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Some say online teaching is nothing more than putting lecture videos and assignments online, but Ms Charlotte Chang, e-Teacher-in-Residence at TELI and founder of Ms Charlotte Academy, sees it differently. In a presentation entitled “A Teacher’s Journey into Online Education: Taking the Leap, Reflecting in the Process, and Reaping the Rewards”, Charlotte reflected that her journey started when she noticed the inefficiencies of traditional classroom teaching and realized that, with online education, she could enjoy quality interaction with students while “distilling” her lessons and curriculum and presenting only the most ideal parts.

Taking the Leap

Charlotte pointed out that the adaptation of curriculum teaching into online materials was not simply a process of repackaging, but rather a comprehensive upgrade of the whole teaching package. As such, adaptability and suitability were her key considerations when she was creating her online teaching content: for example, how could she structure, time, and sequence the lecture videos in order to aid student understanding the most?

After transitioning to online teaching, she gained a wider student reach, but that didn’t mean that she has to repeat her core teaching content again and again; instead, she let students study the videos and materials at their own pace, thereby saving a lot of her teaching time and allowing her to keep the teaching content and student learning experience fresh and updated all the time.

Charlotte""Ms Charlotte Chang shared her insights about online teaching.

Reflecting in the Process

Charlotte summarized her journey of creating online lectures and teaching materials in 6 steps:

  1. conceptualizing the structure and flow of the lessons,
  2. writing the video script,
  3. adapting lessons into video scripts,
  4. storyboarding,
  5. filming, and
  6. post-production of the filmed lessons.

She highlighted that her lesson contents were not the only parts of the course enhanced through the use of multimedia; rather, the whole production process allowed her to explore alternative ways for content delivery and presented chances for her to keep refining and improving her pedagogical approach and her curriculum.

Although she found it challenging to transition from interpersonal and interactive classroom delivery to on-camera presentation, she emphasized that the advantage of producing video lectures was that teachers could capture their best contents and show students only their best teaching moments.

Reaping the Rewards

After stepping out of the traditional classroom setting, Charlotte found that students who adapted to online learning were more proactive in asking questions and reaching out to her for feedback and advice. Furthermore, she shared some examples with the audience and reassured them that online teaching indeed offers teachers higher-quality and more intimate interactions with students and contributes to a more fruitful teaching and learning outcome for both teachers and students alike.

Ricky""Professor Ricky Kwok, Associate Vice-President (Teaching and Learning) of HKU, responded to questions from the audience.

Food for thought

Towards the end of the lecture, audience members raised some questions for further discussion:

  • Why do we need to and how do we educate or persuade teachers to pursue e-teaching?
  • How can we consider whether a particular course would be compatible with the online course format of structured videos?

The full lecture video is as below:

If you need more advice on structuring and planning your online course content, don’t hesitate to contact us!


group photo

Representatives from nine institutions gathered at the fifth annual Asian e-Table to share their plans of commoditization of e-learning. We are glad to hear that our e-learning partners are scaling up e-learning not just on the teaching level, but also on the institutional level, i.e. credit recognition and regulations.

This year, we welcomed our new e-learning partner, SURFnet, a collaborative ICT organization for education and research in the Netherlands, to join our existing Asian consortium (in alphabetical order):

  • Kyoto University
  • National Taiwan University
  • National University of Singapore
  • The Chinese University of Hong Kong
  • The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
  • The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
  • University of Macau
  • Yonsei University

Accrediting with Open Badges

christienSharing from Ms Christien Bok (Middle), Team Lead of Educational Service of SURFnet.

Lack of formal recognition for online learning undermines its values in students’ minds. One solution that many institutions have adopted is to award certificates for recognizing students’ skills and experience. In the Netherlands, SURFnet has developed an Open Badges system eduBadges, which is under pilot testing by 10+ Dutch higher education institutions. Unlike a traditional paper certificate, each Open Badge allows the badge community to link back to the information about who, why, and for what this badge was issued, displaying a more cooperative and complete picture of students’ achievements. The badges, being the digital indicator which includes the issuer and value of the badge, contain unalterable digital information circulating among the badge issuers (e.g. educational institutions), badge earners (e.g. students) and badge consumers (e.g. employers).

The badge awarding system itself serves as a means to enhance the flexibility in education and helps make students’ profile to be more visible on various online platforms. All in all, this “e-portfolio” helps students become more career-ready and, at the same time, makes them more aware of which skill sets they can improve, and motivates them to earn more “badges” in the future.

Harnessing the Power of Educational Data

Student data collection is under close watch, ever since the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) became effective. The educational research field is scrambling for ways to comply with the tougher regulatory environment. In Singapore, the National University of Singapore (NUS) has built an encrypted data storage system ALSET Educational Data Lake, securely housing the learning data of 120,000+ NUS students and alumni, including registrar data, job placement and salary data, module bidding, etc. From infrastructure (e.g. the data lake itself), staff training (e.g. how to access raw data) to data management policy (e.g. governed by the Learning Analytics and Data Advisory Board and the Learning and Analytics Committee on Ethics), NUS has produced very detailed codes of practice for ensuring data is ethically used and protected. Professor Ricky Kwok, Associate Vice-President (Teaching and Learning) of HKU, saw this data infrastructure as “the key towards institutional intelligence”, guiding universities to actualize the commoditization of e-learning.

slidesStructure of The ALSET Educational Data Lake of the National University of Singapore. [Image credit: National University of Singapore.)

Looking Forward

The one-and-a-half-day event was a valuable opportunity for institutions to exchange experiences and generate synergy in transforming learning and skills in the information age. Professor Toru Iiyoshi, Deputy Vice President for Education of Kyoto University, pointed out in his keynote speech that the “e” in “e-learning” stands not only for “electronic”, but also “effective”, “efficient”, “engaging”, “evidence-based”, “empowered”, “experimental”, etc. In order to enhance the scalability and sustainability of institutional e-learning adoption, collective intelligence and efforts from within and across institutions are necessary to realize the commoditization of e-learning.

Contact us if you are interested in digitizing your classroom teaching.

Interpreting Vernacular Architecture in Asia

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About this course
This course is about architecture. But it’s not about grand structures such as monuments or royal palaces. Rather, it is about the built environment that the ordinary people live in. Instead of the architectural techniques, we use stories to understand the processes through which people make their building decisions.

We use Asia as the backdrop for the discussion of these topics. Partly because of Asia’s rich heritage and diversity, but also due to the unique complexity that the people in the region face as they go through rapid economic, social, and cultural changes.

In this examination of the connection between vernacular buildings and peoples’ cultural identities, we will review real-world examples and talk to experts in the field. At the end of this course, you will gain a unique perspective about the everyday environment that you live in – one perhaps that you’ve never had before. You will begin to understand and appreciate the value of the ordinary built environment around you.

Whether you are an avid architect or you simply just care about the built environment you live in, this course is for you.

What you’ll learn
Throughout the course, we will examine a wide range of topics, such as:

  • what is vernacular architecture
  • how climate and the availability of building materials influence building decisions
  • vernacular architecture in rural and urban settings
  • cultural sustainability and the conservation of the vernacular built environment.


Breathing new life into learning

When was the last time you enjoyed learning so much that you couldn’t stop doing practice questions and reviewing your lecture notes? If it’s hard to recall, that’s because for most of us, moments like these are rare and sparse. However, let’s be honest – it’s probably not difficult for us to identify the last time we couldn’t stop ourselves from watching YouTube videos or going through our Instagram feed. Why is it that our experience in consuming learning content is so drastically different form our experience in consuming social content? On the flip side, if there were elements of social content in our learning, would it make our learning more enjoyable?
With the rise of online learning platforms and accessibility to connectivity and on-demand content, our society’s repertoire in online education content has also expanded rapidly. Though the contents are more accessible, without the appropriate tools and activities, sometimes it’s easier to disengage in online education due to the lack of student interaction. In fact, the typical low completion and engagement rates of MOOCs are a telling indicators of the lack of intentionality in online education.

So why does this gap exist? When we take a step back to look at traditional face-to-face learning, we also observe this trend, where there is an observable lack of student engagement in the common lecture-centered model. This goes to show that the root problem is not so much the delivery (online versus face-to-face), but rather the design and intentionality of incorporating right tools and learning activities on the educators’ part.

In a learning context, there are two dimensions of interaction – one is social interaction with the instructor. This facilitates the learning process on the communication level. Studies have shown that having a socially engaging context to learn enhances the learners’ experience and their development in transferrable skills such as critical thinking and problem solving. Think about it – we probably learn much more from a debate with our friends about whether Apple or Android is better than from looking up a bunch of specs online. Why? Because social interaction enhances our ability to respond to stimuli, thus facilitating learning. In an online learning context, incorporating components of social interactions can also enhance students’ learning, such as discussion forums, peer assessment and feedback processes.

Another dimension of interaction is the interaction with the content and application of the knowledge being taught. “Learning by doing” is crucial in the learning process. Imagine a child learning the concept of addition theoretically without being given a scenario to count. The theories and concepts will get lost in a bunch of numbers rather than being retained. Thus, opportunities to engage and apply the content knowledge is crucial in learners retention and understanding of the subject, especially in fields such as mathematics and sciences where conceptual theories must be made applicable in real-life contexts.

In face-to-face learning environments and online contexts alike, it is critical to incorporate components of both levels of interaction. For online learning, when technological tools are applied effectively, even the most difficult mathematics and science fields can be conquered by learners. The new TELI course “Engineering Calculus and Differential Equations” uses the interactive tool Geogebra to help learners practice mapping their solutions to complex equations and receive feedback on the spot to learn dynamically.

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