Teaching and Learning at The University of Hong Kong HKU

e-learning    > Blog    > HKU Online Learning & MOOCs    > CETL    > UG Research Fellowship

HKUx Blog edx MOOC


We build. We innovate. We share. It is our team’s mission to support teachers in building useful learning resources and sharing knowledge with technology. One recent project is the enhancement of the Resources for Interpreting website (傳譯資料網), an online platform for the practice, training and research of interpreting developed by Dr Eva Ng from the Translation Programme of the School of Chinese.


The Interpreting Website
Funded by the Knowledge Exchange (KE) Office of HKU, this website provides free learning and training resources for anyone interested in interpreting. One star feature of the website is a glossary of bilingual Chinese-English terms on current affairs. It is a constantly updating database of thousands of entries collected by students from the news over many years of effort. This database is not only useful for professional interpreters, but also anyone interested in learning buzzwords in the news.


Website enhancement
For any glossaries and databases, a user-friendly searching function is indispensable. The database now supports searching by Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese. The intelligent search function has been also added recently. For example, if you input “appr h” in the search bar, it will prompt you with “Appreciate Hong Kong”. In other words, even if the input information does not correspond exactly with the entries in the database, you will still be prompted with possible matching items and related terms.

Our team further enriched the website by producing a video on what is interpreting. We also set up a server and advised Dr Ng’s team on website architecture and theme development.


Looking Forward
Furthering our effort in revolutionizing the website, we are now planning to transform the glossary into an app to increase the accessibility of this useful learning resource. One key feature of the app will be game-based learning – it will not just be a dictionary, but made interactive for users to learn new vocabulary items through games.

It is TELI’s mission to collaborate with teachers to create innovative e-learning resources. Interested? Contact us.

Further Reading


Guest blogger series: Chaak Ming LAU
Mr. Chaak Ming Lau is a Part-time Lecturer at the School of Chinese, The University of Hong Kong. Lau specializes in computational linguistics and is the developer of the CantoSounds platform.

Gamification is a powerful tool to motivate students to learn. One recent successful example is the CantoSounds project 1 initiated by a team of Cantonese teachers from the School of Chinese. It is a versatile gamification platform for exchange students who often lament that Cantonese is a difficult language to learn. The CantoSounds team reached out a helping hand by providing self-learning online resources and gamifying the learning experience. The CantoSounds platform has been used in CHIN9511 Cantonese as a Foreign Language I and is now open for public access.

Creating a Versatile Gamification Platform for Self-learning

Canto1The CantoSounds platform now has over hundreds of videos and sound samples, as well as interactive learning materials, quizzes, and games, freely accessible online anytime. These materials are designed for self-practising pronunciation and romanisation outside class time, allowing teachers and students to focus on communicative language learning activities in class.

The system was rolled out in late January 2016. Through the system, students can watch videos demonstrating the explanatory of initials, finals and tones, click on images to listen to individual words, and do a simple quiz to test their understanding. All these actions give students game points. As they gain more points through progressive learning, they will be promoted to higher levels (from Newbie to Expert!). Learning is further gamified through providing different questions in every quiz quest, with instant feedback.

Creating an online gamification platform is not as difficult as one may think. The platform was built on WordPress with leveraging third-party plugins. For instance, CantoSounds used MyCred for the point system and WP-Pro Quiz for quizzes. A simple mini-game was embedded from the Quizlet flashcard platform. Less tech-savvy teachers can also update online content using WordPress’ ready-made editor backend.

Providing Extra Incentives via Gamifying the Learning Process

The team tested the platform with students in the course. In order to give extra incentives to students, 1% of the participation score of the course was allocated to the game platform. One mark will be assigned to students if they reach the highest rank (Expert, 1000 points) on the platform. Usually a mere 1% score cannot really motivate students, but the combination of course incentive plus gaming elements did a wonderful job in motivating students to hit the highest rank – Out of the 66 students who signed up, an amazing number of students (20) reached the Expert rank. This shows that students were attracted to use the system. With gamification, we can provide students with an engaging and “sticky” learning experience. This, we believe, is the power of gamification.


Gamification is a powerful tool to reshape students’ learning experience and maximize learning outcome. It is not only useful in facilitating language teaching, but can also be used in other courses. If you are looking for ways to motivate students to learn, gamification may be one way to try out.


  • Barata, G., Gama, S., Jorge, J., & Gonçalves, D. (2013, October). Improving participation and learning with gamification. In Proceedings of the First International Conference on gameful design, research, and applications (pp. 10-17). ACM.
  • Conquering the 4Cs: Creating Engaging In-class Activities
  • DomíNguez, A., Saenz-De-Navarrete, J., De-Marcos, L., FernáNdez-Sanz, L., PagéS, C., & MartíNez-HerráIz, J. J. (2013). Gamifying learning experiences: Practical implications and outcomes. Computers & Education, 63, 380-392.
  • Kapp, K. M. (2012). The gamification of learning and instruction: game-based methods and strategies for training and education. John Wiley & Sons.
  • MOOC: Gamification https://www.coursera.org/learn/gamification
1 The CantoSounds project is funded by the HKU Teaching Development Grant.


Universities have progressively turned to technology-enhanced strategies for teaching, learning and making learner-centred student assessment, inspiring life-long learning (Lopez-Fernandez & Rodriguez-Illera, 2009). E-portfolio supports this need, and has been used with different focuses for students, teachers and institutions in the education sector. Therefore, expectations for e-portfolios are constantly changing over the years.

A review of the literature shows that there are three primary functions of e-portfolios that support users’ affective and cognitive development – documentation (evidence and outcomes of learning), reflections on learning, and collaboration.

On documentation, personal, professional and intellectual development of students can be well recorded and supported in e-portfolios (Watson & Doolittle, 2011). The collection, organisation and analysis of various learning artefacts motivate students to process and make connections (Loreanzo & Ittelson, 2005a).

For reflections on learning, Lorenzo & Ittelson (2005a, 2005b) believe that e-portfolios encourage self-reflection and ‘involve exchange of ideas and feedback,’ enhancing information literacy. An in-depth learning involving ‘reflection, intrinsic motivation, story-telling, interconnections and real meaning making’ can be fostered, and students ‘learn by doing’ (Barrett, 2004; Cooper and Love, 2007, as cited in Buzzetto-More, 2010, p.66).

In relation to collaboration, Ahn (2004) views e-portfolio as an effective mechanism to encourage users to interact with peers, thus creating a good learning community. Students embrace learning from non-traditional activities (Wang, 2009, as cited in Buzzetto-More, 2010).

At HKU, how should we come up with solutions that are agile enough to meet these (still changing) needs? Please email us (enquiry@teli.hku.hk) with your ideas.

On July 23, TELI joined MBBS Year 5 students for an orientation to Medical Humanities. We’ve launched an e-portfolio system for their reflection writing exercise in the coming two years of clerkship.


  • Ahn, J. (2004). Electronic portfolios: Blending technology, accountability & assessment. T H E Journal. 31 (9).
  • Barrett, H. (2004). Electronic portfolios as digital stories of deep learning. Retrieved on 7/18/16 from: http://electronicportfolios.org/digistory/epstory.html
  • Buzzetto-More, N. (2010). Assessing the Efficacy and Effectiveness of an E-Portfolio used for summative assessment. Interdisciplinary journal of e-learning and learning objects, 6, 61-85.
  • Lopez-Fernandez, O., & Rodriguez-Illera, J. L. (January 01, 2009). Investigating university students’ adaptation to a digital learner course portfolio. Computers & Education, 52, 3, 608-616.
  • Lorenzo, G., & Ittelson, J. (2005a). An overview of e-portfolios. Educase Learning Initiative, 1-27.
  • Lorenzo, G., & Ittelson, J. (2005b). Demonstrating and assessing student learning with e-portfolios. Educause Learning Initiative Paper 3: 2005.
  • Watson, C. E., & Doolittle, P. E. (2011). ePortfolio pedagogy, technology, and scholarship: Now and in the future. Educational Technology, 51(5), 29-33.
Related Items 

What does the future hold for vernacular architecture in Asia? In this concluding episode, we will try to look into this question and examine tradition, modernity, and cultural sustainability in the context of the Asian vernacular built environment. Register to take the course for free at http://tinyurl.com/architecturemooc and join learners from around the world on July 26, 2016. Find out more about it here!

Sneak Preview ( Week 5 )

Course Trailer


Copyright © 2016 The University of Hong Kong. All Rights Reserved Contact Us