Teaching Philosophy of Dr. Khaled Salah


“Teaching” is one of the few professions in which an academic is involved in shaping the future of students and their society. Therefore, I take teaching with an immense responsibility. A great portion of my energy, time and efforts are invested in becoming a highly effective teacher. I seek constantly to learn novel teaching methods and techniques. I am always on the lookout on how new advances in technology and teaching tools (such as WebCT, blackboard, YouTube video clips, Computer-based training material, Wikipedia, etc.) can be utilized and exploited to enrich the learning experience of my students. This was recognized in 2006 as I received the Distinguished Teaching award.

The discipline of Computer Science and Engineering is rapidly evolving and changing. A teacher in such a discipline can be at a grave risk of being easily outdated. An outdated teacher does not add much to student’s learning experience and earns little respect from faculty and students. In order to remediate such a risk, it is important to be visible in such a discipline in terms of research and contribution. Therefore, I make it a top priority to give seminars on hot topics in computer security, networking, and operating systems. Recently, I have given and scheduled to give invited talks and seminars on the emerging area of "Cloud Computing". I seek to publish constantly in reputable journals and conferences. Presently, I serve as an editorial board member of seven prestigious international journals. It was a great achievement to find out that one of my publications on IP telephony has been continuously making it for the past four years in the top 25 hottest articles of one of a well-known journal in computer communications.

I am very fortunate to be teaching topics in the field of Computer Science and Engineering. I truly find myself enthusiastic and excited about the material that I teach. It simply comes naturally to me because I love Computer Science and truly believe that it is a field that has so much to offer the world. The in-class learning experience is rewarding, yet enjoyable and fulfilling to me and students.

I believe that my role as a teacher is not only disseminating knowledge but also empowering the students with the necessary skills to be independent life-long learners. Fundamentally, my role is to plant little seeds that will bring forth high-caliber graduates who will rise up to challenges in their future careers. Therefore, during my in-class lectures and presentations, I enrich my class with analogy, story-telling, practical examples, and try hard to engage students to participate and interact with me in order to develop skills of critical thinking, problem solving, reasoning, and analysis. It is important for them to understand and not memorize. They must be able to see relationships, differences, implications, and applications of material. I always advocate to my students that knowledge retention is accomplished by discussion, questioning, paying attention, and good listening. Discussion will allow my students to communicate better and use the language of discipline. I always emphasize to them that the ability to verbalize an idea is a great skill to develop.

Homework, quizzes, exams, and projects are key educational and motivating tools. They direct student's studying and provide necessary corrective feedback in addition to building critical skills. So, I advocate to treat them as such instead of a basis for providing grade. I tell my students that Thomas Edison was once asked, "How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?" Edison replied by saying, "I didn't fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,001 steps."

I find that my ongoing consultation with Saudi Telecom on issues related to network security and design, as well as my past industrial experience in the field of computer networking and software development is of a great added value to students. The practical component is a very essential part of my teaching. The vast majority of my students graduate and work in industry, so they are anxious to know how it looks like working in hi-tech companies, particularly how to apply key concepts and knowledge.

To be a highly effective teacher, it takes a lot more than having up-to-date knowledge in the field or having strong presentation and communication skills. I find psychology and understanding human behavior and how people learn are essential components of being an effective teacher. I devote a great deal of my free time to read on such topics. I find it very rewarding when employing these techniques during my interactions with students and faculty. I believe that a good teacher needs to boost the mood of his students, identify them by name, and throw in little humor. Having a good sense of humor to set up a comfortable atmosphere is enormously effective.

My students, peers and faculty describe me as committed, enthusiastic, approachable, resourceful, organized, innovative and knowledgeable with a keen attitude towards helping students. I believe that the role of a teacher is that of a leader where you have to show the path, motivate, encourage, and lead by example. My success lies in seeing my students succeed and I experience it when I see my students move on to industry or graduate school. Eventually some of the past students evolve into useful professional and industrial contacts who stay in touch long after they have graduated.