Teaching and Learning at The University of Hong Kong HKU

 > About the New Semester   > e-learning Blog    > HKU Online Learning & MOOCs    > URFP


Message from Vice President (Teaching and Learning)

Dear colleagues

(Please also read our update on Online Teaching and Learning Resources dated February 7, 2020)

In the past couple of days I’ve had opportunities to discuss online learning with the Associate Deans (T&L) and, when visiting with the President, with colleagues in the Faculties of Arts and Social Sciences. In recent weeks I’ve also had many email conversations with colleagues and students. I figure it makes sense to circulate some of the lessons learned in the form of another FAQ list.

Can the assessment weightings for a course be changed?

This issue has already been discussed within Faculties. The answer is yes, but the window for making such changes will soon close. Normally by this point in the semester we would require full class consent (all students). However, until 4:00pm on February 21 we’re in the extended add/drop period, so as yet there’s no fixed class for each course. This means we can make changes more easily. All colleagues need to do is revise the assessment weightings as they see fit, inform all students registered for the class, update the relevant course information on SIS, and send a record of the change to Faculty Board for endorsement. Students who feel disadvantaged by the change will be able to drop the course. While this is not an ideal option, it is still a choice. Note that this must be done before February 21. Thereafter, full class consent will be necessary.

Should the assessment weightings for a course be changed?

If a course taught this semester relies heavily on a proctored final exam, it would be a good idea, where possible, to reduce the weighting for that component and boost the weighting for other assessed tasks. At this stage in the unfolding coronavirus situation, we remain committed to holding in-person exams in examination halls at the end of the semester. However, if the disruption becomes more severe, we may have to revise our assessment arrangements. Were that to happen, it would be good not to be too reliant on final exams, which we know generate issues that are difficult to manage.

Should teachers require students to switch on their camera and microphone for interactive classes?

I discussed this issue at length with the Associate Deans. We agreed that at the level of University policy we should not require this because it could be intrusive in the home environment in which many students study (even though Zoom has a function enabling the background to be blurred or replaced). At the same time, we recognized that teachers may have strong reasons to encourage students to adopt this practice. A colleague in Arts also made the point that in some courses it may be necessary to ask students to do this because of the nature of the learning materials and tasks.

How can students be encouraged to participate in interactive classes held online?

Many teachers report very positive experiences with online interaction. In particular, use of the chat box function in Zoom can trigger participation from students who ordinarily are quite recessive. Others face challenges and problems, however. One way to encourage interaction would be to introduce an assessment component devoted to participation. Even a 10-15% allocation could make a difference. There are also Zoom functions, such as the ‘attendance tracker’, that enable teachers to monitor student participation and intervene with a question or private message.

How can students be encouraged to view online lectures?

One suggestion made by a colleague in Social Sciences is to ask students to complete a weekly assignment consisting of a brief account of the lecture and a short list of questions related to the material covered in it.

How are students currently located in the Mainland connecting with HKU?

For our online exam (OLEX) platform at the end of the first semester, we secure a leased line from Alibaba. This enables students located in the Mainland to connect with HKU as if they were in Hong Kong. The line is not monitored because it uses a point-to-point https protocol, where the ‘s’ stands for ‘secure’. All traffic between the two points is encrypted. For online T&L in this semester, we have again secured a leased line from Alibaba.

How can teachers stay in touch with their students during this period of online T&L?

Moodle remains the best way to keep in touch with students. In addition to any uploaded materials, please do post weekly consultation hours for students to schedule individual conversations with you (using, say, WhatsApp or Zoom). Many students have questions, but they no longer have the option of catching hold of a teacher after a lecture or calling by during office hours. This is also a way to keep the academic advising function going.

How can colleagues share good practice and lessons learned from online T&L?

Some Faculties have created online platforms for teachers to post good and bad experiences of online learning. This is also something we could consider doing for HKU as a whole, linked to Faculty pages. In many Faculties informal groups of colleagues are coming together to share experience and provide mutual support. This is clearly a very welcome development.

How can upload speeds on Zoom be enhanced?

We recognize that Zoom is an outstanding T&L platform and we’re keen to ensure it’s fully available to colleagues. At present we’re exploring options for enhancing Zoom functionality at HKU. In the meantime, however, for obvious reasons upload speeds are better at the ends of the day. It’s also possible to download, say, a recorded lecture from Zoom to a desktop computer or laptop and then upload for students to view through Microsoft OneDrive. Details are available here: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/201362473-Local-Recording?mobile_site=true .

How can teachers learn more about online T&L?

We offer support to teachers through:

– TELI training sessions scheduled by some Faculties, and hopefully ultimately by all Faculties since the feedback is uniformly excellent;
– Updates on TELI website: https://tl.hku.hk/2020/02/online-teaching-and-learning-for-staff-updated-february-7-2020/ ;
– TELI gadgets and tools: https://teli.hku.hk/e-learning-resources/ ;
– TELI e-learning quick start guide;
– TELI e-learning demonstration videos;
– TELI individual consultation sessions with Leon Lei (9162 3384) and Tyrone Kwok (5964 8396), who can both be reached via WhatsApp;
– CETL website: https://www.cetl.hku.hk/ ;
– CETL designated Faculty liaison persons: visit https://www.cetl.hku.hk/ , then click “Support for online teaching and learning” (the first iconic picture on the left-to-right scrolling banner).

As before, many thanks to all and please drop me a line with queries.

Best wishes, Ian

Professor Ian Holliday
Vice President (Teaching and Learning)

Related Items 

Teaching and Learning Arrangement (Updated February 10)

Dear colleagues and students

The University is continuing to draw on expert medical knowledge in monitoring the coronavirus situation in Hong Kong. While all of us are eager to return to teaching and learning in early March, we realize that it is now unlikely that scheduled classes on campus will be able to resume so quickly. As long as there is risk of infection in a crowded classroom, we cannot deliver face-to-face teaching. I’m writing to inform you of how we envisage the remainder of the semester unfolding.

Please note that the teaching and assessment schedules for professional undergraduate programmes may differ from those described below, and will be announced separately by programme directors.

Undergraduate programmes

Now – Feb 15 As you know, we are devoting these two weeks to online learning.
Feb 17 – 29 As announced previously, we will take a recess for the final two weeks of the month to enable teachers to make course adjustments for the rest of the semester, and to enable students to engage in self-study based on the three weeks of teaching already undertaken in the semester.
Mar 2 – 28 Since the coronavirus situation in Hong Kong is likely to prevent us from resuming campus teaching in March, we will return to online learning for these four weeks. While some students may be able to visit the campus for specific activities, there will be no scheduled face-to-face classes. We plan to make use of the reading week (March 9-14) for online classes, though we will of course respond sympathetically to absence requests from colleagues and students with pre-existing commitments.
Mar 30 – May 16 We hope to resume scheduled classes on campus for these seven weeks. Should that not be possible because of ongoing health and safety concerns in Hong Kong, we will make an early announcement of alternative arrangements. (In the event that it becomes safe to return to on-campus teaching before the end of March, we will seize the opportunity and make an announcement to all students at least 14 days in advance.)
May 18 – Jun 6 We intend to conduct proctored exams during the assessment period, and will require all students taking exams to be present in the examination hall. We will move the assessment period back by one week, with the aim of bringing the semester to a close in early June. We have heard from many students, especially in the final year, about the importance of concluding the semester within a reasonable timeframe. We will make every effort to do that.


Taught postgraduate programmes

We are adopting a flexible approach to the scheduling of taught postgraduate programmes. Faculties or programme teams will announce the detailed teaching arrangements to their own cohorts of taught postgraduate students.

Research postgraduate programmes

University policy encourages research postgraduate students with no immediate need to visit the campus to undertake their research, and liaise with their supervisors, remotely. Students who need to conduct their research in a campus setting, such as a laboratory, must adhere to Government and University infection control protocols before returning to campus. All research postgraduate students should discuss their study plans in detail with their supervisors. We will respond sympathetically to requests for candidature extensions necessitated by disruptions experienced during this semester, and for tuition waivers for the extended period of studies.

Visiting campus

One general reminder during the current coronavirus situation in Hong Kong: colleagues and students who visit the campus must adhere to Government and University infection control guidelines. We will have no alternative but to take strict disciplinary action against anyone not adhering to them.

Once again, many thanks for your understanding and cooperation as we seek to navigate the remainder of an unprecedented and unpredictable semester. As before, please stay vigilant and continue to make personal health your top priority.

Professor Ian Holliday

Vice-President & Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Teaching & Learning)

Important message from The President and Vice-Chancellor

Dear Students, Colleagues, Alumni and Friends, 

2020: Build and Rebuild 

The miracle of Hong Kong is rooted in its dynamism and resilience. As a beacon of knowledge, our university has stood tall for more than a century. 2019 was tumultuous, but not once did we waver in our faith in our mission and in the city’s future. 

In the most difficult moments, we came together. I salute you and thank you for your courage, determination and commitment to our university. We value diverse opinions and even opposite ideas in a community that treasures inclusiveness and respect for others’ views.  We insist on civility on campus and rational debate that challenges one another. 

Our teachers and staff have been reaching out to students and as the new semester begins in late January 2020, we are planning more engagement opportunities in big and small groups, formal or informal.  We, as a university community, will build bridges together and search for solutions.

At the same time, colleagues have scaled new heights of scholarship and discovery that won accolades and acclaim, all converging to help make the world a better place. We launched six new interdisciplinary Bachelor of Arts and Sciencesdual degree programmes with top-tier international partners and many other initiatives to meet the needs of a changing world and new generations.  Our Common Core and Experiential Learning won top awards, locally and worldwide. To enrich our own talent hub, we launched the Presidential Post-doctoral Fellowship and Presidential PhD Scholarship, and vigorously recruited young scholars with the Meeting of Minds and a new Outstanding Young Professorships scheme.  

Looking ahead, we will build five new student residences and in collaboration with the world’s best universities, we will embark on cutting edge research and transform lives with the InnoHK schemes to be launched soon. The Tech Landmark on the Main Campus with its new institutes, the expansion of the Medical Campus and the new Institute of Advanced Dentistry are all symbols of our ambitious vision.  

I invite all of you — students, colleagues, alumni and friends — to come together on our university’s unique journey of learning and discovery. It may not always be a smooth voyage, but we are here to innovate and to create knowledge to advance humanity.  

Merry Christmas and Happy 2020 to you and your families!  

Xiang Zhang
President and Vice-Chancellor



Message from Vice-President and Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Teaching and Learning)

Dear Colleagues and Students,

I am very pleased to announce the recipients of the University’s Teaching Excellence Awards 2019. The Selection Panel was deeply impressed with the awardees’ dedication to teaching, their tireless and creative efforts to make learning enjoyable and challenging, and the impact that they have made on their students’ learning.

University Distinguished Teaching Award

Ms. Alice S.C. Lee, Department of Law, Faculty of Law

Outstanding Teaching Award

Individual awards
Dr. Sze-wei Ang, School of Humanities (Comparative Literature), Faculty of Arts
Professor Pauline Chiu, Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science
Dr. Brian H.Y. Chung, Department of Paediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine
Dr. Caroline E. Dingle, School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science
Dr. Wai-chi Ho, School of Chinese, Faculty of Arts
Ms. Julienne Jen, Department of Professional Legal Education, Faculty of Law

Team awards
Professor Janny H.C. Leung (Leader) of the Faculty of Arts, Dr. Marco M.H. Wan of the Faculty of Law, Dr. Daniel C. Matthews of the Faculty of Law and Dr. Anya M. Adair of the Faculties of Arts and Law for BA & LLB Programme Curriculum

Early Career Teaching Award

Ms. Daisy T.M. Cheung, Department of Law, Faculty of Law
Dr. Benjamin L. Moorhouse, Faculty of Education

Teaching Innovation Award (Team)

Professor Chak-sing Lau (Leader), Dr. Julie Y. Chen, Professor Gilberto K.K. Leung, Dr. George L. Tipoe and Dr. Gordon T.C. Wong of the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine for Re-imagining Medical Education: An Enrichment Year in the Core MBBS Curriculum
Mr. David S. Lee (Leader) and Mr. David L. Bishop of Faculty of Business and Economics for FinTech Ethics & Risk (HKUx’s FinTech Massive Online Open Course)

I would like to thank our external assessor Professor Anthony Smith (Vice-Provost (Education & Student Affairs) of the University College London) for providing us with expert advice during the final selection process. I would also like to thank the other Panel members: Professor Grahame Bilbow, Dr. Janet Borland, and Mr. Daniel Lei (student representative) for their assistance in this important exercise.

Please join me in congratulating the awardees!

Professor Ian Holliday
Vice-President and Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Teaching and Learning)
Chair, Selection Panel for Teaching Excellence Awards 2019

Dear students 

In my message dated November 19, the deadline to indicate your assessment options (letter grading, pass/fail grading, late drop) was set at 5pm today.

Unfortunately, the HKU IT system has been unstable today. Six Faculties have been affected: Architecture, Dentistry, Law, Medicine, Science, Social Sciences. The deadline for students from these six Faculties to indicate their assessment options is therefore extended to 9:30am tomorrow (December 7).

If you are a student from one of these six Faculties and are finding it difficult to indicate your choices on the system, you may fill in the form here and send it back to sisenrol@hku.hk .

There is no deadline extension for students from the other four Faculties, as they were not affected by the system instability today.

We are trying our best to fix the system, and we apologise for the inconvenience caused.

Best wishes, Ian

Professor Ian Holliday
Vice-President (Teaching and Learning)

Related Items 

Congratulations! HKU’s Common Core Teaching Team wins the University Grants Committee Teaching Award 2019! Here, receiving the award at the UGC office are (left to right) Mr Matthew Pryor, Professor Gina Marchetti, Director of Common Core Professor Gray Kochhar-Lindgren, Dr Xiao Hu, and Dr Julian Tanner. Learn more about #HKU Common Core courses and the team’s outstanding achievements at http://www.hku.hk/press/news_detail_20033.html

> Preparing for Experiential Learning: a video resource pack

Preparing for Experiential Learning: a video resource pack – helping students get the best out of their experiential learning

Experiential learning is a very important part of the many learning opportunities available at The University of Hong Kong. In collaboration with teaching staff, students and a range of units from across the university, The Centre for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning has, on behalf of the Gallant Ho Experiential Learning Centre, developed a video resource pack to help HKU students prepare themselves for experiential learning.


Preparing for Experiential Learning: a video resource pack is open to every student at The University of Hong Kong. Students are free to watch all or any of these modules or any combination of videos from across modules that they think will be relevant to their learning context. They can do so either on their own or with the supervision of their teachers.


The topics covered in Preparing for Experiential Learning were selected on the basis of a review of experiential learning projects at HKU to date, and they have been tested through student surveys of their perceived usefulness to HKU students. In the thirty videos in the resource pack, students will hear a number of teachers and fellow students sharing their experiences of a wide range of experiential learning activities from their own distinct perspectives. They will also get advice from fellow students on the basis of the lessons these students have learnt while on experiential learning.


Preparing for Experiential Learning consists of five separate modules. Module One contains videos that introduce students to what experiential learning is, how it helps them learn, and how they might be assessed during or after experiential learning. Module Two contains videos that help students manage their finances, logistical arrangements, personal safety, culture shock, and issues such as ethical photography during experiential learning. Module Three consists of videos to help students develop the interview skills, team working skills and communication skills they may need while undertaking experiential learning. Module Four contains video support for students to set about preparing learning products. Module Five consists of videos that help students decide on some of the key aspects to reflect on in any specific experiential learning context.


And finally…
This video resource pack could not have been produced without the funding support it received from the Gallant Ho Experiential Learning Fund and the time generously donated by a range of units (TELI, CEDARS, CAES, HKU Horizons, GHELC), and by teaching staff and students from across The University of Hong Kong. We should like to thank everyone for the support for this worthwhile project!

Related Items 


Message from Vice-President and Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Teaching and Learning)

Dear Colleagues and Students,

I am very pleased to announce the recipients of the University’s Teaching Excellence Awards 2018. The Selection Panel was deeply impressed with the awardees’ dedication to teaching, their tireless and creative efforts to make learning enjoyable and challenging, and the impact that they have made on their students’ learning.

University Distinguished Teaching Award

Dr. Michael G. Botelho, Faculty of Dentistry

Outstanding Teaching Award

Individual awards
Dr. Janet L. Borland, School of Modern Languages and Cultures, Faculty of Arts
Ms. Tanya J. Kempston, Faculty of Education
Professor Alice S.T. Wong, School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science
Professor Daniel F.K. Wong, Department of Social Work and Social Administration, Faculty of Social Sciences
Dr. Patcy P.S. Yeung, Faculty of Education

Team awards
Dr. Gary J. Harfitt (Leader), Ms. Jessie M.L. Chow and Ms. Candace W.F. Mok of the Faculty of Education for Nurturing today’s students and tomorrow’s teachers through experiential learning (EL)
Professor Gray M. Kochhar-Lindgren (Leader) of the Common Core Office, Professor Gina Marchetti of the Faculty of Arts, Mr. Mathew R. Pryor of the Faculty of Architecture and Dr. Julian A. Tanner of the LKS Faculty of Medicine for Transdisciplinarity in Action: Creating Multiscalar Teaching and Learning Platforms in the Common Core

Early Career Teaching Award

Dr. Elizabeth A. Barrett, Faculty of Education
Mr. David S. Lee, Faculty of Business and Economics
Dr. Tom McDonald, Department of Sociology, Faculty of Social Sciences
Dr. Dirk Schnieders, Department of Computer Science, Faculty of Engineering

Teaching Innovation Award

Dr. Michael G. Botelho, Faculty of Dentistry

I would like to thank our external assessor Professor Anthony Smith (Vice-Provost (Education & Student Affairs) of the University College London) for providing us with expert advice in situ during the final selection process. I would also like to thank the other Panel members: Dr. Shahla Ali, Professor Grahame Bilbow and Mr. Daniel Lei (student representative) for their assistance in this important exercise.

Please join me in congratulating the awardees. I look forward to seeing you all at the Award Presentation Ceremony on Monday March 25, 2019.

Professor Ian Holliday
Selection Panel for Teaching Excellence Awards 2018

Message from Centre for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning

Dr. Cecilia Chan from the Centre for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning, HKU has been invited to speak at the webinar organized by UNESCO on 1 November 2018 (Thursday) from 3:30 pm – 5:30 pm (HK Time). We cordially invite you to join.

‘Can we judge a student’s performance based on exam scores alone? Does doing well in examinations signify learning? In the Asia-Pacific, young learners today are faced with a competitive, stress-fuelled and test-focused education system whereby examination scores are a measurement of what they have learnt and of their future success. What are some of the social and cultural factors that shape this culture? How does this culture of testing affect learners and their learning outcomes?’

To reflect on these questions and encourage discussion on related issues, the Network on Education Quality Monitoring in the Asia-Pacific (NEQMAP) Secretariat will host a webinar on “The Culture of Testing: Sociocultural Impacts on Learning in Asia and the Pacific”. The webinar will share the findings of UNESCO Bangkok’s regional study on the same topic, with reflections and commentaries from international expert(s) in this area.

If you would like to join the webinar, please indicate your interest by filling out your contact details in our registration form here: http://bit.ly/2C8NWHs.

You can also access the full report of the “Culture of Testing” study via the following link http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0026/002619/261955E.pdf.

The webinar will be held via Skype for Business. We will send you an email invitation with an instruction on how to join the webinar as well as how to install Skype for Business (if you do not have the app) one day prior to the webinar.

Please feel free to share this further within your network/colleagues.

Message from Curriculum Development and Quality Assurance Section of the Registry

teas2015Further to the circular dated May 14, 2018 from the Vice-President and Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Teaching and Learning) inviting nominations for awards under the Teaching Excellence Award Scheme, 2018 (document 232/518 ), please find below an update on the Scheme. 

Extension of deadline for nomination
The deadline for nomination for the various categories of teaching awards was originally set on October 5, 2018.  In order to allow more time for colleagues to prepare for their submissions, the deadline has been extended by two weeks to October 19, 2018.   Faculties please help identify colleagues/teams who have outstanding teaching and learning contributions and nominate them for these awards.  Colleagues who have already made their submission may take the extra time to review their documentation, and send the revised documents, if any, to Synthia Chau of the Curriculum Development and Quality Assurance Section of the Registry by the revised deadline.  

Eligibility criteria for Early Career Teaching Award
As indicated in paragraph 4(a) of the circular, nominees for the Early Career Teaching Award should (1) be a full-time teaching staff with a substantial responsibility for teaching for a continuous period of three years in this University, and (2) possess no more than four years of teaching experience in higher education institutions as at May 24, 2018.  In order not to exclude young colleagues who have made exceptional contributions to teaching and learning from the award, discretion will be exercised by the Selection Panel on the three-year HKU teaching requirement, provided that the nominee can demonstrate that he/she has made significant contributions to the teaching and learning of the University during his/her service years.  
Enquiries may be directed to Ms. Chau at 2859 2440 or email to schau@hku.hk.

Related Items 

Copyright © 2020 The University of Hong Kong. All Rights Reserved Contact Us