It has been reported that the Education Department launched a pilot scheme on electronic schoolbags in 10 primary and secondary schools in September last year. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) of the way in which electronic schoolbags operate and their effectiveness in teaching and learning as well as reducing the weight of schoolbags carried by students;
(b) whether it will promote the use of electronic schoolbags in all primary schools in Hong Kong; if so, of the details and the estimated expenditure; and
(c) whether it has conducted surveys on students' and parents' acceptance of electronic schoolbags; if so, of the survey results?
(a) Electronic schoolbags refer to the electronic devices for storing learning resources. The system hardware comprises notebook computers or Personal Digital Assistants operating on a wireless connection to the Local Area Network (LAN) of the schools and the Internet through the use of wireless LAN cards. With the electronic schoolbags, students may retrieve learning resources available on the LAN and the Internet, browse or read the information as required for their study. With their ease of storing and retrieving of learning resources, electronic schoolbags help create an interactive or self-learning environment for students. They also allow schools to create virtual computer rooms and make flexible arrangements for interactive or group teaching and learning activities. These devices can help foster facilitate a paradigm shift in the mode of teaching to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of teaching and learning. The pilot scheme on electronic schoolbags is now being implemented in 10 schools. Some of these schools have arranged out-of-class learning with their students using electronic schoolbags (e.g. visits to the Hong Kong International Airport and interviews with tourists, star gazing at an observatory, etc.) Teachers in these schools have realised the merits of electronic schoolbags in enhancing life-wide learning, giving full play to the interactivity between teaching and learning as well as promoting interests in studies. As electronic schoolbags provide students with access to various study aids such as subject information, maps and dictionaries, they are also effective in helping to reduce the weight of schoolbags in this context.
(2) The pilot scheme on electronic schoolbags will be completed in August 2003, after which the Government will review the scheme and consider whether the scheme should be extended to all schools.
(3) Initial feedback from schools implementing the pilot scheme indicates that teachers in general accept the electronic schoolbags as a useful means to lead students to the abundant learning resources on the LAN and the Internet for information retrieval, browsing, analysis and discussion. The devices are also recognised as a teaching aid that helps nurture interest and ability in self-learning. Teachers generally share the view that students welcome this mode of studying and that the scheme is effective in stimulating and enhancing study initiatives. The Government will further consult teachers and parents to gauge their acceptance of electronic schoolbags under the aforesaid review.
End/Wednesday, February 26, 2003