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We believed most of us agreed that Hong Kong is undergoing a difficult period. Due to the pandemic outbreak in these few weeks, face-to-face classes have been suspended, and all teaching and learning activities have to be converted into an online format. As many learning activities have already been designed for face-to-face teaching and learning before the outbreak, it is a challenge for teachers to redesign them within a short period of time as well as to facilitate engaging and productive synchronous/asynchronous online sessions. Moreover, students also struggle to fully immerse themselves in the online learning environment due to the limitations of the offline environment in Hong Kong.

To help teachers to overcome the challenges, TELI has developed a full list of supporting resources:

  • E-learning Quick Start Guide: This guide serves as a portal of online resources provided to HKU staff and students (including Powerpoint, Zoom, Panopto and Moodle). It briefly describes how online learning can be adopted in different teaching context and styles. The guide includes technical demonstrations of the tools as well as tips and strategies for creating an engaging online learning session for students. Additional resources such as teacher showcases, good practices on blended/online learning and video production are also provided in this guide. A student version of this quick start guide is also available for students (link).
  • Online Learning FAQ Video Channel: Teachers can quickly learn the basics of PowerPoint, Panopto, Zoom and other related tools through step-by-step demonstrations and explanations.
  • Real-time Online E-learning Consultation Channel: Teachers can contact the E-learning Technologists at TELI for a one-to-one consultation session on questions related to online T&L.
    • Leon Lei (9162 3384) and Tyrone Kwok (5964 8396) who can both be reached via WhatsApp text messages.
  • Faculty-/Department-level Face-to-face Training: Hands-on training and deep-dive tool demonstrations on online learning tools can be provided to teachers on demand. The training will also include showcase sharing by teachers. Please contact Dr Leon Lei (culei@hku.hk) for training arrangements.

Your health and safety are always our top priority. Please stay vigilant and continue to make personal health your top priority. 

Written by Dr Leon Lei, Ms Crystal Luo, Ms Sharon Keung and Dr Tyrone Kwok




About this course

“If history is our guide, we can assume that the battle between the intellect and will of the human species and the extraordinary adaptability of microbes will be never-ending.” (1)

Despite all the remarkable technological breakthroughs that we have made over the past few decades, the threat from infectious diseases remain prevalent, with increased global mobility resulting in its significantly accelerated spread. This is all the more evident with the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, which is showing no signs of slowing down.

In the age of information overload, it is crucial to have access to verified facts and figures regarding appropriate public health protocols and precautionary measure – it acts as means of reducing anxiety and fears regarding infectious diseases, and above all a crucial first line of defense against misinformation.

In this course, we will look at the fundamental scientific principles underlying epidemics and the public health actions behind their prevention and control in the 21st century, with follow-up discussions and supplementary content on how these concepts may be helpful to us in better understanding the COVID-19 outbreak.

This is the second (spread of infectious diseases) of the four courses, and will cover the following topics:

  • Basic Concepts in Infectious Disease Epidemiology
  • Epidemiologic Triangle: The Pathogen, The Host and The Environment
  • Evidence Synthesis
  • Infectious Disease Modelling

Week 1
Infectious Disease Epidemiology – Tracking Infectious Diseases + Discourse with Epidemiologists on COVID-19 Outbreak

The incubation period is frequently mentioned in the context of the 14-day quarantine protocol for the recent COVID-19 outbreak, but have you ever wondered what the incubation period really means, and how it is relevant to stopping the spread of diseases? In the first week of this course, you will be introduced to basic concepts in infectious disease epidemiology, such as the epidemic curve, incubation period and its uses, transmissibility of communicable diseases, timescale of disease transmission, severity of infectious disease, and difficulties associated with severity estimation. After class discussions held with epidemiologists and various experts of the field will also address the recent outbreak.

Week 2
Epidemiological Triangle ­- Understanding Disease Transmission and Examining the Spread of COVID-19 (Supplementary Reading)

Over the course of less than a month, the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) had spread from Wuhan China to far reaches of the world including Europe and North America; what are some human factors associated with the spread of a virus, and how are other extraneous factors implicated in outbreaks such as this? The three main pillars that make up the epidemiologic triangle (pathogen, host, and environment) will be explained as means to understanding the spread of disease. In addition, the evolution of pathogens will be examined through case studies on the Myxoma virus, the human immunodeficiency virus, and antimicrobial resistance. Finally, host factors that affect disease transmission and severity such as age and sexual mixing will be addressed. A supplementary module will include discourse on influenza immunity and transmission in time, age and space, while supplementary reading on “Real-time nowcast and forecast on the extent of the COVID-19 outbreak, domestic and international spread” will further explore concepts discussed in class.

Week 3
Infectious Disease Modeling – Mathematical Modeling of Infectious Diseases and Forecasting of the COVID-19 Outbreak (Supplementary Reading)

Numerous recent studies have forecasted the geographical spread and peak of outbreak of COVID-19, but many may be curious to know how these estimations made, and what evidence there is to lend support to these hypotheses. In the final week, you will be introduced to the mathematical modeling of infectious disease, specifically the susceptible-infectious-recovered (SIR) model, and its role as a tool for evidence synthesis. You will also identify the various elements of uncertainty that may occur at all stages of the modeling process. The supplementary module of the week will address the concept of precision public health, while supplementary reading on “Nowcasting and forecasting the potential domestic and international spread of the 2019-nCoV outbreak originating in Wuhan, China: a modelling study” will examine the dynamics of infectious diseases through mathematical modelling.


Join Epidemics II now.

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn for more updates!

(1) Fauci AS, Touchette NA, Folkers GK. Emerging Infectious Diseases: a 10-Year Perspective from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Emerg Infect Dis 2005 Apr; 11(4):519-25.

Related Items 

More updates from Dr. Pittman about his research, fieldwork and MOOC filming trip to Argentina. Less than 1 month until the start of the 3rd edition of Dinosaur Ecosystems. Join more than 7500 students who have already enrolled. Sign up at https://www.edx.org/course/dinosaur-ecosystems, and see you on Feb 7, 2020


Course trailer also available on Uvision



What is this course about?

Week 1 Teaser

Week 1 Teaser
Week 2 Teaser

Week 2 Teaser
Week 3 Teaser

Week 3 Teaser
Week 4 Teaser

Week 4 Teaser
Week 5 Teaser

Week 5 Teaser
Week 6 Teaser

Week 6 Teaser

What was it like being a dinosaur? Where did they live? Who did they live with? Were things anything like they are today? How do we even know all this?

Find out the answers to these questions and more in our upcoming Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Dinosaur Ecosystems! Starting from February 8th 2017, Dr. Michael Pittman of the University of Hong Kong’s Department of Earth Sciences, together with Professor Xu Xing of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (Chinese Academy of Sciences), will lead you on an expedition to the Gobi desert to unveil a famous ancient ecosystem!

In this course, we will take you to Erlian, Inner Mongolia, and leading museums and institutions to explore:

  • dinosaur biology
  • how palaeontologists reconstruct ancient ecosystems using fossil and modern evidence
  • the traits and significance of a Late Cretaceous dinosaur ecosystem.

Our milestones
Dinosaur Ecosystems, the first MOOC offered by our Faculty of Science, was selected to be one of the 10 finalists for 2018 edX Prize for Exceptional Contributions in Online Teaching and Learning. It is also the first MOOC on dinosaur in Asia. It is the first time that we send crew members to the desert and world-renowned museums to film. Our course was also featured on the edX homepage, edx newsletter and various media reports and the HKU Convocation Newsletter Summer 2016 (Pg 15, MOOC in the spotlight: Introduction to Dinosaur Ecosystems).

edX global forum
edX prize finalistDr Michael Pittman attended the Global edX forum 2018.

Our course featured on the edX homepage!

List of media reports:

  1. Interview by Noreen Mir on RTHK Radio 3: Dr Michael Pittman – Dinosaur Ecosystems
  2. 港大首辦免費「恐龍證書課程」 網上教學無限年齡 [Translation: HKU’s free online course on dinosaurs open to all] (Sing Tao Daily 星島日報, February 6th, 2017)
  3. 免費讀港大網上課程:恐龍生態系統 [Translation: HKU’s free online course: Dinosaur Ecosystems] (Mingpao OL 明報OL, February 7th, 2017)
  4. Switch onto movie action with HKU online course (The Standard, February 7th, 2017)
  5. Tracking the last days of the DINOSAUR (China Daily Hong Kong, February 8th, 2017)

A Roaring Start
With the collaborative efforts from multiple parties, our course had a roaring start. The enrollment number jumped from 2,000 to 3,000 two days before launch, and even doubled on the next day. By the end of the course (as at March 27th), we had 8,996 learners from over 100 countries!


Learners’ Comments
Check out what our learners said about our course:

Sharing Knowledge, Sharing Joy
To celebrate the joyful success of our course, Dr. Pittman hosted a party on February 8th, 2017 with almost 50 HKU colleagues and members of the general public at Stephen Hui Geological Museum. More details here.

A fun drawing competition titled “The Year of the Dinosaur” was also organized to engage dinosaur lovers in the community. The following is a selection of fun dinosaur-themed Chinese New Year scenes designed by creative young minds:




Dinosaur Ecosystems @ Hong Kong Science Museum
To promote the course, we had set up, for the first time, a booth in the T. rex exhibition in Hong Kong Science Museum.

“T-Rex Revealed – The Augmented + Virtual Reality Experience” was a recent exhibition where you could interact with dinosaurs with Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technologies. Our course instructor, Dr. Michael Pittman, was the advisor of the exhibition.

Dr. Pittman also brought along souvenirs of our course to Science Alive 2017 on March 4th and 5th at the Science Museum. He gave a lecture on “Dinosaur Appearance: New Discoveries” and set up an exhibition counter introducing his research and our MOOC to the general public.

Left: One of our learners, Jason, travelled all the way from Macau (a 2 hour roundtrip) to meet Dr. Pittman!
Right: It was a delight to know that our young learners love our course poster!

For more photos, check out our Facebook photo album!


New Discoveries: Reconstructing Dinosaurs with Lasers
These few months had been a busy time for Dr. Pittman, who had to simultaneously teach a huge class online and work on his research. In February 2017, he “and his collaborators reconstructed the first highly detailed body outline of a feathered dinosaur based on high-definition images of its preserved soft tissues”. This important science discovery was published in Nature Communications and featured in various media outlets such as National Geographic and BBC News.

Dr. Pittman shared his discoveries in a press conference on March 1st, 2017.

His discoveries were featured in the following websites:

  1. Dinosaur hunting in Inner Mongolia: Gobi Desert a treasure trove for University of Hong Kong-led expedition (Post Magazine, September 12th, 2015)
  2. 港大古生物學家利用新技術準確重塑恐龍身體輪廓 帶羽毛恐龍真貌首次展現 [Translation: Major breakthrough in knowledge of dinosaur appearance: HKU palaeontologist reconstructs feathered dinosaurs in the flesh with new technology] (HKU Press Release, February 27th, 2017)
  3. Lasers flesh out dino-bird profile (Phys.org, February 28th, 2017)
  4. Laser light uncovers hidden secrets of feathered dinosaur fossils (PBS Newshour, February 28th, 2017)
  5. Ce dinosaure à plumes qui avait déjà tout d’un oiseau [Translation: This feathered dinosaur that already had everything of a bird] (Le Parisien, February 28th, 2017)
  6. 港大古生物學家以激光新技術 重現1.6億年前近鳥龍 [Translation: HKU palaeontologist reconstructs 1.6 hundred-million-year-old Anchiornis with new laser technology] (Apple Daily, March 1st, 2017)
  7. 港大首用激光技術 重塑侏羅紀近鳥龍真身(有片) [Translation: HKU reconstrcuts Jurassic-era Anchiornis with laser technology] (Hong Kong 01, March 1st, 2017)
  8. 港大古生物學家利用新技術重塑帶羽恐龍真身 [Translation: HKU palaeontologist reconstructs feathered dinosaurs with new technology] (Hong Kong Economic Times, March 1st, 2017)
  9. 港大教授以激光拆解化石 細膩還原近鳥龍 [Translation: HKU palaeontologist deciphers fossils and reconstructs Anchiornis with lasers] (on.cc, March 1st, 2017)
  10. 港大新技術首次根據恐龍軟組織影像重塑羽毛恐龍的身體輪廓 [Translation: HKU reconstructs feathered dinosaurs based on images of dinosaur soft tissues using new technology] (Metro Radio, March 1st, 2017)
  11. 港大用新技術 成功勾劃侏羅紀動物近鳥龍外貌 [Translation: HKU successuflly reconstructs Jurassic-era Anchiornis with new technology] (Singtao Daily, March 1st, 2017)
  12. 近鸟龙真面目还原 [Translation: Revealing what an Anchiornis really looked like] (Sinchew News, March 1st, 2017)
  13. Lasers reveal the secrets of a feathered dinosaur fossil (Popular Science, March 1st, 2017)
  14. Laser technique sheds light on pivotal Chinese feathered dinosaur (Reuters, March 1st, 2017)
  15. Lasers flesh out dino-bird profile (Paris AFP; Yahoo! News, March 1st, 2017)
  16. This Laser Reconstruction Of A Four-Winged Dinosaur Is Incredible (Gizmodo, March 1st, 2017)
  17. This Might Be The Most Accurate Dinosaur You’ve Ever Seen (IFL Science!, March 1st, 2017)
  18. Incredible Anchiornis pictures reveal what dinosaur that lived 160 million years ago really looked like (The Sun, March 1st, 2017)
  19. Scientists reconstruct a Jurassic-era dinosaur and discover how it moved (Mashable Asia, March 2nd, 2017)


Dinosaurs on TV!
Dr. Pittman and his 3D dinosaur model even made it to TVB’s Big Boys Club (兄弟幫) in April! In the two episodes titled “Unveiling the Secrets of Dinosaurs” (Part 1, Part 2), he shared fun facts about dinosaurs, his archeological experiences and how he uses lasers to reconstruct dinosaurs from fossils. In the latest episode titled “Precious Dinosaur Fossils”, he brought along dinosaur eggs and teeth fossils and explained how fossils were formed.


Interested to learn more?
Check out this interview of Dr. Pittman where he explained the importance of studying dinosaurs and producing this course.
Don’t forget to take a glimpse into the artistic process of crafting the MOOC.

This course is just the beginning of our exploration of dinosaurs. Stay in touch with us through our Facebook and Twitter!



Date : 22 January 2020 (Wednesday)
Time : 12:45pm – 2:00pm
Venue : CPD-1.24, Centennial Campus, The University of Hong Kong
Speaker : Dr Leon Lei, Ms Crystal Luo

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the fastest-growing technology in various fields. The adoption of AI spans the global learning landscape and has been used in experiential learning, tutoring, language learning, and knowledge testing. In higher education, some educators have identified the affordances of AI and utilized this technology in making teaching and learning more effective. In particular, there is a high demand for teachers to provide meaningful and prompt feedback to students within and beyond the classroom. However, designing such an experience can be challenging as this requires a lot of teachers’ time and attention to their students. Systems powered by AI can provide 24/7 support to teachers and multiple learners at the same time, with personalized support and guide them in an engaging way in the virtual environment. Some may worry that creating an AI tool from scratch requires complex computer programming skills but there are more and more AI-facilitated tools for teaching and learning.

In this seminar, we would like to discuss the potential and affordances of AI in education with some examples of AI tools for classroom engagement and assessment. Through the workshop, participants can reflect on better practices and design considerations in AI-facilitated teaching and learning.

Upon completion of this seminar, the participants will be able to:

  • Identify the opportunities and challenges of adopting AI tools in the classroom
  • Use the concept of AI learning technologies and learning analytics to facilitate classroom learning and assessment.

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