Chapter 4 Learning and Teaching

4.3 Approaches and Strategies

During the three-year senior secondary ICT curriculum, students work towards the learning targets of “knowledge and understanding”, “skills” and “values and attitudes” mentioned in Chapter 2. To help teachers and to enhance the effectiveness of learning and teaching in the

Assessment How do

students learn and teachers teach?

Alignment for student learning What is worth learning?

How do we know students have learnt?




context of ICT, examples of learning activities for a number of topics in the curriculum are introduced in this chapter. Teachers should note, however, that:

 the suggestions are by no means the only approaches/activities which can be used to teach the topics specified in the examples – to facilitate learning, teachers can employ a wide range of teaching strategies to suit the different needs of their students; and

 the examples in this chapter aim to illustrate the more significant learning outcomes that can be achieved in lessons but, in fact, students can achieve a number of learning targets during the same learning process.

4.3.1 Acquisition of Content Knowledge

The curriculum provides students with access to vast networks of information. During their studies, students should: develop knowledge and understanding of the range and organisation of computer systems; understand the inter-relationships between hardware, software and data;

and realise the social, ethical and legal issues related to the use of ICT.

Example 1

Compulsory Part

Module: A Information Processing

Topic: a Introduction to Information Processing

Theme: The input-process-output cycle of a vending machine

Students are asked to describe the working cycle of a vending machine in terms of input, process and output. Students may come to a conclusion that a stored program which follows the input–process–output cycle governs a vending machine.

In the process of getting to this conclusion, students need to identify and examine the components of an information system (the vending machine). In doing so, they may discover that many daily-life incidents – both computer-based and non-computer-based processes – are examples of information processing.

4.3.2 Development of Generic Skills

The senior secondary ICT curriculum involves a variety of classroom activities, such as reading reference materials, collecting data/information, designing and processing. Generic skills, especially creativity, critical thinking and problem-solving skills, are integrated into the learning and teaching of the subject.


Students can develop their creative abilities by, for example, generating ideas of their own, making new combinations of old elements, using different strategies to solve a programming problem and working out different database designs.

88 Example 2

Elective Part

Option: B Data Communications and Networking Topic: b Network Design and Implementation Theme: Network design for a clubhouse

A teacher gives the class the task of designing a computer network model for a clubhouse.

The resulting model does not have to be a working prototype but should convey the key features of the intended design ideas. In this activity, students have to use their imagination to create a new look or add new functional features to the clubhouse. They can experiment with different topologies, rearrange the cables etc. when making the prototype.

From the conceptualisation of initial ideas to the realisation of the final design, students are encouraged to generate more than one design solution and then critically appraise the aesthetic value and functional characteristics of each design.

Critical thinking skills

Students have to reflect regularly on their ideas, designs, choices of materials and tools in relation to the task set. Students develop their critical thinking skills through such processes.

Example 3 Elective Part

Option: A Databases

Topic: b Relational Databases

Theme: A database for a library book reservation system

(Note: This example focuses on the development of students’ critical thinking skills. An elaborated version to illustrate the integration of generic skills is given in Appendix 1.)

Students are asked to create a simple relational database for a computerised library book reservation system for their schools. In this task, they investigate the needs of their schoolmates and provide solutions for developing such a system.

The process of developing the solutions nurtures students’ critical thinking skills through the following activities: (1) analysing the requirements of a computerised book reservation system; (2) creating a simple relational database; and (3) appraising various aspects of the solutions against the design specifications.

Problem-solving skills

In studying ICT, students are provided with many activities to develop their problem-solving skills.

89 Example 4

Elective Part

Option: C Multimedia Production and Web Site Development Topic: a Multimedia Production

Theme: Presenting a report on the Sports Day

Students are asked to make use of their ICT skills to present their observations on their school’s Sports Day on the Internet. They have to decide on the information to be collected and on what equipment they have to use during the Sports Day. In order to make the presentation more interesting, students have to employ different methods to produce the desired effects.

In this activity, students develop their problem-solving skills by identifying the problems, designing their own solutions, gathering the necessary information, selecting the best possible solution, and presenting and evaluating their results.

4.3.3 Development of Values and Attitudes

In the senior secondary ICT curriculum, students are expected to appreciate how information literacy and the sharing of knowledge using ICT influence decision-making and shape our society. They should develop responsible and positive attitudes towards the use of ICT.

Example 5

Compulsory Part

Module: E Social Implications Topic: c Intellectual Property

Theme: A debate on the benefits and risks of different software licensing schemes

Students have to debate the benefits and risks of different licensing schemes such as freeware, shareware, open source software and copyrighted software from the perspectives of users and software developers.

In this activity, students develop positive values and attitudes towards the idea of intellectual property and copyright, and then are more aware of the ways to reduce intellectual property theft on digital property.

4.3.4 Choosing Appropriate Strategies

Learning ICT is a complex, multi-faceted, active and interactive process. Apart from the traditional lecturing approach, active learning elements should be infused into classroom activities for effective learning and teaching. Teachers should employ a repertoire of strategies to provide students with multiple ways to acquire the knowledge, concepts and skills that this curriculum encompasses; and they should help students to gain a deep understanding of content knowledge, as well as generic skills, such as problem-solving, critical thinking, creativity, communication, meta-cognition, and the capacity to learn how to learn.


Teachers must, therefore, not only be knowledgeable about ICT, but also have the pedagogical skills and knowledge to deliver the curriculum.

Teachers should also strive to develop the potential of every student to the full. For this purpose, they should adopt enquiry and problem-based learning, provide prompt support to students, interact with them as a facilitator of learning, and provide timely and useful feedback.

Direct instruction

Direct instruction involves transmitting knowledge from teacher to student, often in small steps, after which the teacher checks on student understanding through questions. In general, direct instruction has four teaching functions: presenting new material, guiding practice, correcting and providing feedback, and encouraging independent practice. This method has been shown to be particularly effective in areas which involve well-structured, straightforward tasks where teachers can provide general guidelines and students can practise independently. An example of the use of a direct instruction approach is given below.

Example 6

Compulsory Part

Module: A Information Processing

Topic: d The Use of Office Automation Software

Theme: Designing and creating effective formatted documents or reports using a word-processing tool

This class is conducted in the computer room. The teacher demonstrates how to perform various formatting features, such as tables, columns, text frames and graphics, using a computer and projector. After the demonstration, the students practise on their computers, the teacher observes them and gives feedback. Through individual practice, students learn various formatting methods and note the effects of the formatting features. This knowledge and skill gives them the background for performing more meaningful tasks such as creating advertisement fliers and newsletters in the future.


In an enquiry approach the students find out information by themselves. They engage in complex cognitive processes which require thoughtful discourse, and are often involved in self-directed learning. They are invited to make assumptions and predictions and debate alternatives in a meaningful context and so develop their critical thinking skills. Students are also encouraged to provide explanations/elaborations of their answers. The concept of teaching as enquiry is illustrated in the following activities which may take place inside or outside the classroom.

91 Example 7

Elective Part

Option: A Databases

Topic: c Introduction to Database Design Methodology

Theme: Analysing simple scenarios in business, education or other fields and creating simple ER diagrams involving binary relationships only in designing a database.

(Note: This example focuses on using an enquiry-based strategy. An elaborated version using multiple teaching strategies is given in Appendix 2.)

One or two weeks before the lesson, the teacher asks students to form pairs and start to investigate the data required for a school library system. Students are encouraged to go through the procedures for borrowing and returning books in a public library if the school library system has not yet computerised. They are also asked to search for related information from the Internet, and discuss the relevant issues with their classmates/a librarian/friends/parents. Students need to think critically about the data involved in such a system. They have to write down the static data (e.g. about users of the system, such as student_number, student_class, and about books (such as ISBN, title, author, publisher) and the dynamic data to be recorded when a book is borrowed or returned, and then design and construct the database tables for a school library system.

In the classroom, the teacher asks three to four groups of students to present their findings during lesson time. The students need to state the assumptions they have made about the functions of a school library system, and provide explanation for their designs of the table structures. Various creative designs may arise from the knowledge they have gained from self-directed learning in the previous stage. The teacher should offer hints to the students if they are unable to identify the critical data required during this stage. (e.g. that the book return/borrowing process requires data such as student_number, ISBN, date_borrow/date_

return). Students can compare different designs and examine critically how the information/functions (say books on loan, books not returned after the due date, the most popular books during a period of time, etc.) can be derived/performed from the suggested table structures of a database. By asking students to present their designs with explanations and allowing them to observe their peers doing the same, students learn how to make important and rational decisions about the information to convey and how to convey it.

Besides learning the content of the topic, students learn to work collaboratively, and respect each other’s contributions in completing the task successfully.

92 Scaffolding

Scaffolding provides temporary task-oriented support which allows students to perform tasks or solve problems which they cannot accomplish on their own. It is an interactive process in which the student is assisted by others (teachers or peers) to acquire knowledge or skill. For learning to take place, a learner must have sufficient background knowledge to be able to start to process new information into personal knowledge. Scaffolding helps learners to make connections between what they already know and the new information being presented; and in this way, it develops mental schemas, into which the new information is integrated and becomes personal knowledge that is meaningful to them. For example, at the start, the teacher might explain what is to be learnt, to assist the learners in knowing where they are going; and in the scaffolding activities, he/she needs to pay particular attention to inconsistencies in learners’ responses as they may lead to students’ misconceptions later on.

Example 8 Elective Part

Option: A Databases

Topic: c Introduction to Database Design Methodology Theme: Creating simple ER diagrams.

In creating ER diagrams, the teacher may want to see if students can identify entities and the attributes in a simple scenario (e.g. a simplified public library system); or he/she may suggest that students start by identifying entities only. If this fails, the teacher needs to point out the entities (e.g. BOOK, READER) and ask students to name the attributes for the entities in turn (e.g. Title, Author, Publisher and ISBN for BOOK; ID-number, Name, Address for READER). After entities and their attributes are identified, the teacher may ask students to discuss the possible relationships between entities; and the students will produce various designs based on the knowledge they have gained from previous experience. The teacher should prompt students that different function requirements of a system may need different database designs (e.g. keeping the current loan status of a book may require fewer tables in the database compared with keeping the book’s entire loan history).

For successful scaffolding, teachers should give just enough support to enable students to carry out the task.

93 Feedback

During the learning and teaching process, teachers can give informal feedback to help students to see what they need to do to achieve the learning objectives or enhance their learning further. Teachers should also encourage students to express themselves openly and share their work in class. The feedback provided should be constructive and supportive and avoid lowering students’ self-esteem. Also, students should be encouraged to develop the skill of giving useful feedback to their peers. With the increased use of project learning, timely feedback from teachers, peers or even experts from outside the school helps students to reflect on their thinking and build up their personal knowledge.

Example 9 Elective Part

Option: A Databases

Topic: c Introduction to Database Design Methodology Theme: Understanding the concepts of data redundancy

The teacher presents samples of “Examination Results” in a table format and helps students to identify “data, records, fields and file” in the hierarchical organisation of data. He/she then asks students to present “BOOK” information in a similar format. Students can present this information in a three-column table with title, author and publisher as column headings. If students are asked to give more examples of book data using the school’s textbook list, it is likely that the same publisher will appear in the table a number of times – and the teacher should point out the possibility that the same publisher may appear differently in the table (e.g. due to typing errors). The teacher can then ask students to discuss the possible consequences of duplicated data in the table if the data are to be updated in future – and also suggest how to prevent storing duplicated data. This helps to build up students’ knowledge on database concepts and thus improves their learning of database design.

Timely feedback from teachers helps students to reflect on their thinking and enhances their understanding and retention of new content knowledge.


Teachers can be students’ partners in the co-construction of knowledge. During the co-construction process, both teacher and students contribute ideas regarding a topic.

Teachers facilitate discussion by asking open-ended questions and require students to compare and defend their own arguments. Sometimes teachers might set some constraints or counter arguments to students in order to lead them to the expected direction. By doing so students will have to generate, review and modify their ideas along with their peer and teachers. This iterative process allows teachers and students working together as facilitators and learners with changing roles which leads to knowledge creation through co-construction.

94 Example 10

Compulsory Part

Module: E Social Implications Topic: c Intellectual Property

Theme: e-forum on acts of infringement of copyright

Teachers can make use of the school intranet to allow discussion between themselves and students, and among students. They can start an e-forum on the topic “Social, legal and economic implications of acts of infringement of copyright”. Each student is required to post an item of news, a court case, a URL etc. related to the issue, and then give his/her views on the material posted by other students. The teacher should participate on a regular basis, encourage critical thinking, and prompt students to think logically and provide evidence to support their opinions. By sharing his/her thoughts through this electronic platform, each participant also gains deeper understanding of the topic being discussed.

Discussion/debate can be carried out outside the classroom. Feedback and reflection may lead to new questions and the cycle of learning moves forward. Students discuss and answer each other’s questions at any time they like. Sometimes they may include topics beyond the curriculum.

4.3.5 Teaching for Understanding

Knowledge and skills learnt at the level of rote memorisation rarely transfer to other contexts.

The transfer of learning occurs best when students understand the underlying principles that can be applied to problems in new situations.

To promote understanding, teachers need to know clearly what it is they want to teach. For instance, in Example 6, the teacher introduced how to design and create formatted documents or reports effectively by demonstrating various formatting features and asking students to do meaningful tasks related to the real world.

Secondly, teachers should identify what is worth understanding. Faced with the rapid advances in computer technology, students should be encouraged to read computer journals and magazines, update their computer knowledge and skills through various means such as educational newsgroups and websites available on the Internet, and attend workshops or participate in contests in order to enrich their learning experiences. All these activities help to develop students’ potential in the computer industry and nurture their capacity for being lifelong learners.

Thirdly, teachers should decide how to teach for understanding. For instance, in Example 7, the teacher should help students to understand the design methodology using ER diagrams. In pairs, students analyse simple scenarios in the school library; and by the time they present their designs with explanations, they should have developed their understanding of the content, and learnt to work collaboratively, respecting each other’s contributions in completing the task successfully.


4.3.6 Learning Outside Classroom

Teachers should explore opportunities for students to learn in authentic settings. Such experiential learning enables students to achieve certain learning goals that are more difficult to attain through classroom learning alone.

Libraries, government departments, public institutions and non-government organisations are all potential sources of information for studying different issues in the senior secondary ICT curriculum. In fact, opportunities for learning exist everywhere in the community. Schools can also make use of their connections to arrange cross-border exchange programmes or visits to broaden students’ horizons on ICT.

There are also organisations which are willing to support student learning of the curriculum in various ways, such as providing updated information, producing curriculum resources, and organising competitions and talks. One of these competitions – the HKOI, which is co-organised by the government and a non-government organisation – requires students to learn computer programming at a level they do not usually reach in class.

In document Information and Communication Technology Curriculum and Assessment Guide (Secondary 4 - 6) (Page 96-105)