The University of Hong Kong (HKU) has been working on a series of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) named “HKUx” since joining edX, the non-profit online education platform founded by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University. Among the first courses to run on the HKUx platform will be “Epidemics”, which is now open for registration. Enrollment for the other courses, entitled “The Search for Vernacular Architecture of Asia” and “Humanity and Nature in Chinese Thought”, for example, will also begin in the near future.

These interactive MOOCs, designed and taught by world-renowned professors at the University, are built around self-paced video lectures, online discussion groups and assessment exercises. Registration is open to all, with no prerequisites.

Re-inventing the learning experience, enabling a worldwide audience to learn together

HKU Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost Professor Roland T Chin said, “MOOCs are our new endeavour. We want to make many of our courses accessible to the global audience as well as the local public, including our alumni, students and the community at large. Our best professors have put together some very interesting topics using innovative approaches both in terms of content and pedagogy in order to make materials accessible, relevant and interesting to a global audience. They offer the flexibility of video lectures anytime, anywhere, on any device. Students will actively participate in online forums, critically reflect on discussions, and learn through various assessment exercises.” These courses are intended to be challenging, and Professor Chin invites the general public to take these HKUx courses to experience this new way of learning.

Inaugural HKUx courses highlight the University’s core strengths

The University has carefully selected the following courses as starters. They represent the core strengths of HKU in teaching and learning as well as research:

  • “Epidemics” is a course led by Professor Gabriel M Leung, Dean of the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, HKU, and eight world-renowned experts on infectious diseases and public health, including Professor Yuen Kwok-yung, Henry Fok Professor in Infectious Diseases, Chair Professor of the Department of Microbiology; Professor Malik Peiris, Tam Wah-Ching Professorship in Medical Science, Chair Professor and Director of the School of Public Health; and Professor Guan Yi, Daniel CK Yu Professorship in Virology and Co-Director of the State Key Laboratory of Emerging Infectious Diseases. The course will be co-taught by Professor Marc Lipsitch, Professor of Epidemiology from the Harvard School of Public Health and Dr Mark Jit from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

    This course explores the origins of novel pathogens, the spread of infectious diseases as well as the preventive and control measures to contain outbreaks. It also presents risk communication strategies that contribute to public health preparedness and features panel discussions on ethics and crisis management with leading public health experts. The first-hand experiences that the team has earned from combating SARS and other emerging infectious diseases such as avian influenza (A) H7N9 virus will enable students from around the world to better understand the threat of epidemics.

  • “The Search for Vernacular Architecture in Asia” is a comprehensive, dialogue-based course that provides a thorough understanding of the concept of vernacular architecture and its applications to the culture and built environments of the past, present and future. Designed to promote discussion and encourage dialogue, this course will challenge the perception of tradition with examples from across Asia and stimulate a deeper analysis of participants’ local environment.

    This course is led by Professor David Lung Ping-yee, Lady Edith Kotewall Professor in the Built Environment, who is internationally recognized for his scholarship and work in the field of heritage conservation and World Heritage properties.

  • “Humanity and Nature in Chinese Thought” provides an introduction to traditional Chinese ethical thought and a tour of the pervasive contrast in the way Chinese and Westerners think about ethical guidance or guidance concerning what is right and what is wrong, good or bad, with Western ethics focusing on a “law” metaphor – where moral law is “supernatural” command, while Chinese ethics focuses on a “path” metaphor where the paths are “written” in nature prior to human practices.

    The instructor of this course is Chad Hansen, Emeritus Chair Professor of Chinese Philosophy, and also a prolific author on Daoism, theory of language and logic, and classical Chinese ethics.

  • About edX and Enrollment procedures for HKUx

    EdX is a not-for-profit enterprise of its founding partners Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology focused on transforming online and on-campus learning through groundbreaking methodologies, game-like experiences and cutting-edge research. It uses its open source technology to transcend physical and social borders.

    EdX brings together world’s top universities to provide inspirational and transformative knowledge to students of all ages, social status, and income who form worldwide communities of learners. In addition to Harvard and MIT, the edX consortium previously included the California Institute of Technology, University of California Berkeley, Australian National University, Delft University of Technology, University of Toronto and Kyoto University.

    More information on HKUx is available at https://www.edx.org/school/hkux . Registration is open and free.

    For general questions and answers about edX courses, please visit: https://www.edx.org/student-faq.

    For media enquiries, please contact Communications and Public Affairs Office:
    Ms Rhea Leung, tel: 2857 8555 / 9022 7446 email: rhea.leung@hku.hk