Explore and enhance new extra-curricular learning
Since the coronavirus pandemic, educators have made unprecedented efforts to continue teaching and learning in cyberspace. However, students’ social interactions have been hampered due to the absence of physical school life. The importance of extra-curricular learning activities is obvious to expand students’ social circle for academic and career success.
Tertiary institutions in Hong Kong have proactively designed and delivered creative virtual activities to help students grow personally, socially, and academically and prepare them for successful college and career transitions.
We have collected some good practices of technology-enhanced extra-curricular learning initiatives, which have been beneficial, keeping students engaged and motivated from the pandemic strain.
Media Studies in a Changing Society
The course GDCV 1027 Media Studies in a Changing Society employs Flipped Classrooms, asynchronous online discussion, e-service-learning and VR videos as teaching and learning strategies to enhance students' understanding of the theoretical relationships between storytelling techniques and their effects. Students need to engage in a critical reflection on the impact of storytelling and ponder how it shapes current practices in news making and beyond. They gain practical knowledge on how to effectively apply storytelling techniques to media practices in real life. Students also have opportunities to interact with overseas counterparts to exchange ideas. Moreover, students are required to prepare teaching materials and give mini-lectures of digital storytelling techniques and medical literacy to local secondary school students.
peer-assisted learning scheme
The spread of the COVID-19 pandemic severely affected our lives, resulting in schools shut down across the world. To continue student extra-curricular learning, Dr. Tarloff Im, Senior Education Development Office in Talent and Education Development Office at CityU, quickly converted the peer-assisted learning scheme using Supplemental Instruction (PALSI) program to a remote format. PALSI is a course-based learning initiative where well-performing senior students (PALSI leaders) are recruited to lead sessions to discuss academic work and share tips on effective learning with junior students (PALSI students).
The Service Outreach Experience Programme
The Service Outreach Experience Programme (SOEP) was established at City University of Hong Kong (CityU) in 2019 to encourage students to widen their horizons and gain global insights by participating in overseas community services. However, many international community services were suspended due to impacts related to the COVID-19 pandemic. To continue these extra-curricular activities, Mr. Cavan Chan and Ms. Michelle Chan from the Student Development Services (SDS) dedicated their time to transforming SOEP into a series of virtual cultural activities. As a result, CityU students could meet their peers all over the world without leaving town.
The eLearning Student Ambassadors (eLSA) Programme
Being part of the University’s Campus Work Scheme, the eLearning Student Ambassadors (eLSA) Programme was launched in 2020 to equip students with necessary skills to thrive in the digital environment. Training and practice are two main components of the eLSA programme. The programme provides students with training on various digital and multimedia production topics, including photography, videography, audio editing, video editing, website design, desktop publishing, fundamentals of programming and digital animation. Ms. Lo and Mr. Chow remarked that active learning, in particular, the processes of creating and thinking, is essential to digital training.
Virtual Service-Learning: Online Peer Mentoring
Service-Learning is an educational approach that integrates community service into learning objectives. It is especially important under the COVID-19 pandemic where new and urgent needs are brought up, such that service-learning could help contribute to overcoming this difficult time. Dr. Henry Fung, Lecturer cum Associate Programme Director of PR Concentration in the Department of Communication Studies at Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) implemented the virtual service-learning project into the course PRAD2037 Interpersonal Communication, with an enrollment of 30 HKBU students. This project partnered with Tung Wah Group of Hospitals (TWGHs), where all students served as peer mentors and delivered two virtual communication training workshops via Zoom to 30 secondary school students coming from poor socio-economic backgrounds.
As a firm believer and advocate of sustainable development, Dr. Kenneth LI, Lecturer of the Office of University General Education, initiated an animation series to raise teenagers’ awareness of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) laid out by the United Nations. This initiative was supported by the Sustainable Development Goals Action Fund.
Environmental Health and Toxicology
The course BIOL3016 Environmental Health and Toxicology employed the platform of Future Learn for inter-cultural and cross-discipline exchanges of students. Students needed to complete the learning and teaching activities in the Future Learn, such as watching videos, online quizzes and discussion forums. In addition, HKBU students needed to exchange ideas with students from the University of Macau and the Macau University of Science and Technology.
HKUST Biodiversity Map
HKUST is rich in biodiversity because of its unique geographical location. It attracts different HKUST members (including staff and students) to take photos and document the ones they are interested in. The HKUST Biodiversity Map and virtual tour trails are, therefore, developed from their work into a systematic collection of biodiversity information and photo albums. The project aims to induce students’ interest and curiosity in appreciating nature and spreading local biodiversity and conservation knowledge. It can also facilitate a flexible learning atmosphere to learn outside the classroom. Currently, the Map consists of four categories of over a hundred species with detailed descriptions mapped against the campus map. In addition, there is a 360 virtual trail to the Chinese Garden featuring butterflies and host plants along the way.
Embracing the Power of Visuals to Communicate Learning Experience
Virtual visual facilitation was introduced into HKUST in the 2020 summer co-creation program “Project # U2.0”. Students and staff were guided to use basic visual elements, icons and templates for idea generation in three intensive Virtual Visual Facilitation LAB training sessions. To further harness the power of visuals, a Train-the-Trainer program was arranged to enable staff to deliver the visual facilitation workshops and to integrate the different sections into their own programs or advising with students. HKUST Connect team (1) initiated “CMe”, a visual that facilitates self-exploration and captures students’ experience in a community project, (2) developed visual thinking workshops “You Can Draw – Develop your visual thinking to communicate ideas”, and (3) incorporated visual templates in different programs and activities for reflection and communication.