in the Curriculum, Learning and Teaching Department.
Mokter was prompted to make the switch from computer science and information technology to math education when he perceived that the teaching and learning processes of math in the United States were somewhat lacking to those in Bangladesh.
“Without practice, students cannot be proficient and fluent and cannot show their creativity in solving math, science and computer programming by themselves,” Hossain said. “But here, students are somehow reluctant in practice.”
This perception will fuel the research that he plans to study as a doctoral student, a cross-cultural study in the teaching and learning processes of math in Bangladesh and the United States.
“I can find out some way to compare which portions of the teaching-learning process in Bangladesh are better than here in the United States and which portions in the United States are better than in Bangladesh,” he said.
Apart from his studies, Mokter plans to continue writing books as the need for them arise. He also hopes to translate some of his works to English, if a publisher is willing to publish them.
“I have a plan to translate these books if I find a publisher here who is interested,” Mokter said. “Some of my books, ‘Advanced C Programming’, ‘C++ and Object-Oriented Programming’, ‘Java Programming, Data Structures and Algorithms’, are international standard. All the program codes and instructions are in English, only the statements are in Bengali. So it is not a big deal to convert them fully in English or any other language.”
Though Mokter is not sure where his work will lead him, he is sure that he will be successful and continues to enjoy his present endeavors.
“It is one of my characteristics that I do not think a lot about my future,” Mokter said. “I spend all my time and effort by thinking my present situation to make it successful. I don’t know where I will be teaching after my graduation. It was my ardent dream to be a doctor, now I’m happy that I am on the way to be a doctor.”