CityU promotes e-Learning at Asia forum

Zoey Tsang

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The e-Learning Forum Asia 2009 education symposium organised by the Education Development Office of City University of Hong Kong (CityU), was held on 11-12 May to promote electronic teaching and learning in tertiary
institutions across Asia. Scholars and distinguished guests from the US, Australia, UK, Taiwan, Singapore, mainland China and Hong Kong exchanged views and ideas on the subject at the forum. CityU also showcased various innovative online solutions for enhancing the effects of e-learning.

This year’s forum is focused on topics related to Asia’s tertiary education, including the infrastructure of information technology, multi-lingual issues, social and mobile learning, and factors affecting institutional deployment of e-Learning.

Officiating at the opening ceremony were Dr Yang Zhijian, Deputy Director-General from the Department of Higher Education, the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China; Dr Chan Ka-ki, Deputy Secretary for Education from the Education Bureau of Hong Kong SAR Government; and Professor Way Kuo, CityU President.

“Thanks to the internet, education has become available everywhere, going beyond the conventional university compounds into the community at large,” Dr Yang said. “More people now have access to tertiary education and can share high-quality teaching resources.”

Dr Yang then briefed the audience on the development of e-learning in mainland China. He said distance learning courses at tertiary level began on the mainland in the late 1990s, and as of 2008, more than four million people had completed their higher education through such programmes. In order to widen the sharing of quality teaching resources, a series of free online courses have been developed for tertiary institutions nationwide. More than 800 are now available on the internet.

“Information literacy has become increasingly important in education,” said Dr Chan. “Students nowadays are expected to be competent and eager to engage in a wide range of learning activities that involve electronic means and tools,” she added. “The existing ‘IT in Education Strategy’ launched by the Education Bureau in 1998 has progressed from building the infrastructure to using IT in everyday teaching activities. Using the right technology at the right time for appropriate learning tasks is crucial in yielding quality student learning and is indeed the emphasis of the strategy.”

“E-learning creates a lot of new opportunities,” said Professor Kuo. “It goes beyond political, physical and economical boundaries and makes information available internationally,” he added. “CityU is a keen advocator of e-learning, which was implemented on campus four years ago. It is an honour and privilege for CityU to host such an event today.”

As an early pioneer in e-learning in Asia, CityU

organised the first Asia e-Learning Forum in 2006. The initiative received strong support from Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University and Taiwan’s Feng Chia University. Since then, the three universities have alternated the hosting of the annual event.

Dr Jerry Yu Jer-tsang, CityU’s Chief Information Officer and chairman of the forum’s organising committee, said information technology is crucial to educational institutes in the 21st century for enhancing education, research and administrative services. “Supporting education with information technology forms an important part of CityU’s strategic plan. In view of the upcoming new four-year normative curriculum and the increasing demand for continuous education, the university will continue to allocate resources for e-learning to help students.”

Professor Christian Wagner of the Department of Information Systems at CityU was one of the forum speakers. He described how he used virtual world software, Second World, to develop student skills in teamwork and explore business opportunities on the internet. The findings demonstrated that engagement in the virtual world environment allowed students to exercise their creativity and contributed to the students’ learning experience as they went through the stages of planning, action, experience and understanding.

CityU alumnus Mr Gyver Lau Kwok-leung, Assistant Principal of the Assembly of God Hebron Secondary School, briefed the audience on Hong Kong Education City, the largest one-stop professional educational portal. The student-centred portal helps improve students’ language skills and promotes exchanges and investigative study. It has offered many advantages in teaching and learning since its establishment in 2000.

Electronic learning has indeed become part of students’ learning experience at CityU, as 70% of its academic programmes use e-learning platforms and the log-in count reaches more than six million per academic year. The University’s e-learning platform provides students with rich learning resources for various programmes, academic courses and complementary courses, encouraging them to pursue proactive learning. Also, teachers can use e-learning platforms to make various assessments and respond efficiently to student feedback and questions.

CityU launched its unified e-learning platform in 2005, aiming to facilitate teaching and learning as well as online data exchanges between teachers and students and to create a student-oriented learning environment with the aid of technology. In its early stages, the system focused on making course content more interactive and interesting. With better understanding of the platform operation and new tools and functions added to the platform, academic colleagues can now interact with students through e-forums and blogs.


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