In this blog, Jayamalar Francis, Assistant Professor from Heriot-Watt Global College Malaysia, shares her experience when Captain Faiz Kamaludin (a Malaysian Astronaut) gave a guest lecture in her class.

Headshot of Captain Faiz Kamaludin, Malaysian Astronaut wearing his astronaut uniform and smiling at the camera.

Captain Faiz Kamaludin

During pandemic, almost all aspects of our lives revolved in the virtual world. Students experienced online classes, some for the very first time. Whilst facilitating student engagement can be challenging and many did struggle during the pandemic, there are techniques for engaging students online, which research and practice show are effective. Guest lecturing is a popular method to engage students (Li & Guo, 2015). Guest lecturers, especially if they are experts or well-known, can add interest and excitement that can increase student engagement.  They provide students with opinions and personal experiences that can reinforce the learning. They may be experts in certain field (Varvel Jr, n.d). With that in mind, I decided to engage a guest lecturer in my class.  Well, Captain Faiz Kamaludin certainly created a buzz for the students. After all he is a pilot cum social entrepreneur, a PhD holder and most of all a former astronaut. Captain Faiz Kamaludin represented the Malaysian government in the National Astronaut Programme as one of the final four candidates for the 2007 Soyuz TMA-11 mission with Roscosmos in Moscow, Russia. He is also the founder of AstroX, a social enterprise promoting the knowledge of science to schoolchildren, an airline pilot with China Airlines and holds a PhD in business.

Prior to the guest lecture session, I tried to create some interest about the speaker by preparing a simple presentation on his background and asked my students to conduct further research. Some of the students investigated his LinkedIn profile and commented that he is an interesting person.

During the session, Captain Kamaludin gave his perspective on corporate social responsibility and social enterprise. One of the class assignments involved analysing a social enterprise and he provided some valuable insight on how to grow and sustain a social enterprise. The most interesting aspect of the session was about his astronaut experience. He spoke about the gruelling astronaut training that he underwent in Malaysia and in Russia. I dare say many of us had no knowledge about space programme, and indeed it was a rare opportunity to watch some of the training videos.

Though I had my reservations on student participation since the session was conducted online, I was surprised by the online participation of the students with many questions posted in the chat and by the overall positive feedback about the session by the students. Most of the questions were related to his astronaut experience while some were about his social enterprise.

In terms of the feedback, one student (D1) commented that his story was an eye opener as “when it comes to advanced technology and space-related events, I almost always see the Americans or Russians and not Malaysians or similar, smaller countries”.

Another student (Q1) stated that she was inspired by his social enterprise and wants to start a SE that helps stray animals.

And a further student (F1) found the question-and-answer session fun as the speaker was very engaging and he told interesting stories and added “he was not opposed to answering funny/illogical questions like “did you see aliens” which made the session fun”.

Overall, students recommended guest lectures as they felt they can learn real life experience from the speaker’s sharing session such as their challenges and how they overcame them and understand society better from the speaker’s experience.

While this session concurs with previous studies that state online guest lecture can engage students by creating excitement to the class and provide expert knowledge (Eveleth & Baker-Eveleth, 2009; Varvel Jr, n.d). I also found that students were more engaged in class as the session was lively intertwined with unique and inspiring real-life story; hence captivating the students. I believe engaging a guest lecturer in class is beneficial especially if the speaker is interesting, as they can liven up the class, provide valuable knowledge and be a source of inspiration.



Eveleth, D. M. & Baker-Eveleth, L. J. (2009). Student Dialogue with Online Guest Speakers. Decision Sciences Journal of Innovative Education, 7 (2), 417-421

Li, L. & Guo, R. (2015). A Student-Centered Guest Lecturing: A Constructivism Approach to Promote Student Engagement. Journal of Instructional Pedagogies, Vol. 15, 1-7.

Varvel Jr, V. E. (n.d). Guest lecturers in the online environment. Retrieved from