Explore new learning venues for teaching and learning
To address limitations in the physical learning environment, such as insufficient learning time and space, lack of props and apparatus, safety issues and constraints brought up by the COVID, it is essential to explore and create new learning venues.
Realising the advancement in AR/VR technology, computer simulations, and other online platforms, virtual venues are progressively being adopted for educational and training purposes. Not only do the virtual learning venues handle the above issues, but they also provide an immersive and authentic learning experience to boost learning quality and efficiency. For example, students could apply their subject knowledge in a virtual laboratory with a danger-free environment or deepen their learning with interactive and visualized content in a virtual fieldtrip. It also allows students to access the online venues anytime and anywhere to learn at their own paces and needs. Besides, such technology enables teachers to utilize tutorial time better and engage students.
When teaching and learning moved online during the pandemic, technology played an essential role in creating new learning venues across universities. The following cases documented the good practices from various universities for reference and further implementation in the future.
VR Trail of Plant Learning
The ongoing covid-19 pandemic, periods of class suspension, or even occasionally extreme weather have had a transformative effect on where and how we teach and learn. In order to compensate the lost time and the missed learning opportunities, Dr. David Lau, Curator of the Shiu-Ying Hu Herbarium from the School of Life Sciences at CUHK, created a “Virtual Reality Trail of Plant Learning” project which is now made available as an elective course “BIOL4510 Hong Kong Flora and Vegetation” for the students of the School of Life Sciences.
XR Technologies in Biochemistry and Cell Biology Education
Dr. Ngai, Lecturer of the School of Life Sciences, CUHK has been dedicating his time to maxmising learning experience for students by application of extended reality (XR) technologies for Biochemistry and Cell Biology Education. Reflective of the fact that the use of animation and micro modules in teaching seems to be teacher-centred, Dr. Nagi and his team attempts to create learning materials with which enable students to interact.
Virtual Laboratory SimulatioN (VLS)
Laboratory classes are essential for students in the science and engineering field to acquire practical skills and make sense of abstract and complex scientific phenomena. Under the constraints of large class size and timetabling problems for common core courses, limited laboratory spaces, and restriction of face-to-face classes due to the COVID-19, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) launched a virtual teaching and learning initiative to adopt virtual laboratory simulation (VLS) modules provided by two commercial companies, namely Labster and Learning Science, to bridge these gaps.
Gamification: Adopt Online Boardgame Platform for Virtual Teaching and Learning
Gamification or game-based learning, the design of applying gaming elements or a stand-alone game, appears to gain popularity in higher education thanks to its potential in strengthening engagement with students. Through technological advancement, such methods could be carried out both physically and digitally depending on situations and needs. Dr Meike Sauerwein, a lecturer from the Division of Environment and Sustainability of HKUST, has implemented games in the courses SUST1000-Introduction to Sustainability, ENVR1080-The Smart Consumer - Uncovering the Hidden Story behind the Product Label and ENGG2010-Engineering Seminar Series.
Virtual Reality: Water Quality Monitoring
Nothing matches the experiences of joining field trips to explore things in person in an environmental science study. However, opportunities for field trips are greatly limited by weather and site conditions. Moreover, distance learning is encouraged during the ongoing pandemic outbreaks. To enhance student engagement and compensate for the missed learning opportunities, Dr. Richard Cheung, Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry at City University of Hong Kong, has adopted a flipped-classroom approach to facilitate a virtual field trip in an elective course "CHEM4040 Environmental Impact Assessment."
Application of Virtual Reality (VR) to field trip learning
In the discipline of real estate, field trips are essential for students to develop their sense of three-dimensional space and observation skills. Physical field trips notwithstanding are difficult to be arranged due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the social distancing policy. To enhance students’ learning experience, Dr. Ervi Liusman, Lecturer of the School of Hotel and Tourism Management at CUHK, created three sets of VR trails, including a VR video of the Central Business District, a VR360 panorama tour of the Peak Galleria and the Central Market. Students can roam around virtually to observe the places.
Application as a Job Interview Practice Tool for Business Students and Beyond
As a compulsory course in the Business School, hundreds of students enrolled in “LABU2060 - Effective Communication in Business” every cohort but only one lesson could be allocated for interview practice within the fully packed course schedule. Ms Kasina Wong, a lecturer in the Center for Language Education of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, recognised the need for out-of-class drilling resources in consideration of the insufficient yet valued in-class practices time and materials. With the physical limitations brought by COVID as a catalyst, Ms Wong and her team have developed a job interview practice application with a built-in Virtual Reality version.
in Analytical Sciences
The initiative of Practical Skills in Analytical Sciences is for the Year 2 Chemistry undergraduate students, although it is also used for the Master of Sciences degree students to refresh their memory for better preparation of the programme. The initiative adopts a blended learning approach, online videos, simple true-or-false-based assessments and discussion forums as the major teaching and learning strategies. The initiative aims to help students better connect between the lectures and laboratory classes, and enhance their practical skills of students in analytical sciences.
Incorporating Online Artificial-Intelligence Tools in Student-led Learning Activities
The need for interdisciplinary skills in Financial Technology (Fintech) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) in accounting is increasing in the business world. Still, there has been a shortage of Fintech talents and tech-savvy accounting graduates. In light of this, Dr. Alex Rengong ZHANG and Dr. Xiaoli HU from City University of Hong Kong (CityU) incorporated online AI tools in student-led learning activities to enable discovery-based financial education in 2019. Their project was supported by the UGC Teaching Development and Language Enhancement Grant and the Department of Accountancy of CityU.
Gamification in a Laboratory Course
It is essential for students to study the laboratory manual to familiarize themselves with the content before field trips and laboratory sessions to grasp the concepts on the topic as well as avoid potential danger, however, students found the lengthy reading boring. Given this, Prof. Cindy Lam - Assistant Professor of Science Education in the Department of Ocean Science at HKUST, intended to revamp the pre-laboratory preparation experience by developing a mobile application for the course OCES3001 - Coastal Environmental Monitoring. Along with two students from the previous cohort, they have decided to incorporate the gamification element with laboratory simulations to induce student learning motivation in a fun and interactive way.
Metaversal Entrepreneurship Education
With the belief that entrepreneurship cannot be taught, Prof. Erwin Huang, Adjunct Professor in the Division of Integrative Systems and Design at HKUST, is enthusiastic about creating a learning environment that nurtures students’ entrepreneurial spirit. In his course “ENTR3100 Industrial Landscape: Understanding the Elements to Start a Business”, he incorporated experiential learning by using Virtual Reality technology for students to explore issues in selected industries.
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.
Gamification in Calculus Course
Building up an effective triadic interaction among teachers, peers and students in an online environment has long been a challenging task. In view of this, Dr. Jeff Chak Fu Wong, Senior Lecturer of the Department of Mathematics from CUHK, has developed an eLearning platform for Calculus courses. In the platform, he has implemented several strategies including gamification of learning, reciprocal peer-tutoring and the initiation-response-follow-up (IRFo) pattern. In addition to teaching the Calculus concept, Dr. Wong aims to instil the mindset of the mathematical thinking process into his students through the interactive courseware design.
The Virtual eLearning Tool (VeT) Courseware
Anatomy is considered the cornerstone of health professions education. Students are required to acquire basic knowledge of the body systems and complete the practicums to understand the relationship between functions and structures for the pathogenesis of diseases. However, the paucity of cadavers has long been a challenge for experiential anatomy learning. Given this, Dr. Florence Tang, Lecturer of the School of Biomedical Sciences at CUHK, has developed courseware combining Augmented Reality (AR) and 3D Printing technologies entitled Virtual eLearning Tool (VeT). The initiative aims to provide students with innovative experiences when studying human organs.
The DNA Wonderland
Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is one of the key topics in the CUHK Medicine faculty package which is a set of foundation courses for all the Faculty of Medicine students. Students from different majors, such as Nursing and Chinese Medicine, are required to complete the faculty package courses. However, non-medicine major students and new entry students without a biology background may feel frustrated and difficult to pick up the concepts. In light of this, Dr. YEUNG Hang Mee Po, a lecturer from the School of Biomedical Sciences of CUHK, designed an interactive game-based courseware named “The DNA Wonderland”. The initiative has been applied to the courses MEDF1010 Foundation course for health science I and MEDF1012A Foundation course for health science II.