Teaching and Learning at The University of Hong Kong HKU

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Dear colleagues and students

The changing public health situation in Hong Kong means that we need to update our teaching arrangements for Semester 1 (S1), 2020-21.

In principle

We remain committed to a dual mode of teaching for UG and TPG courses in S1:

  • Online: all courses, apart from a few exceptions requiring hands-on engagement, will be available online throughout the semester. (Faculties will issue separate guidance to their students about any required hands-on teaching.)
  • Face to face: when it is safe to do so, we will also offer students the option of returning to campus for some f2f classes.

In practice

This is how S1 will look for UG and TPG courses:

  • Sept 1-21: all courses, apart from a few exceptions requiring hands-on engagement, will be delivered online only. (Faculties will issue separate guidance to their students about any required hands-on teaching.)
  • By Sept 1: I will issue a bulk email outlining our teaching arrangements for the period from Sept 22.
  • Sept 22: we hope to reinstate some f2f teaching for the remainder of S1, though in the event that may not be possible.
  • S1 as a whole: all courses will be available online, apart from a few exceptions requiring hands-on engagement. (Faculties will issue separate guidance to their students about any required hands-on teaching.)
  • Final exams will take place online, unless there are special requirements or all the students taking a course are in Hong Kong and it is safe for them to attend an in-person exam.

Assessment choices

As before, we are offering all UG and TPG students three assessment choices for S1 courses: letter grade, pass/fail, late drop. Assessment choices can be submitted through SIS from 09:00 on Monday September 28 to 23:59 on Saturday October 10. This deadline is final, and no modifications will be permitted once it has passed. I would like to reiterate here what I have said before. We strongly advise all students to think carefully when opting for pass/fail grading. Courses that are simply passed will be recorded as P on the transcript, with no impact on the GPA calculation. For UG students in particular, this could have important knock-on effects. Internally, we rely on SGPA data for elective opportunities, such as academic exchange and other funded programmes. Externally, employers and universities around the world examine transcripts in some detail when taking decisions about jobs and postgraduate study. Students without solid SGPA data from S1, 2020-21 may therefore place themselves at a significant disadvantage. Please consult your teachers, your academic advisers, the Academic Advising Office, your family and your friends before submitting your assessment choices.

Teaching support

I think most teachers already know about the support for online teaching and learning offered by TELI, CETL and ITS. Hundreds of colleagues have attended each of TELI’s online workshops on Virtual Flipped Classroom Design (https://tl.hku.hk/elearningblog/). Many colleagues have also registered for CETL’s Summer Sandbox Series on Creative Online Course Design (https://www.cetl.hku.hk/sandbox2020/). We also have tech experts and resources available to help with online teaching problems (WhatsApp: 6437-8034). Do contact us with any issues that arise.

Finally, and as ever, many thanks to everyone for enabling us to keep teaching and learning at HKU in challenging circumstances. Please consult our website about teaching and learning in S1 (https://tl.hku.hk/teachonline/). Please contact me with queries (ian.holliday@hku.hk).

Best wishes, Ian

Professor Ian Holliday
Vice-President (Teaching and Learning)
The University of Hong Kong


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Dear colleagues and students

I’m writing to update you on our teaching arrangements for Semester 1 (S1), 2020-21.

As I said in my bulk email of May 26, our core aim in Academic Year 2020-21 is to make a gradual and partial return to face-to-face (f2f) teaching. We know we don’t have enough large classrooms to deliver all lectures f2f, so some will go online. But for smaller lectures and small-group work undertaken in tutorials, laboratories, studios and clinical settings, we will return to f2f teaching from September 1. Full details are here – https://tl.hku.hk/teachonline/class-and-examination-schedules/.

In recent weeks, however, we’ve received a stream of emails from UG and TPG students currently living outside Hong Kong who worry about how to return to campus for S1. In some cases, the journey back looks almost impossible because there are no scheduled flights. In other cases, the journey looks hazardous because of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. We’ve decided to offer these students the choice of f2f or online teaching in S1.

What we therefore envisage for S1 is as follows:
Teachers are asked to ensure all their course materials will be available for students who are not able to return to Hong Kong. For lectures, either live streaming or recording and uploading to Moodle (or both) should be fine. For small-group work, enabling students who are not in Hong Kong to connect with the class through Zoom will probably be the best option.
UG and TPG students who are in Hong Kong will be expected to come to campus for required f2f classes. They may choose to participate in non-required course components (often lectures are in this category) either f2f or online. But for required course components in which attendance is checked (small-group work is typically in this category) they will be expected to come to campus.
UG and TPG students who are not in Hong Kong will have the choice of taking their courses online. We will not be able to provide an exactly equivalent experience in all cases, since some elements of our teaching, such as laboratories, studios and clinical work, cannot easily be moved online. Nevertheless, we will do our best to support the learning of students who are not in Hong Kong.
Final examinations will take place online, unless all the students taking a course are in Hong Kong. In those cases only, the final examination will take place in person in an examination hall on campus.

We recognize that this modification of our teaching arrangements for S1 will generate some variability in teaching and learning since, as I already mentioned, it’s difficult to move some elements of our courses online. This is also likely to be quite challenging for many teachers, and we’re ready to offer full assistance through central units such as TELI, CETL and ITS. Balanced against all that is the flexibility we’re now able to offer students who face difficult journeys back to Hong Kong. I should reiterate that such students have a choice – to return to campus for S1, or to keep in touch with their S1 courses online.

As ever, please contact me with feedback and queries.

Best wishes, Ian

Professor Ian Holliday
Vice-President (Teaching and Learning)
The University of Hong Kong

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Leadership for the 31st Century (HKU Summer Leadership Forum with Faculty of Education)
July 6, 2020 (Mon) 5:00pm HKT ⁣

Professor A. Lin Goodwin, Dean, and four alumni from the Faculty of Education will share their recent experience with the COVID-19 pandemic as a context for thinking about leadership for the long haul that transcends the 21st century. The alumni are graduates from our Bachelor of Education and Bachelor of Social Sciences, Postgraduate Diploma in Education, Master of Education, and Master of Science in Information Technology in Education programmes, now working in different organisations in and outside Hong Kong. The diversity of their experience will be interesting and insightful to students, teachers, as well as anyone with a heart for education.⁣

**This forum is part of the HKU Summer Leadership Forum series. 10 forums with each of the ten HKU faculty deans will be held in July and August 2020. ⁣

To join the forum, please visit HKU 100 or https://twitter.com/hkuniversity ⁣

For enquiries, please contact the Vice-President (Teaching and Learning) Office at hcm00101@hku.hk.

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Message from Vice President (Teaching and Learning)

Dear colleagues

I’m writing with information about central T&L support this summer.

Chi Wah studios

Many colleagues are keen to make use of the summer to prepare online teaching materials. For the months of July and August, we’re therefore opening five studios in Chi Wah Learning Commons for recording and editing course content. All five rooms will be supported by experienced TeLi colleagues, and by summer interns recruited for their expertise. Teachers can book an initial one-hour consultation session at https://appointment.teli.hku.hk/. They can also arrange follow-up assistance if need be. When making your first booking, please provide a brief statement of the input you require. From September onwards, we’ll retain two of the five Chi Wah studios.

WhatsApp hotline

As before, TeLi will operate a WhatsApp hotline for e-learning queries. The number is 6437-8034. We aim to respond to all queries within 10 minutes during regular office hours. Please do not phone this number, as calls will not be answered. But please do send a text whenever you encounter any e-learning problems. This hotline will continue to function throughout Semester 1.

TechSmith Camtasia

We’ve purchased a TechSmith Camtasia 2020 site license for all HKU staff and students. ITS will send out access details in early July. Camtasia is an easy-to-use, all-in-one screen recorder and video editor. It enables you to create teaching videos with screen recording functions, and allows for easy editing of recorded videos for upload to Moodle.Online tutorials are at https://www.techsmith.com/tutorial-camtasia.html. We will retain our Camtasia license for at least the next three years.

Existing studios

All year round, we have bookable studios on the Centennial Campus and in the Main Library. They don’t have the dedicated support provided for the Chi Wah studios over the summer months, but they’re still an excellent resource for colleagues with some understanding of what they plan to do.

TeLi Studios, Centennial Campus (CPD1.46, Jockey Club Tower): https://tips.teli.hku.hk/

Editing Rooms, 2/F Main Library: https://libguides.lib.hku.hk/c.php?g=894602&p=6442213


TeLi will conduct a series of webinars on online teaching and flipped classrooms on five successive Fridays during the summer. Registration details will be circulated by bulk email.

Virtual Flipped Classroom Design (Video production)

Date: 10 July (Fri)
Time: 11:30am – 12:30pm
Speakers: Dr Leon Lei, Ms Crystal Luo, Ms Sharon Keung
Registration: https://tl.hku.hk/elearningblog/?pid=30453

Virtual Flipped Classroom Design (Lecturing)
Date: 17 July (Fri)
Time: 11:30am – 12:30pm
Speakers: Dr Leon Lei, Ms Sharon Keung

Virtual Flipped Classroom Design (Group work)
Date: 24 July (Fri)
Time: 11:30am – 12:30pm
Speakers: Dr Wincy Chan

Virtual Flipped Classroom Design (Assessment)
Date: 31 July (Fri)
Time: 11:30am – 12:30pm
Speakers: Dr Leon Lei, Ms Sharon Keung

From Classroom to Remote Teaching
Date: 7 August (Fri)
Time: 11:30am – 12:30pm
Speakers: Dr Wincy Chan

Contact us

Technical questions: WhatsApp 6437-8034 or contact ITS at https://www.its.hku.hk/service-desk
Pedagogical issues: contact CETL at https://www.cetl.hku.hk/ or cetlhku@hku.hk
Policy issues: drop me an email at ian.holliday@hku.hk

Finally, a website with T&L resources for the coming academic year is here: https://tl.hku.hk/teachonline/

Best wishes, Ian
Professor Ian Holliday
Vice-President (Teaching and Learning)
The University of Hong Kong

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HKU launches two new programmes, the “HKU TPG Scholarship for UG Class of 2020” and the “HKU Internship Programme” for undergraduate students of the 2020 graduating class, to recruit and nurture aspiring graduates in pursuit of further education or a chance to gain experience in the workplace. For more information about the two programmes, please visit [https://www.hku.hk/press/news_detail_21197.html]

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Dear colleagues and students

I’m writing to inform you about our teaching arrangements for the Summer Semester and Academic Year 2020-21. Our core aim is to make a gradual and partial return to face-to-face (f2f) teaching. To do that, we will have to observe detailed health and safety protocols covering the entire campus, which will be announced well in advance. This email only addresses scheduling issues.

The broad parameters we will observe for teaching are listed below. Where circumstances allow, there may be variation within individual programmes.

  • Small-group classes (up to 25 students) will be scheduled as normal.
  • Lectures will be scheduled in classrooms that can accommodate at least twice as many students as are in the class. Thus, a lecture with 60 students will be scheduled in a classroom that can accommodate at least 120 students.
  • For TPG courses, our available teaching rooms will enable us to deliver f2f lectures for most classes of up to 90 students.
  • For UG programme courses, our available teaching rooms will enable us to deliver f2f lectures for almost all classes of up to 90 students.
  • For UG Common Core courses, our available teaching rooms will enable us to deliver f2f lectures for roughly half of our courses with 120 students.
  • The Grand Hall will enable us to schedule a small number of large lectures (up to 300 students) for TPG and UG students.
  • However, most courses with more than 90 students will deliver their lectures online.

Summer Semester
Building on these parameters, we will make a gradual return to f2f teaching for the Summer Semester. We will also offer a small number of online UG courses for students who would like to pick up some credits but will not be in HK.

Academic Year 2020-21
In 2020-21, we will continue with partial f2f teaching:

  • TPG programmes
    Small-group classes of up to 25 students: f2f
    Most lecture classes of up to 90 students: f2f
    Other lecture classes: online (apart from a small number in the Grand Hall)
  • UG programmes
    Small-group classes of up to 25 students: f2f
    Almost all lecture classes of up to 90 students: f2f
    Other lecture classes: online (apart from a small number in the Grand Hall)
  • UG: Common Core
    Small-group classes of up to 25 students: f2f
    Lecture classes of up to 120 students: roughly half f2f, roughly half online
    Mega classes of up to 288 students: just a few f2f in the Grand Hall
  • All TPG and UG courses
    For the first three weeks of S1, we will cater for the needs of TPG and UG students who are unable to come to campus because of visa, quarantine and other issues. Mostly this will be done by making course materials available both f2f and online for that period.

Technical support
As there will continue to be a significant element of online teaching in the months ahead, we are actively enhancing our technical support for both teachers and students.

With so many aspects of the future uncertain, we can’t be sure everything will unfold exactly as planned. As of now, though, this is how things look. Should there be any changes, we will inform you as quickly as possible. In the meantime, please do drop me a line with any queries (ian.holliday@hku.hk).

Best wishes for the summer – Ian

Professor Ian Holliday

Dear colleagues

I’m writing to update you on our online examination arrangements through OLEX. All exams making use of the OLEX platform are required to follow guidelines prepared by the Examinations Office.

Basic information:-

  • The Examinations Office guidelines are available at http://www.exam.hku.hk/.
  • Teachers and invigilators please access ‘Forms and Links’.
  • Students are asked to access ‘University Examinations and Examination Timetables’.
  • Online proctoring will take place through Zoom, with students’ identities checked by invigilators.
  • All colleagues are reminded to upgrade to Zoom 5.0 here.

We ask teachers and department administrators please to:-

  • Ensure the student lists in Moodle sub-courses are clean. All sit-in students and duplicated guest accounts need to be removed.
  • Upload exam papers to OLEX at anytime from Monday, May 11 to 30 minutes before the start of the exam.
  • Inform students and invigilators before the exam about any course-specific instructions (including whether use of calculators is allowed, whether students should type or write their answers, which the type of script file (doc or pdf) is acceptable, how the webcam should be set up during the exam, and so on). Identical instructions should also be included in the exam paper.
  • Maintain close teacher-invigilator communication throughout the exam period, and especially for the first 30 minutes of the exam (when students are allowed to raise questions of clarification about the exam paper).

We ask invigilators please to:-

  • Login to Zoom at https://hku.zoom.us before Thursday April 30 if you have not used Zoom before.
  • Launch the Zoom meeting and start the Panopto recording at least 30 minutes before the start of the exam and admit students from the waiting room. The student list for each exam can be obtained from OLEX.

We ask colleagues to make note of these additional points:-

  • Teachers and invigilators are asked NOT to host any other Zoom meeting during the exam timeslot to avoid any unwanted interference with the exam.
  • Invigilators are not allowed to open the exam paper before the start of the exam.
  • Students’ script files will be available for download six hours after the end of the exam.
  • In case an invigilator is unable to invigilate an allocated exam session, the teacher should assume the invigilation duties or arrange for a delegate to do so. If no delegate is available, please send an urgent email to olexhelp@hku.hk to seek assistance in finding a backup invigilator.
  • Administrators from the Examinations Office may enter any Zoom meeting at any time for any exam for inspection purposes.
  • While the University will remind the students to register on OLEX, it would be good if teachers could reinforce the message by reaching out to their students. It would also be helpful if teachers and administrators could check before the examination to ensure that students have registered on OLEX.

To familiarize everyone with the OLEX system, TeLi, ITS and the Examinations Office will co-host three identical online training sessions for staff. Dates and registration details are as follows:-

Session 1: May 5, 2020 (Tuesday) 16:45-17:45
Session 2: May 7, 2020 (Thursday) 10:45-11:45
Session 3: May 8, 2020 (Friday) 16:45-17:45
Registration: https://hkuems1.hku.hk/hkuems/ec_hdetail.aspx?ueid=69633 

A Teacher Drill Platform will be available for two weeks from Tuesday, May 5 at https://drill-epload.hku.hk/exam/. Teachers will be able to view their courses on OLEX from Monday, May 11. Invigilators will only be allowed access to courses they will invigilate, together with the relevant Zoom links. Demonstration videos for students and invigilators can also be found at https://hku.to/exam1920_training. Later this week we will email all students about the exam guidelines, online training sessions and other related matters.

For questions about exam arrangements, please contact the Examinations Office at exam@hku.hk. For technical questions about OLEX, please contact ITS at olexhelp@hku.hk. For questions about e-learning, please contact Dr Tyrone Kwok (tyrone.kwok@hku.hk) or Dr Leon Lei (culei@hku.hk) of TeLi. For other matters, please drop me a line (ian.holliday@hku.hk). Many thanks to all, as ever.

Best wishes, Ian

Professor Ian Holliday
Vice-President (Teaching and Learning)

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SLEQ now open for all first, second and final year undergraduate students; final year taught postgraduate students.

Please click here to enter the questionnaire.

HKU conducts institutional surveys on students’ learning experiences regularly to yield information for analysis and renewal of curriculum and pedagogy. The findings help ensure and enhance the quality of learning experiences.

We now invite all first, second and final year undergraduate students to complete the Student Learning Experience Questionnaire – Undergraduate (SLEQ – UG); and all final year taught-postgraduate students to fill out the Student Learning Experience Questionnaire – Taught Postgraduate (SLEQ – TPG). Both surveys are conducted online. While different curricula may have different start times for the survey, all targeted students should have received / will receive an e-mail invitation on the start day which provides you with a link that directs to the survey. You can also access the questionnaire through the “My e-learning” tab in HKU Portal, as well as this direct link: http://sleq.hku.hk/1920.

It takes about 10 minutes to complete the questionnaire. Please rest assured that all information collected will remain strictly confidential. Your opinions are of great importance and are highly appreciated and valued. For more details about SLEQ, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions page here. Should you have any enquiries or technical problems, please do not hesitate to contact the Teaching and Learning Evaluation and Measurement Unit at surveytl@hku.hk or 3917- 4787.

Important message from Professor Ian Holliday, Vice-President & Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Teaching & Learning)

Dear students

In light of the recent surge in the number of COVID-19 infection cases and following the HK government’s advice, the University has decided that final year Undergraduate face-to-face teaching and any Taught Postgraduate face-to-face teaching will be delayed for two weeks, in order to minimise the chance of infection in the community.

The pandemic situation is changing rapidly and we are committed to ensuring that teaching and learning can be conducted as safely as possible. We very much appreciate your understanding and cooperation. Please stay vigilant and continue to make personal health your top priority.

Professor Ian Holliday
Vice-President & Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Teaching & Learning)

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Dear colleagues

Just a quick supplement to my earlier email sent to both colleagues and students.


We’ve upgraded our Zoom licence for the next 12 months. Previously, HKU Zoom accounts each had 500MB storage for cloud recordings. Now there’s no storage limit, though any recording uploaded by a teacher to the Zoom cloud will be removed after six months. Before this happens, ITS will send a notification to remind the account holder to download the relevant file to a PC or laptop.

Storing files

For storing files, teachers may make use of the HKU Video Streaming Server, which offers 150GB to each account holder. Teachers can apply for an account via CF43. A user guide can be found here.

Teaching rooms

A reminder, more for future semesters than the current one: the University has 159 centrally-managed classrooms, and all are fully equipped with Panopto and Zoom facilities.


Best wishes, Ian

Professor Ian Holliday
Vice-President (Teaching and Learning)
The University of Hong Kong

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