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  • Writer's pictureZornitsa Licheva

Advance Your Blended Learning: Example from Hong Kong

Take inspiration from an online education platform created by four universities before Covid-19.

In the current situation, universities have no choice but to rethink their conventional modes of teaching. This blended learning platform developed by the Hong Kong government in 2018 has hit the right spot following the surge of online education during Covid-19.

Four local universities started Responsive4U as an experimental project. Students can take for-credit courses taught by partner universities via a combination of online and in-person classes. The platform has welcomed 2,000 students who can choose from a catalogue of 11 courses, but there are even bigger plans for the future of the initiative.

Experimental modes of teaching

The participating institutions – the University of Hong Kong (HKU), The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Chinese University of Hong Kong, and Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) – worked together on teaching formats, functionalities, and even marketing. Today, it looks like the platform is well ahead of the game as universities grapple with the consequences of Covid-19 globally.

The project is “a stress test for genuine collaboration between institutions.” It presents novel ways to “push the envelope in terms of the systemic arrangements for courses,” says Ricky Kwok, an engineering professor from HKU and Response4U’s project leader. The creators of Responsive4U have ideas about delivering educational content separate from time and space and beyond “course, departmental or even institutional boundaries”.

How do they go about it?

Live taught sessions may no longer need to include didactic teaching. Those classes can be completed with pre-recorded videos, which frees up classroom time for active learning,” Times Higher Education explains.

Many of today’s students like to binge-watch videos, Professor Kwok also points out. He believes this to be a good starting point for introducing more compressed modes of teaching. Didactic learning could take place online in three or four intensive weeks. “That would leave the remaining 10 weeks of a semester for exchanges, experiential learning, or service in the community,” he adds.

Hybrid classes will also bring great potential in the future. Each course would have both online and face-to-face versions, which would run in parallel. Students could switch between the virtual and the physical as they wish, explains Chetwyn Chan, Associate Vice-president at PolyU.

The creators of the platform will continue to push its limits and experiment with new online education offerings.

PolyU’s focus is on professional education, so our students don’t always have the opportunity to be exposed to people outside these professions,” Mr Chan added. “General education courses are quite new to us, and this project gives our students a wider choice.

Source: Times Higher Education

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