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Guest blogger series: Dr. Yat Ming CHAN
Dr. Yat Ming CHAN is a Lecturer at the Department of Mathematics, The University of Hong Kong. Chan specializes in differential geometry and is the developer of HKU GeoGebra resources. Check out this blog post to learn more about his teaching of mathematics.

The Department of Mathematics has been offering a range of courses to provide mathematics education to HKU students across faculties. We have designed courses specifically for students majoring in statistics, risk management, quantitative finance, actuarial science, engineering, business and economics. Almost all these courses involve the training of calculus at various levels. By means of introducing new dynamic and interactive instructional materials, it will be possible to improve students’ motivation and provide them with extra incentives in learning the underlying abstract mathematical concepts. With the support of HKU Teaching Development Grant, we have introduced GeoGebra resources on HKU Open edX for introductory-level mathematics courses.

This platform provides a library of GeoGebra applets to support teaching and learning for introductory-level mathematics courses. GeoGebra is a free and open-source dynamic mathematics software that can construct elements with points, vectors, polynomials and functions. The use of GeoGebra allows visualizations of mathematical ideas and creation of interactive instructional materials. The applets made in the platform will be designed to (i) supplement the concepts developed in class and (ii) prompt students to explore mathematics according to the guidelines.

For each learning object, students can learn or review one to two concepts and will be given opportunities to perform investigatory tasks. Students can click on checkboxes and follow the guidelines to achieve a specific goal, drag the points and move the sliders to observe the change, and input their own functions to examine different cases. All these activities, as well as follow-up questions, can foster student-centered learning and mathematical explorations.

Due to the versatility of GeoGebra, we expect that the materials in this platform will improve teachers’ capabilities to convey abstract and difficult mathematical concepts to students. Teachers and tutors can take advantage of this new resource to create complementary materials for their lectures and tutorials. We also expect that the use of GeoGebra applets in class will improve teacher-student interactions.

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Students can drag the point and use the slider to adjust the increment to observe how the secant lines approach to the tangent line. They can also input different functions for further investigation.

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Students can press the “Show more” button to check the details. They can then click to see and compare the area in the picture.

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Students can click the checkbox and move the line to verify the theorem.

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Using the slider students can change the value of k to obtain a continuous function.

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Our online calculators allow users to get straight to the answers with easy inputs. Graphs will also be provided for reference. Students can take advantage of these calculators for getting immediate answers and for verification of their solutions.

The entire platform can be used in virtually all courses that involve the teaching of calculus such as MATH1009 Basic Mathematics for Business and Economics, MATH1011 University Mathematics I, MATH1013 University Mathematics II, MATH1821 Mathematical Methods for Actuarial Science I and MATH1851 Calculus and Ordinary Differential Equations.

References

  1. Learning Begins at the End of Your Comfort Zone
  2. DIY Video Production for Flipped Classroom

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We build. We innovate. We share. It is our team’s mission to support teachers in building useful learning resources and sharing knowledge with technology. One recent project is the enhancement of the Resources for Interpreting website (傳譯資源網), and the development of a mobile app “Newssary” instigated by Dr Eva Ng from the Translation Programme of the School of Chinese, Faculty of Arts

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The Interpreting Website
Funded by the Knowledge Exchange (KE) Office of HKU, this website provides free learning and training resources for anyone interested in interpreting. One star feature of the website is a glossary of bilingual Chinese-English terms on current affairs. It is a constantly udpated database of thousands of entries collected by students from the news over many years. This database is not only useful for professional interpreters, but also anyone interested in learning buzzwords in the news.

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Website Enhancement
For all glossaries and databases, a user-friendly searching function is indispensable. The database now supports searching by Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese. An intelligent search function has also been added recently. For example, if you input “appr h” in the search bar, it will prompt you with “Appreciate Hong Kong”. In other words, even if the input information does not correspond exactly with the entries in the database, you will still be prompted with possible matching items and related terms.

Our team further enriched the website by producing a video on what is interpreting. We also set up a server and advised Dr Ng’s team on website architecture and theme development.


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Achievement
The website received an overwhelmingly positive response from its users, ranging from academics, PhD candidates and members of the general public:

  • “[The website] has everything that an interpreter, or anyone who teaches interpreting, or anyone who wants to use it for client education would want.” – Professor Holly Mikkelson, Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, USA
  • “It’s a wonderful contribution for today’s students and practitioners of interpreting and translation.” – Professor Claudia Angelelli, Heriot-Watt University, UK

In recognition for her contribution to the interpreting community, Dr Ng was awarded the Faculty Knowledge Exchange (KE) Awards in 2016.

The Mobile App
Furthering our effort in revolutionizing the website, we have successfully transformed the glossary into an app, “Newssary”, to increase the accessibility of this useful learning resource. One key feature of the app is game-based learning – it is not just a dictionary, but made interactive for users to learn new vocabulary items through games.

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The app is now available on Apple Store and Google Play for FREE!

It is TELI’s mission to collaborate with teachers to create innovative e-learning resources. Interested? Contact us.

Further Reading

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Two HKU collaborative projects are being recognized at the prestigious QS Stars-Wharton Reimagine Education Awards. The inter-institutional team, “Interprofessional Team-based Learning (IPTBL) for Health Professional Students”, led by Dr. Lap Ki Chan (Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine) is the Bronze Winner for Discipline Award (Life Sciences). The international team, “Problem-based learning and Educational Technologies in Clinical Education – An Interactional Ethnography”, led by Dr. Susan Bridges (Faculty of Education/ Centre for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning) won the Bronze Regional Award (Asia).

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From Left to Right:
Dr Fraide A. Ganotice, Jr., Mr. Nunzio Quacquarelli (CEO and founder of Quacquarelli Symonds Ltd.), Dr. Susan Bridges, Prof. Judith Green

Shortlisted candidates from around the world gathered in Philadelphia on Dec 5-6, 2016 to showcase their projects in this “Oscars” gathering for innovative higher education pedagogies. From over 500 projects, the panel of judges selected all submissions from HKU to be among the 120 that are shortlisted for the final contest.

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Prof. Ricky Kwok and Dr Fraide A. Ganotice presenting at the Reimagine Education Awards

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Dr. Susan Bridges presenting at the Reimagine Education Awards

Both projects have the vision in realizing how technology should be infused in teaching across multiple scales, including: student numbers, time (e.g., learning cycles) and disciplines. The improvements in outcomes are supported by quantitative and qualitative research data. TELI is proud to have been particularly involved in the IPTBL project on various fronts, including the development of the Learning Activity Management System (LAMS) electronic platform, the implementation and connectivity that are all crucial in the development of the IPTBL.

Further reading:

  1. (大公報 Tai Kung Pao) 港大兩個項目獲國際創意教育獎項
  2. (文匯報 Wen Wei Po) 港大奪全球教學創新兩銅

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Guest blogger series: Chaak Ming LAU
Mr. Chaak Ming Lau is a Part-time Lecturer at the School of Chinese, The University of Hong Kong. Lau specializes in computational linguistics and is the developer of the CantoSounds platform.

Gamification is a powerful tool to motivate students to learn. One recent successful example is the CantoSounds project 1 initiated by a team of Cantonese teachers from the School of Chinese. It is a versatile gamification platform for exchange students who often lament that Cantonese is a difficult language to learn. The CantoSounds team reached out a helping hand by providing self-learning online resources and gamifying the learning experience. The CantoSounds platform has been used in CHIN9511 Cantonese as a Foreign Language I and is now open for public access.

Creating a Versatile Gamification Platform for Self-learning

Canto1The CantoSounds platform now has over hundreds of videos and sound samples, as well as interactive learning materials, quizzes, and games, freely accessible online anytime. These materials are designed for self-practising pronunciation and romanisation outside class time, allowing teachers and students to focus on communicative language learning activities in class.

The system was rolled out in late January 2016. Through the system, students can watch videos demonstrating the explanatory of initials, finals and tones, click on images to listen to individual words, and do a simple quiz to test their understanding. All these actions give students game points. As they gain more points through progressive learning, they will be promoted to higher levels (from Newbie to Expert!). Learning is further gamified through providing different questions in every quiz quest, with instant feedback.

Creating an online gamification platform is not as difficult as one may think. The platform was built on WordPress with leveraging third-party plugins. For instance, CantoSounds used MyCred for the point system and WP-Pro Quiz for quizzes. A simple mini-game was embedded from the Quizlet flashcard platform. Less tech-savvy teachers can also update online content using WordPress’ ready-made editor backend.

Providing Extra Incentives via Gamifying the Learning Process

The team tested the platform with students in the course. In order to give extra incentives to students, 1% of the participation score of the course was allocated to the game platform. One mark will be assigned to students if they reach the highest rank (Expert, 1000 points) on the platform. Usually a mere 1% score cannot really motivate students, but the combination of course incentive plus gaming elements did a wonderful job in motivating students to hit the highest rank – Out of the 66 students who signed up, an amazing number of students (20) reached the Expert rank. This shows that students were attracted to use the system. With gamification, we can provide students with an engaging and “sticky” learning experience. This, we believe, is the power of gamification.

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Gamification is a powerful tool to reshape students’ learning experience and maximize learning outcome. It is not only useful in facilitating language teaching, but can also be used in other courses. If you are looking for ways to motivate students to learn, gamification may be one way to try out.

References

  • Barata, G., Gama, S., Jorge, J., & Gonçalves, D. (2013, October). Improving participation and learning with gamification. In Proceedings of the First International Conference on gameful design, research, and applications (pp. 10-17). ACM.
  • Conquering the 4Cs: Creating Engaging In-class Activities
    https://tl.hku.hk/2016/03/conquering-the-4cs-creating-engaging-in-class-activities/
  • DomíNguez, A., Saenz-De-Navarrete, J., De-Marcos, L., FernáNdez-Sanz, L., PagéS, C., & MartíNez-HerráIz, J. J. (2013). Gamifying learning experiences: Practical implications and outcomes. Computers & Education, 63, 380-392.
  • Kapp, K. M. (2012). The gamification of learning and instruction: game-based methods and strategies for training and education. John Wiley & Sons.
  • MOOC: Gamification https://www.coursera.org/learn/gamification
1 The CantoSounds project is funded by the HKU Teaching Development Grant.

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