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Have you ever questioned where in the world do we live, and what lies beyond the visible world? These have been intriguing questions for humans since 5000 years ago, for which our ancestors actively sought answers and went on expeditions into deep space, just to answer the existential question: where’s our place in the Universe?

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On June 2, 2018, Professor Sun Kwok held a public lecture in the Hong Kong Space Museum’s Lecture Theatre, attracting a crowd of over a hundred. Students, professionals, families and astronomy enthusiasts flocked to listen to Professor Kwok speak about how man made sense of our surrounding environment, and the development of a scientific mind throughout this process.

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Professor Kwok illustrated how our ancestors’ practical needs of planning for agriculture prompted them to closely observe the environment, turning their attention to the skies to examine how stars moved. From observations, humans began to imagine, hypothesize and correlate phenomena, eventually coming up with theories to explain how the celestial sky works. Slight discrepancies of actual observations with proposed theories sent them thinking further, resulting in more accurate explanations of the nature being born, and in the long course of history, the development of the scientific way of thinking and rational mind. Man deconstructed and constructed knowledge and built up a legacy of what we have today – a chest full of rich astronomical understanding to our disposal. Understanding how we have come this far is equally important as knowing what our current comprehension of the Universe is.

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Towards the end of the lecture, Professor Kwok engaged in a lively exchange of questions and answers with the audience, where visitors raised curious questions about specific details of the talk. Furthermore, visitors had an enjoyable time trying out the Armillary sphere app, co-developed by HKU TELI and Professor Kwok. With the aid of animated instructional videos and the guidance of TELI’s staff, visitors learnt how to operate this digitized ancient instrument. The app is powerful enough to predict the Sun’s motion on any given altitude, and some visitors even tried to work out the sunrise and sunset times on their birthdays!

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Many also took the opportunity to learn about the upcoming free MOOC course Our Place in the Universe, launching on June 12, 2018 on EdX. If you missed the public lecture, here is your chance to embark on a journey with us through the stars and into history!

For more details of the public lecture, please refer to this post by the Hong Kong Space Museum. If you are interested in trying the Armillary Sphere app, you can also check out and download from this post: https://tl.hku.hk/2018/06/finding-our-place-in-the-universe-a-mooc/

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The Faculty of Dentistry recently launched a MOOC which targets pre-professionals and dentists in the world – particularly those in China where formal programmes in this area are rare. The question for the course team is: how to reach this group of audience? The answer: one powerful friend, and your smartphone.

In order to reach out to the dental community and create bigger impact for the MOOC, the course team established a partnership with an online dental training platform, Myake. Founded by a few experienced dentists, the platform’s vision is to provide free quality education and knowledge sharing. With more than 10,000 registered users, it has established an active and mature learning community among practising dentists.

The featuring promotional event was for the MOOC instructor, Dr. Nikos Mattheos, to give a live webinar through the platform. Dr. Mattheos addressed a key topic under implant dentistry, and took the chance to invite learners to join our MOOC.

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What came as a surprise to the course team, was that the tool being used to deliver the webinar, was a simple chatting app, which is so popular that almost everyone in Mainland China is using. Without a webcam, a laptop, or any other sophisticated gadgets, the only device needed for delivering and participating in the webinar, was a smartphone. The instructor simply presented screenshots of lecture slides, and supplemented them with voice messages. Throughout the 90-minute webinar, the number of live learners kept growing, eventually reached over 8000.

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How do we make high education more accessible? Clearly one efficient way is to adopt tools that is available and familiar to our target audience. Making use of this day-to-day communication app, the implant dentistry course team was able to bring the knowledge straight to the front-line practising dentists.

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