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Suspending Classes without Suspending Learning

 

Mr Kevin Yeung
Secretary for Education

 

     The threat of the novel coronavirus has upset our everyday life. School classes need to be temporarily suspended to prevent the spread of the epidemic through campus activities and safeguard the health of students. During class suspension, I hope that all students can stay home to reduce the likelihood of infection. They should observe personal hygiene, exercise regularly at home and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Class suspension does not mean extended school holiday. Students should make good use of their time and keep learning to achieve "suspending classes without suspending learning".

 

Greater Efficacy with Information Technology in Education

 

     Over the past two decades, the Education Bureau has invested a total of $14 billion in implementing four Strategies on Information Technology (IT) in Education. At present, the current expenditure on IT in education reaches $0.7 billion per annum. On top of funding, we have also provided schools with teaching resources, teacher training and on-site support on a continual basis. With these, schools have been able to fully develop their school-based strategies and the professional capacities of their teachers. e-Learning has gradually become an integral part of students’ everyday learning. Though there are no signs that the current epidemic will shortly die out and the date of class resumption remains uncertain, I am confident that students can achieve the goal of "suspending classes without suspending learning" through systematic e-learning plans.

 

     Schools can make use of various e-learning strategies and provide learning materials to students through e-learning platforms and learning management systems, emails, school websites as well as other effective means. On the part of teachers, in light of school-based curriculum and students’ learning progress, they can flexibly adopt diversified teaching materials to enable interactive learning and teaching across time and space with the aid of desktop, tablet or laptop computers and even smartphones. For example, some teachers produce video clips for students, track learning progress systematically when students have completed online exercises after viewing, and provide learning support accordingly.

 

Setting up Online Classrooms with the Support of Cloud Technology

 

     With wider use of the Internet and cloud technology, a number of free and user-friendly applications for online video conferencing are available on the market. They can support up to 250 online users at the same time. School management can use such applications to convene distance panel meetings for discussions over school administration. For teachers, the video conferencing function also enables them to deliver real-time online lessons in student groups. They can interact with students and provide instant guidance and feedback on screen. Since live streams are recordable, students may view or replay whenever they prefer.

 

     Though students are not supposed to go to school for the time being, as long as teachers and students have common online platforms connecting their homes, virtual classrooms come into being. In these new spaces, teaching, learning, discussion and sharing can continue. I invite schools to make better use of online classrooms and coordinate real-time teaching among different subject panels with a view to supporting students in home learning during class suspension.

 

Pleasurable Learning with Appropriate Learning Plans

 

     Some parents have recently expressed their concerns to me that idling at home might cause their children to lag behind in studies. Others are worried that homework may become too heavy and difficult for their children and parents may have to assist. It is our common wish that students should have balanced development. In keeping with the spirit of home-school cooperation, schools will maintain communication with parents over, among other things, details of school-based arrangements for e-learning. On the premise of maintaining students’ motivation and interests in learning without exerting undue pressure on students and parents, I encourage schools to devise weekly e-learning plans for students by class level and subject, so that students could continue learning systematically and at appropriate pace during class suspension. Apart from doing the usual assignments, students may take the opportunity to learn about epidemics and related knowledge, such as public hygiene, health education and life education, which could also suit their interests and needs.

 

     In addition to providing schools with online resourcesNote to facilitate student learning at home, we also render continued support to teachers as needed through telephone hotlines (3698 3669 and 3698 3571), mobile communication applications, webinars, etc.

 

Fighting the Epidemic with Concerted Efforts

 

     The Education Bureau will contact schools in due course to understand how they are implementing "suspending classes without suspending learning". I believe that out of adversity comes opportunity. The school sector can further capitalise the advantages of e-learning amid the epidemic.

 

Note:

 

Online resources on "Suspending Classes without Suspending Learning"

 

1."Using e-learning platforms in combination with flipped classroom strategy to support student learning at home" webpage (https://www.edb.gov.hk/ited/eh): more than 30 video clips are uploaded, with well-experienced teachers explaining the use of e-learning platforms, flipped classroom strategies and real-time online teaching practices, and demonstrating operations with a step-by-step approach, to serve as teachers’ reference and help teachers grasp the skills better.

 

2. Learn at Home with Diverse Online Resources" webpage launched by the Hong Kong Education City (https://www.hkedcity.net/home/en/learning): e-learning resources, such as multimedia, reading and assessment materials; game-based learning platforms; and educational television programmes for various subjects are made available under the categories of different key stages.

 

3."EDB One-stop Portal for Learning & Teaching Resources" webpage (https://www.hkedcity.net/edbosp): comprehensive learning materials are provided under the categories of key learning areas, curriculum emphases and key tasks.

 

12 February 2020