Teaching and Learning at The University of Hong Kong HKU

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TELI recently worked with The Libraries to turn Level 3 of the Main Library a quality space for conducting the Tort Law flipped class. Student feedback was largely positive, commending Level 3 as an ideal place for interactive learning. Learn more about the success story here (extracted from FOCUS, The University of Hong Kong Libraries, Feb 2017).


TELI looks forward to envisioning the use of space for teaching and learning with the Libraries and other members of the University. Please get in touch via enquiry@teli.hku.hk if you want to start a conversation.

Creating online videos is easier than you think, even if you are no tech guru. With a graphing tablet, a microphone and a screen capture software, you can create DIY videos efficiently. In the Spring 2016 semester, Dr. Rachel K.W. Lui, Dr. K.F. Lam, Dr. William M.Y. Cheung and Dr. N.K. Tsing of the Faculty of Science tried this DIY approach of creating videos for flipping their first-year science foundation course, “SCNC1111 Scientific method and reasoning.”

Rachel created a series of short videos using a screen capture software called Camtasia. She started by putting teaching contents in presentation slides, then highlighted keywords and added annotations on a separate tablet while going through the slides. To ensure that students are engaged, she kept the videos short (2-5 minutes), illustrating one concept in each video. Students could also refer back to particular concepts easily. All videos were done in one take. The recording time was roughly the same as the time she used in delivering lectures.

Rachael1Each video will be 2-5 minutes long and covers one concept at a time.

Using videos in a flipped class
The videos were used in flipping the science class. As opposed to lecturing during the entire class, the class now consisted of first replaying videos with explanations, followed by time for in-class activities. For example, in groups of three, student solved problems using concepts learnt from the videos. Teachers were able to walk around the classroom and offer individualized support to students. Selected groups would then present their answers in front of the class using slide projectors. Members of well-performed groups would be awarded one point towards their final grade.

Rickyphotos-3Putting videos online prevents wasted lecture time to teach concepts again.

Through presenting key concepts in short videos, teachers are now free to organize more interactive in-class activities. Students can also consolidate their understanding through reviewing the videos anytime, anywhere. The use of online videos enhances the quality of learning, and it is not difficult to create your own videos via screen-capturing. Want to give it a try? Contact Us.

Further reading:

  1. Flipped Classroom: Overcoming the Challenges
  2. Conquering the 4Cs: Creating Engaging In-class Activities
  3. Flipping the classroom – a success story


Flipping the classroom – a success story

Lectures are typically sit-and-listen sessions. But in Professor Rick Glofcheski’s tort law classes, students do all the talking.

Learn more

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Despite the growing popularity of the flipped classroom approach, many teachers are concerned about students not watching online videos before class. Dr. Lily Zeng addressed this common concern in a seminar on 8 March 2016.

Major challenges in flipping

Over 70% of seminar participants had not flipped a class before, but were considering to do so. They anticipated the following challenges in flipping:


Student preparation was an obvious concern. Related items include “lecture video not watched”, “students not equipped”, “unprepared students”, “preparedness”, “preparation” and “student commitment”.

What should teachers do?

To overcome this challenge, Dr. Zeng recommended that teachers ensure the alignment of pre-class, in-class and after-class activities. In designing a course, they should always keep in mind the intended learning outcomes and make sure that concepts covered in the short videos are related to the in-class activities and assessments. This will create a backwash effect and push students to get prepared for class, or else they will not be able to participate in in-class activities where everyone else is engaged.


When asking students to watch videos before class, consider giving:

  1. extra credits as incentives for those who watch the videos and complete knowledge check questions before class;
  2. clear expectations, i.e., explain to them why they should watch the videos; and
  3. guidance about what to take note of in the videos, such as a short “curator’s message”, some highlights and key questions to think about while watching.

It can be frustrating to know that some students did not do preparations for class. However, we can make use of this opportunity to teach students the importance of doing preparations as a “pre-requisite” of a deep learning experience.

Further reading

  1. Conquering the 4Cs: Creating Engaging In-class Activities

School-university partnership is an important concept driving TELI’s work in reaching out to the younger generation. On March 19, we co-organized the “STEM Learning Fair 2016” with Pak Kau College in Tin Shui Wai to showcase our work in MOOCs, flipped classroom, and engineering education. About 100 secondary school teachers and over 260 students joined the event, where we exchanged ideas and experiences on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education.

At a time when discussions on innovation, entrepreneurship and information literacy are rekindling in the education sector, it is important that we communicate with young people and their teachers the opportunities afforded by STEM education in meaningful and appealing ways. For students, learning in these subjects is a first step to become good problem solvers. “They define objectives more clearly, think more logically, and are better at coming up with step-by-step solutions,” said Professor Ricky Kwok, Associate Vice-President (Teaching and Learning), who gave a keynote speech at the half-day event.

Using a simple learning kit consisted of a battery, a wire and a magnet, TELI challenged a group of primary students to figure out theories behind maglev trains.

For teachers, STEM activities often help them understand better the curiosity and educational needs of their students. “The question is, how to make the most of face-to-face class time to take that interest further,” asked Dr. Leon Lei, E-learning Technologist of TELI, who gave a talk on the challenges of STEM education at the parallel session. Based on his experience in teaching first-year engineering students, he reminded teachers that bringing more hands-on components and group-work experience to class is key to achieving learning objectives of STEM subjects. You may view Dr. Lei’s powerpoint here.

Ricky made special mention that in late April, HKU will be launching an open online course on the basics of flipped classroom and blended learning. Both primary and secondary school teachers are more than welcome to make use of resources in the course to enhance their classes.

Partnering with secondary schools is a rewarding experience for TELI. We will continue to collaborate with different organisations in technology education to further our impact in the community.

Further reading

  1. Promotion of STEM Education – Unleashing Potential in Innovation (Curriculum Development Council, 2015)
  2. The Ecosystem of Innovation and Technology in Hong Kong (Our Hong Kong Foundation, 2015)
Course Trailer
Here is a chance for you to explore the endless possibilities of e-learning with us. HKU will be launching an open online course on the basics of e-learning for teachers of all sectors on Apr 14. This course will teach you how to create educational videos, flip your classroom and improve your teaching through analyzing students’ online behaviour. You will also gain exposure to the latest EdTech used in both on-campus teaching and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). You will have a chance to create your own videos with our e-learning technologists at HKU.
This course, entitled “Scale Out Teaching; Scale Up Learning”, includes both interactive online lectures and face-to-face video-making workshops. The course schedule is as follows:
Date Session Topics
14 Apr Online Session 0
Online Session 1
E-learning Ecosystem: Setting the Scene
Interactive Online Learning: Getting Started
22 Apr Face-to-Face Session A Creating Your Online Video
28 Apr Online Session 2 Blended Learning: Teaching On-Campus
5 May Online Session 3 MOOC: Teaching The World
12 May Online Session 4 Learning Analytics: Using Learner’s Data To Improve Teaching
20 May Face-to-Face Session B Show and Tell
boltThe course is part of the Blended & Online Learning & Teaching (BOLT) Project, which aims at supporting professional development of teachers’ skills in online and blended teaching. The project is a collaborative effort of five institutions – PolyU, HKIEd, HKBU, HKU and HKUST. All teachers are welcome to join this vibrant learning community.
Embark your e-learning journey with us now!

Flipping the classroom allows teachers to present instructional materials before class mostly via short videos, freeing class time for interactive activities in the face-to-face sessions. But, what is the definition of quality in-class activities? Dr. Lily Zeng and Professor Ricky Kwok shared their insights in a workshop on 8 March 2016.

The 4Cs

Ricky’s formula of engaging class activities comprises 4Cs:

Collaborative work promotes mutual scaffolding and peer-to-peer learning. For example, in Professor Rick Glofcheski’s Tort Law class, students had to analyze legal cases together.

It is also a good idea to balance collaboration with healthy competition in the classroom. We should provide students with a platform to race with each other and achieve a given goal within limited time. For example, In CCST9003 Everyday Computing and the Internet, students are challenged to solve a Rubik’s cube in the shortest time possible.

By giving students a chance to co-create content, we are prompting them to learn from each other. For example, Professor Benson Yeh asked students to design their own questions for the class.

Students should be given credits for their effort; where possible, their participation should be appropriately assessed. This will incentivize students to constantly improve their performance. For example, participation in the Interprofessional Team-based Learning (IPTBL) for health professional students would contribute to the grade of some students.


The 4Cs can take many different forms. One possibility is to engage your students with learning games during the lesson.

As Ricky pointed out in the workshop, “Gamification is all about how to engage students; how we can incentivize them to take desirable actions. And desirable actions in our context today, is to make learning happen; it’s to achieve the learning outcomes.” “With a good design, you can … engage your students [to] learn the things that you want them to learn. And if you can structure that learning activity as a game, then it will be even better.”

Developing a learning game may seem an impossible challenge to some. But don’t worry. TELI is here to work with you. You can always bring your rough ideas to us and we can brainstorm together. The following questions may help you get started:

  1. Which topic do you want to work on?
  2. Do you want students to play the game as pre-class or in-class activity?

It is possible to begin with a rough idea and develop it into something big. In fact, it is okay even if you don’t have any idea about gamification at all. Come to us. We will show you game prototypes we are currently developing and offer you suggestions.

Further reading

  1. Sharing by Rick Glofcheski on Flipped Learning
  2. The Successful Story of Professor Benson Yeh, a Teacher-turned-Entrepreneur
  3. Not just for fun: Gamify your class

Developing a learning game is not just about making the teaching materials an easier pill to swallow, but is also an attempt to create a resource so engaging that students will beg for more. In our Game Design Meetings, we figured that there are at least eight things to consider in gamification.

  1. Balance between fun and education
    Developing a learning game is different from preparing serious powerpoint presentations. While both aim at facilitating learning, the element of FUN is of particular importance in games.
  2. Have a good understanding of both the educational topic and the game mechanism
    To produce a game which is both fun and educational, it is of ultimate importance to figure out how to transform learning contents into gaming elements. Equally important is a good understanding of the type of game you intend to make, e.g., card game, collaborative multiplayer game, detective game, etc. The best way to familiarize yourself with a particular game mechanism is to try playing some related games.
  3. Form a diverse team
    It is important to have people with different expertise in your team to pool ideas and create a game for a diverse audience. Our Game Design Team comprises of instructional designers, multimedia experts, research associates, designers and programme developers.

    While it is natural to include professional gamers in the development team, it is also crucial to invite laymen to join. Sometimes an uninformed opinion can be valuable in shaping the game.
  4. Draw inspiration from existing games
    Existing games are successful for a reason. Try them out and learn from them. For example, if you want to develop a strategic board game, recommended games include Kingdom Builder, Settlers of Catan, Carcassonne, Tickets to Ride, etc….
  5. Copyright
    When drawing inspirations from other games, be aware of copyright issues. Consult your local copyright office if necessary.
  6. Document all ideas discussed
    Take note of all crazy ideas in your discussions, whether they are related to the main theme, scoring mechanism, functions of a particular card, anything. A seemingly useless or silly idea may eventually become an important element of the final product. Keeping a log book of ideas also makes it easier to create ‘trailers’ and draft official documents such as game specifications in the future.
  7. Test out your prototype – again and again
    Once you have developed a prototype, try playing it. Does it work? Is it playable? Does it facilitate learning? Invite your colleagues and friends to try it out.
  8. Ensure every player has an equal chance to win
    Test the game repeatedly to see if every player has a fair chance to win. Unfair games may demotivate learners.

Developing an original educational game is challenging but fun. Contact us if you are interested in developing a learning game for your students at HKU. Have fun!

360 degree group photo

Speech by President Mathieson: Girls4Tech is exactly what HeForShe envisages

On February 27, 2016, more than 120 bright young ladies from 17 local secondary schools gathered at HKU for the student-led event “Girls4Tech” to learn about careers in the tech industry and attempt hands-on coding exercises. Both our undergraduate organizers and the junior participants were greatly inspired by the experience.

At the one-day workshop, participants were engaged in a series of activities involving computing concepts such as coding, encryption, and sorting. In his opening speech, our President Professor Peter Mathieson encouraged young girls to challenge stereotypes and embrace new opportunities that our society has to offer in traditionally male-dominated sectors, including research, technology and computer science. “Technology is fundamentally about problem solving, and there’s no gender-specific environment to that,” he said. A number of distinguished women tech leaders also shared their career development journeys. Starting from March, participants will also be visiting tech giants such as Lenovo, Microsoft (Hong Kong), IBM, and Google to gain a deeper understanding of the tech industry.

“Girls4Tech 2016” was organized by TecHKU, short for The HKU Journal of Technology, formed by a group of students from the Faculties of Engineering and Social Sciences. This annual event aims to nurture computational thinking in secondary school girls and to inspire them on possibilities of developing a career in the tech sector. “We noticed that most companies in the region were trying to bridge the gender equity gap in technology by organizing similar events for university students, but we believed that such interests would be best triggered at a younger age,” said Vikay Narayen, student founder and consultant of TecHKU. According to a feedback survey conducted by TecHKU, 86.9% of the 85 respondents said they became more interested in tech after the event; 11% more reflected they are now interested to study ICT for the HKDSEs after joining the event.

(Source: TecHKU)

TELI was in full support of this event because we recognise the need to provide a broad range of knowledge exchange opportunities for our next generation, and we see the great potential of having our students empower their younger fellows. We deeply appreciate TecHKU’s initiative, which might have created life-long impact in the girls’ lives.

More photos of the event can be found on our Facebook and Instagram.
Stay tuned for more reports on the event.


Organized by Centre for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning (CETL), E-learning Pedagogical Support Unit (EPSU) and Technology-Enriched Learning Initiative (TELI)

Speakers: Dr. Lily Zeng, Assistant Professor, CETL
Professor Ricky Kwok, Associate Vice-President (Teaching and Learning)
Date : 8 March, 2016 (Tuesday)
Time : 12:45pm – 2:00pm
Venue : Room 321, Run Run Shaw Building (Main Campus), HKU

About the Joint Workshop

Many teachers who are planning to flip their classes might agree that moving traditional lectures online is an effective way to deliver instructional materials. More importantly, it can also make room for quality interactions between teachers and students. However, after the flip, what kind of learning opportunities can we create to engage, inspire, provoke, or even shock our students in the face-to-face sessions, the “face time”? How should face time and screen time be meaningfully blended? In this workshop, you will hear cases of flipped classes in different disciplines, analyze the key elements of the pedagogical strategies used in face time, identify the activities that you might be able to use, and come away with initial plans for a flipped class. Be sure to bring your wireless device and a lesson that you are considering flipping to work on!

This workshop is open to the first 42 registered participants to ensure that there is enough time to accommodate questions, provide comments, and give feedback for each participant.


For enquiries, please contact Miss Bonnie Yu by email yka0201@hku.hk.

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