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On 28 October, HKU welcomed Professor Armando Fox (the Director of MOOCLab, EECS, UC Berkeley), Professor T.C. Pong (Senior Advisor to Executive Vice-President and Provost, HKUST), and Professor Bob Fox (Deputy Director, Learning and Teaching Unit, School of Education, UNSW) to share their insights on a range of topical MOOC- and SPOC-related issues from their own contexts. From HKU, Professor Nancy Law (Deputy Director of the Centre for Information Technology in Education, HKU) and Professor David Lung (Lady Edith Kotewall Professor in the Built Environment, HKU) shared their in-house perspectives and experiences. The key themes discussed included the potential benefits of auto-grading; the interplay between SPOC (Small Private Online Courses) and MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) development; leveraging big data to enhance learning; enabling a positive washback from online to on-campus learning; and forecasting possible future directions of the ‘MOOC movement’.


Professor Armando Fox kick-started the discussions by recounting how he and his team redesigned a software engineering course in light of workplace demands identified by software companies, such as dealing with legacy code and working with non-technical customers. Innovations to the course included the integration of auto-grading strategies which encouraged learners to iteratively improve their code based on computer-generated feedback. The MOOC was also run as a SPOC for on-campus students, enabling a four-fold increase in student intake, providing more learner practice, redirecting teaching assistants’ attention from grading to higher-value forms of feedback, and ultimately increasing course ratings.

This potential of MOOC development to positively impact on on-campus learning was a theme which emerged at several points, notably in Professor T.C. Pong’s presentation on “BOOCs: Blending Online and On-Campus Courses”. He drew on the example of his MOOC “Introduction to Computing with Java”, which was initially offered to on-campus students in a ‘flipped classroom’ mode, to explain the positive correlation between students’ performance and the amount of time they spend viewing the lecture videos. For the flipped classroom, it was seen that smaller class sizes performed better for in-class activities but no difference in performance was seen for online activities. This interesting finding hints at the potential of MOOC resources to enhance out-of-class learning materials for on-campus learners in order to create high-value interactions in in-class settings.


In addition to the idea of MOOCs serving as a catalyst for developing blended or ‘flipped’ courses, Professor Pong spoke about tools being developed by HKUST to enable learning analytics. This resonated with Professor Nancy Law’s presentation, which explored the challenges associated with leveraging the unprecedented scale of online data to improve learning and teaching. She proposed activating a pedagogical design cycle to position education as a design science which generates theory from practice. The importance of appropriate assessment models, the integration of interdisciplinary expertise, and the need for policy and governance on data privacy and data sharing were also discussed. Preliminary explorations on analysing large amounts of data have been undertaken in HKU’s Common Core Curriculum, generally characterized by large class size and diverse student background. Lessons learnt from this context aim to inform discussions on how to scale up analyses against the backdrop of the challenges she mentioned earlier.

Participants had the opportunity to hear Professor David Lung’s experience of developing the MOOC, “The Search for Vernacular Architecture of Asia”. He highlighted the need to begin planning and preparation with a substantial lead time in order to assemble and work across teams to adapt subject matter for a MOOC audience, develop media content, deal with copyright issues, and design a pedagogically-sound learning experience. The potential benefits of this process on existing university courses were reiterated by Professor Lung. In the context of a MOOC on Architecture, he noted that he had developed a data bank of media artefacts for future use and further developed professional and student networks, amongst other benefits.

The event ended with an engaging round-table discussion which expanded on the core issues by drawing on expertise of participants from a range of contexts. Professor Bob Fox shared the institutional workflows associated with MOOC development at UNSW and summarised several of the recurring themes when he emphasised the importance of using MOOCs to incubate innovation and generate data analytics to support the student learning experience.

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


Speakers: Professor Ricky Kwok, the Chairman of the HKU MOOC Working Group
Date : 30 October 2014 (Thursday)
Time : 12:45pm – 2:00pm
Venue : Room 321, Run Run Shaw Building

Organized by Centre for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning (CETL)


Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) is touted as being able to bring seismic change to higher education. While such change still remains to be seen, MOOCs have already polarized the higher education community. Indeed, some people wholeheartedly embrace MOOCs as the ultimate form of e-learning or even the real killer-app of the Internet but many others dispose of the notion and treat MOOCs as another bubble waiting to burst. Big questions such as “What values do MOOCs bring back to campus?”, “What is the business plan to make this sustainable?”, etc. keep baffling all major stakeholders of universities.

HKU, like many other world-class universities, has joined edX to deliver MOOCs. In this talk, the speaker, currently overseeing the development of HKU MOOCs, will share his views on the MOOC phenomenon, issues (pedagogical, coordination, etc.) involved, and opportunities available.

About the Speakers:

Ricky Kwok is Professor and Deputy Head of the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at HKU. His research and teaching interests are mainly about large scale distributed computing systems. Currently Ricky is serving as the Chairman of the HKU MOOC Working Group, which advises the Vice-President and Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Teaching and Learning) on pertinent issues about MOOCs, such as strategic directions, courses development, and technical matters.

For information on registration, please contact:
Ms Ivy Lai , CETL
Phone: 3917 8996; Email: laichun2@hku.hk.

TVB Financial Magazine special on “Online University”

Broadcasted on 14 Sep 2014

TVB News report on MOOCs

Broadcasted on 14 Sep 2014

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Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 1.54.58 pmAn article on HKUx01 Epidemics was posted on HealthMap’s Disease Daily today. Please check it out.


… In the HKUx “Epidemics” MOOC, Peiris is part of an inter-disciplinary team of eleven experts. He reveals, “Our experiences of fighting previous epidemics such as the 2003 SARS outbreak in Hong Kong showed that we needed a comprehensive skillset to tackle the outbreak. That’s why we’re bringing together laboratory microbiologists, infectious disease epidemiologists, public health physicians and media journalists, both locally and internationally, to collaborate in this course.” …

Join us in the HKUx MOOC on Epidemics to find out more

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