MOOCs and University Education: Experience, Lessons and Predictions

In a highly-engaging seminar organised by Information Technology Services, Professor Jeff Haywood (VP, CIO & Librarian, University of Edinburgh) shared his experiences, lessons learnt and predictions relating to MOOCs and university education.

Professor Haywood began his talk by outlining where digital education was at ten years ago: mainstreaming virtual learning environments (VLEs); employing learning activity management systems (LAMS) as a main model for course design; integrating e-portfolios into teaching and learning; and underpinning reflections of the use of technology with the ‘digital native’ and ‘digital immigrant’ rhetoric. Since then, there has been a substantial explosion in online applications and identities, evidenced by the open educational resource (OER) movement and the leaps in interconnectivity of people and information. No wonder then that MOOCs have entered the educational arena alongside a range of other innovations and paradigms such as gamification, virtual worlds, e-textbooks and adaptive learning.


Professor Haywood explained that these technologies and approaches are likely to move through a ‘hype cycle’, and that perceptions and actualisations of MOOCs, like other innovations, are likely to shift over time. It was therefore incredibly interesting to hear about how MOOCs are being leveraged at the University of Edinburgh to, amongst other things, build institutional reputation as an early adopter, explore new pedagogical ‘spaces’, share development experiences, and increase the university’s reach. With 16 MOOCs built and 19 MOOCs under construction, the University of Edinburgh has drawn on a huge amount of data to reflect on ways in which learners are engaging with this online environment and forecast probable MOOC developmental pathways. A few of these pathways could include: MOOCs being integrated into the university curriculum; MOOCs as an auto-cohorted group study; or MOOC content and curriculum taught by another college, university or tutor as a small private online course (SPOC).


Professor Haywood closed the seminar by taking a step back and proposing the question of what the ‘traditional’ university will look like in the coming years. The growth of technology-rich teaching and elearning environments which include on- and off-campus components for a broad range of learner types appeared to be a key theme in this discussion. Many thanks to Professor Haywood for sharing his valuable insights and we look forward to future collaborations!

A post from the e-learning Pedagogical Support Unit (EPSU)

ITS Project Update Briefings

Message from Information Technology Services

Dear Colleagues,

Invitation to the 2014 ITS Project Update Briefings

I have much pleasure to invite you to one of the following two repeated ITS Project Update Briefings for 2014 –

Session 1: 1 December (Monday) 14:30 (registration starts at 14:15)
Session 2: 4 December (Thursday) 09:30 (registration starts at 09:15)
Venue: 2nd Floor, KK Leung Building.

In these briefings, we are going to present a number of major projects to you, some of which will have a University-wide impact. The rundown of the two briefings are shown below –

1 Dec 4 Dec AGENDA
14:15 – 14:30 09:15 – 09:30 Registration
14:30 – 14:35 09:30 – 09:35 Opening Remark
Dr. Danny Tang
14:35 – 14:45 09:35 – 09:45 University Information Security Policy and Data Policy
Dr. Danny Tang
14:45 – 15:05 09:45 – 10:05 Enhancement of Information Security
Dr. P T Ho
15:05 – 15:25 10:05 – 10:25 Consolidation of eMail Systems
Mr. Peter Li
15:25 – 15:40 10:25 – 10:40 Tea break
Breakout A
(for Academic & Research staff)
Breakout B
(for Administrators)
15:40 – 16:00 10:40 – 11:00 Upgrade of Virtual (Digital) Learning Environment
Dr. M C Pong
Upgrade of University Smartcard Systems
Ms. Margaret Chung
16:00 – 16:20 11:00 – 11:20 Upgrade of Physical Learning Environment
Mrs. Toni Kelly
Document Management System
Mr. Peter Li
16:20 – 16:40 11:20 – 11:40 HPC/HTC Facilities & Support for Scientific Computation
Dr. P T Ho
Upgrade of Oracle Financials
Mr. Antony Hui/
Ms. Margaret Chung
16:40 – 17:00 11:40 – 12:00 HKU Mobile Services
Ms. Margaret Chung

In each briefing, we will start off by presenting several projects to all attendees followed by a tea break and then two parallel, breakout sessions with different focuses. Breakout A covers projects, which are relevant to academic and research staff; and Breakout B covers projects of concern primarily to Faculty and Departmental administrators.

The outlines of the presentations are at the end of this email.

We hope to solicit your initial views on each of the projects during the two briefings. Depending on your interests and feedback, we may arrange separate discussion sessions on specific projects afterwards.

Please register attendance through the following links:

Session 1 (1 December 2014, Monday, 14:30):

Session 2 (4 December 2014, Thursday, 09:30):

I look forward to discussing the projects with you and your staff.

Danny Tang

Project Outlines

University Information Security Policy and Data Policy

The University is in the process of engaging a consultant to establish an Information Security Policy and a Data Policy. In this session, the scope of work of this exercise will be presented.

Enhancement of Information Security

This session will give a summary on the new information security (IS) protection measures being implemented and planned, including (a) the Web Application Firewall and the Database Firewall that will soon be put into service for protecting the central web and database application systems against cyber-attacks from the Internet, (b) the enhancement plan for the central identity authentication and management system to mitigate the growing IS threats due to leaking of users’ HKU Portal UID/PIN, and (c) a pilot device profile register to safeguard against potential IS threats from unrecognized devices on the campus network.

Consolidation of eMail Systems

Over the years, multiple email systems of different generations have been implemented at different times to serve the University community. There are systems based on legacy Linux, Microsoft Exchange and cloud-based Google Apps for Education, which poses challenges to us in system administration and user support. Moreover, quite a few departments have their own departmental email servers, the functions of which could be better and more securely provided by the central email system. A project to consolidate the eMail systems is now underway to address the above issues. Details of the consolidation strategy will be elaborated in this session.

Breakout A

Upgrade of Virtual (Digital) Learning Environment

This session will report on the enhancement of the University’s virtual learning environment, covering the lecture capture service based on the Panopto system, which is well integrated with the Moodle learning management system, mobile access to Moodle, the Moodle courses archive system, and one-stop e-learning hub. These facilities and services help to enhance the student learning experience and support teachers’ teaching activities.

Upgrade of Physical Learning Environment

This session will report upon the findings of the recent staff and student learning space experience surveys and the response to that feedback by the Learning Environment Services Team. The presentation will include details about the development of Learning Space Design Guidelines, lecture theatre refurbishments, classroom upgrades and support Staff Training, all of which contribute to the enhancement of both the student learning experience and support for our teachers’ classroom activities.

HPC/HTC Facilities and Support for Scientific Computation

This session will discuss the work in progress for supporting cutting-edge research, including (a) the salient features and launching plan of the new High-Performance Computing (HPC) system of the latest technologies that will boost the processing power for supporting research by 10 times, (b) the experience with the recently deployed High Throughput Computing (HTC) facility and the improvement plan to provide better support for researchers, and (c) the strategy of developing future support for compute-intensive research projects.

Breakout B

Upgrade of University Smartcard Systems

In last year’s ITS Project Update briefing in November 2013, we presented the “University-wide smart card systems upgrade project” initiative. The upgrade of the University Smart Card, including the Staff Card, the Student Card and the Facilities Access Card, will have a great impact on the Smart Card Access Control and Identification Systems in existence across the University. This year, you will learn about the progress of this important upgrade project.

Document Management System

To cope with the increasing volume of hard copy documents handled by departments and the need of office space for document storage, ITS is setting up a Central Document Management System. Documents will be turned into searchable digital form and stored in an electronic file repository supporting full-text search, workflow and archive. The system aims to serve as a platform for document management, electronic form and workflow with roadmaps to integrate with other business processes in the University. An overview of the project will be presented in this session.

Upgrade of Oracle Financials

Oracle Financials (or “E-Business Suite” under its new name) is the main administrative application in support of the financial services in HKU. As an administrator in your faculty/department, come to hear about the coming upgrade; its main objectives and some of the key changes expected of the upgrade. You are also welcome to share your experiences of the financial services in the University.

HKU Mobile Services

To promote the branding of the University of Hong Kong and taking advantage of the proliferation of mobile devices, ITS has, together with a number of University administrative/professional departments, launched a University mobile services hub in 2012. The mobile services have grown and matured, and the “private” Staff Corner and Student Corner were introduced in 2013. To keep up with the pace of the global trend, especially amongst academic institutions, ITS would explore with you further development opportunities of the HKU Mobile Services.

Application for HKU Worldwide Undergraduate Student Exchange Programme 2015/16

Message from Office of International Student Exchange
Dear Student,

Please don’t forget to apply for the HKUWW Undergraduate Student Exchange Programme 2015/16. The application deadline is 5:00 p.m. December 1, 2014.

Application procedures can be found at

If you have missed the information sessions in October and November, please check out for the PowerPoints used in the sessions.

Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at

We look forward to receiving your application!

Best regards,
Office of International Student Exchange
G/F Fong Shu Chuen Amenities Centre

Reminder to an online e-Learning survey at HKU


Message from Professor George Tham, Associate Vice-President (Teaching & Learning)

Dear Colleagues,

The University of Hong Kong is committed to providing an education of the highest quality. Your valuable input on the e-Learning survey will help us to understand how we can provide a better physical and virtual learning environment as well as to enhance the teaching and learning experiences.

A little while ago we asked you to provide feedback on your e-Learning experience. Could you please take some time to complete the questionnaire which can be viewed by clicking on the URL below.

Your answers will remain anonymous and your survey responses will be kept strictly confidential.

Best regards,

Professor George Tham
Associate Vice-President (Teaching & Learning)
Professor, Department of Civil Engineering
Associate Dean (Quality Assurance), Faculty of Engineering
The University of Hong Kong