technical support available.
5.3 e-Learning is an open and flexible learning mode. It allows students to construct knowledge through interacting with the sources, as well as co-construct knowledge in collaboration with their peers, which makes learning more interesting and effective. We hope that students will develop their capabilities for self-directed and life-long learning, as well as master the skills to search, select, evaluate and apply information to solve problems through e-Learning. Through learning to communicate and collaborate with others to construct knowledge using the Internet, they will also broaden their horizons. All these are essential skills and qualities that our young people need to have. Besides, e-Learning can be flexibly used to cater for students’ diverse needs and learning styles. All WG members and stakeholders agree that e-Learning is a growing trend in schools and will become a major learning mode in the future.
5.4 The public generally accept e-Learning but they have concerns in relation to the support measures. As their understanding of e-Learning varies, their expectations of the support measures are different. Generally speaking, the sustainable implementation of e-Learning will depend on three conditions: (1) pedagogies and teachers’ professional development; (2) availability of e-Learning resources; and (3) hardware and technical support.
5.5 Pedagogical strategies and teachers’ professional development: Human factors directly affect the implementation of e-Learning. The findings from our questionnaire have shown that most teachers believe that they have sufficient IT knowledge and skills. On different occasions, many stakeholders have observed that the successful implementation of e-Learning hinges upon whether teachers can adopt appropriate learning and teaching strategies and create a flexible, interactive and student-centred learning environment to meet the learning objectives and students’ needs.
5.6 Availability of e-Learning resources: Many stakeholders believe that the success of e-Learning depends on the availability of quality e-Learning resources. Although at present there is a huge amount of e-Learning resources available for free online, our stakeholders believe quality
comes before quantity. We are in need of comprehensive e-Learning packages which complement the curriculum and provide useful learning materials in lessons, as well as sources of reference for further inquiry outside lessons.
5.7 Hardware and technical support: In the open seminars, the participants proposed various models for implementing e-Learning and relevant support measures. Some thought that students must increase their exposure to, and use of, e-Learning resources. Thus, a
“one-person-one-computer” learning environment was necessary. However, some suggested that a
“one-group-one-computer” learning environment, when appropriately used, could enhance collaboration and peer learning. Whichever mode of the implementation is adopted, hardware and technical support provided to schools should be enhanced if e-Learning resources are to be more widely used in learning and teaching.
5.8 Based on practical experiences in implementing e-Learning and stakeholders’ expectations, e-Learning should be implemented in a diversified manner rather than in one single mode. The WG recommends that the Government should launch a pilot scheme to look into the suitable modes of implementing e-Learning as well as the necessary support measures. The Pilot Scheme serves to: (1) develop, test and evaluate different teaching practices; (2) understand the extent of teachers’ need for e-Learning resources and support services; (3) understand the infrastructure and technical support that schools require (e.g. the optimal student-computer ratio when using e-Learning resources); (4) understand the challenges schools will face when e-Learning are widely used on strategic school development (e.g. curriculum design, teachers’ professional development, resources management, and school-parent cooperation), so as to facilitate the development of an e-Learning mode unique to Hong Kong.
5.9 Regarding the implementation arrangements of the pilot scheme, the WG has made the following remarks for government’s reference:
(i) Start with primary schools first and then secondary schools;
(ii) When implementing the pilot scheme, an open invitation will be sent to ask schools to submit proposals on e-Learning implementation. The EDB will vet their proposals and decide whether to approve them and provide the successful schools with funding;
(iii) The EDB should exercise necessary coordination to ensure that a range of different types of schools, subjects, and implementation models are included in the pilot scheme;
(iv) Schools in the pilot scheme may invite academics to conduct research studies to evaluate students’ learning effectiveness after the implementation of e-Learning;
(v) The pilot schools should collaborate with relevant sectors (e.g. the publishing sector and the IT sector) to develop e-Learning resources and technical solutions;
(vi) The Government may set up a steering committee as well as encourage and support the industries to set up a cross-sector working group. The duties of the steering committee include providing guidance and support for the pilot schools and evaluating the outcome and effectiveness of the pilot scheme, as well as making recommendations to the Government on the strategies for the full implementation of e-Learning.
5.10 The pilot scheme aims to pave way for the long-term implementation of e-Learning through developing the conditions for success as stated in paragraph 5.4. To start with, pedagogies that enhance e-Learning will be developed. Successful experiences and examples of good practice will be identified and shared in professional development programmes to help teachers master the approaches.
5.11 The WG believes that the sustainable development of e-Learning resources requires the joint efforts of various sectors. Textbook publishers or the IT sector can work with the pilot schools and academics to develop practical and pedagogically-sound e-Learning resources, as well as a mode of operation that suits schools’ needs, a synergy that could break new ground in the e-Learning resources market. To parents, as long as students are able to use e-Learning resources effectively, the money spent on printed learning materials will be shifted to the use of computers and e-Learning materials. This will not cause any drastic change in their expenditure on learning
5.12 The existing IT infrastructure in schools is sufficient to provide an appropriate environment for implementation of various modes of e-Learning. Apart from the existing recurrent subsidy for setting up an interactive learning environment, the Government should consider providing non-recurrent grants, where necessary, to strengthen the IT infrastructure in schools. In addition to the conditions stated in paragraph 5.4., the long-term implementation of e-Learning requires the cooperation and support of various parties, especially parents and the business and industry sector.
Their support would provide favourable conditions for e-Learning to develop into a major learning mode.
5.13 After considering various comments and factors, the WG has made the following recommendations:
1. e-Learning should become the major mode of learning in the future. The mode adopted should be diverse rather than inflexible or single-faceted.
2. In order to look into how e-Learning should be implemented in class as well as support measures needed, the Government should launch a pilot scheme to support schools which are keen on developing e-Learning so that they can try out e-Learning based on their experiences and ideas.
3. Schools joining the pilot scheme should collaborate with relevant sectors to develop pedagogy for e-Learning, promote teachers’ professional development, develop IT infrastructure and support measures as well as develop the market for e-Learning resources.
4. The Government may consider setting up a steering committee as well as encourage and support the relevant sectors to form a cross-sector working group. Apart from supervising the implementation of the pilot scheme, the duties of the steering committee will also include evaluating the outcomes and effectiveness of the pilot scheme and making recommendations to the Government on the long-term strategies on the full implementation of e-Learning. The cross-sector consortium will endeavour to promote collaboration and partnership among schools, the publishing sector and the information technology sector with a view to enhancing the effectiveness of the pilot scheme.
5. The sustainable development of e-Learning depends on the co-operation and joint efforts
of various sectors to give appropriate support. The Government should take the lead to create an appropriate environment for e-Learning and make it become students’ major mode of learning.
6. The Government should formulate concrete measures to ensure that all students can participate in e-Learning regardless of their socio-economic status, physical or intellectual status.
e-Learning and e-Learning Resources
Focus of discussion:
1. What kinds of learning resources are required to support e-Learning?
2. Are existing e-Learning resources sufficient?
3. Who should be responsible for the quality assurance of e-Learning resources?
5.14 e-Learning generally refers to a learning and teaching strategy that seeks to achieve learning objectives through the use of electronic media. The technological media for e-Learning refer to a range of different things, e.g. computer programmes, online community sharing and collaboration tools, and multi-media e-Learning resources that present basic learning content in an interactive way. The WG realised at its initial stage that the public took e-Learning resources to mean just e-textbooks or digitalised printed matter which could be read with an e-reader. In the light of this, the IT sector has provided many technical solutions for the WG’s consideration. However, the education sector holds a broader view. They deem that a wide variety of interactive e-Learning resources could facilitate learning, although some of them feel that e-Learning resources cannot totally replace conventional textbooks which are convenient and more affordable.
5.15 e-books or e-textbooks are only one type of e-Learning resources. Overseas experiences have told us that digitised texts may have some financial advantages but may not enhance learning effectiveness. More interactive learning materials must be developed. e-Learning resources may take many forms, including electronic materials such as e-texts, pictures, audiotapes, videos and
animation. They may be on-line materials ranging from well-designed and well-supported packages on specific topics to interactive web courses. These digital resources have the following features:
multimedia, highly transmittable, malleable and reusable. The last two features enable teachers to tailor the materials to suit students’ diverse needs, abilities and learning styles.
5.16 During the consultation, many have suggested that the successful implementation of e-Learning hinges on the availability of quality e-Learning resources for teachers’ selection. The questionnaire referred to in paragraph 5.5 has shown that teachers generally agree that e-Learning resources can enrich learning experiences and facilitate the teaching of complicated concepts. They also believe that they can enhance students’ interest in learning and their self-learning ability.
Some stakeholders have mentioned that there is room for development in terms of both the quality and quantity of the e-Learning resources currently available. Despite the huge amount of e-Learning resources available for free on the Internet, their quality varies and many are not designed in accordance with the local curriculum. Teachers, therefore, have to spend much time searching, selecting and organising resources from different sources to design suitable learning activities for the effective implementation of e-Learning. Some teachers have said that what we need at present are some comprehensive e-Learning packages which provide useful learning materials in class, as well as sources of reference for further inquiry outside class.
5.17 The WG believe that the reason why teachers have not fully utilised e-Learning resources is that the existing e-Learning resources cannot fully complement the way the curriculum is organised and implemented in schools. In the light of this, the EDB and the HKEdCity should step up their efforts in re-organising the existing e-Learning resources.
5.18 As for quality assurance, it has been suggested that the Government or some professional bodies should assess the appropriateness and quality of e-Learning resources for teachers’ reference.
It has also been pointed out that in this age of Web 2.0, Internet users should ensure the effective use of online resources through online experience sharing.
5.19 The WG has had much discussion over the issue of quality assurance for e-Learning resources. Members believe that the conventional quality assurance mechanism may not be effective, given the high level of adaptability, flexibility and changeability of these materials.
Teachers or professional education bodies are, therefore, encouraged to take into full account the unique features of e-Learning resources, share expertise and work together to improve the quality of e-Learning resources.
5.20 The WG considers that learning resources should be diversified. At present, teaching is largely based on printed resources supplemented by e-Learning materials. However, the use of e-Learning resources as a medium for learning and teaching both inside and outside class is gaining increasing popularity and has become a global trend. Printed textbooks and e-Learning resources should co-exist and complement each other.
5.21 After considering various comments and factors, the WG has made the following recommendations:
1. Stakeholders should adopt an open attitude towards using learning resources, whether the comparison is between conventional textbooks and e-Learning resources or between different types of e-Learning resources.
2. The choice of learning resources should be geared to providing students with the best mode of learning, and the most effective learning environment.
3. In order to facilitate teachers to select the appropriate e-Learning resources that support curriculum implementation and to provide relevant teaching suggestions, the Government should consider, as a short-term measure, deploying additional resources to strengthen and expedite the development of the Depository of Curriculum-based Learning and Teaching Resources.
4. An on-line teacher community should be set up on the HKEdCity to facilitate the exchange of views regarding the use of e-Learning resources and development of a professional peer review culture with a view to improving the quality of e-Learning resources.
e-Learning Resources Market Development
Focus of discussion:
1. What actions should be taken to promote the development of the market for e-Learning resources?
2. What is the role of the Government in developing the market for e-Learning resources?
5.22 As mentioned, the use of e-Learning resources is gaining popularity and has become a global trend. The pace and direction of further development of e-Learning resources should gear towards providing the best learning mode and environment to students.
5.23 Textbook publishers have mentioned on various occasions that since the implementation of the First Strategy for IT in Education, they have devoted themselves to developing e-resources for teachers’ use. However, the role of e-Learning resources in students’ learning is yet to be defined. A formal framework and a clear direction for development are much desired. Over the years, government and non-governmental organisations have developed many free e-Learning resources.
Publishers hope that duplication of efforts will be avoided and that such free resources will not hinder their business development. Other forms of support, including tools for enhancing teaching process and other classroom learning/teaching practices will take time to develop.
5.24 On the other hand, the IT sector specialises in system platforms and media development. It is believed that they could contribute much to the development of e-Learning resources.
5.25 The WG agrees that the plan for promoting the use of e-Learning resources is to be devised.
This is in line with the goal of the pilot scheme mentioned in paragraph 5.9. The WG hopes that textbook publishers and the IT sector will make full use of their expertise and collaborate closely with schools in developing e-Learning resources that will suit the needs of students in order to establish a sustainable market for e-Learning resources.
5.26 In compiling e-Learning resources in the future, the EDB and the HKEdCity should avoid
duplication of efforts which might hinder the development of e-Learning resources for commercial purposes. The HKEdCity should exercise its role as a market facilitator and establish a one-stop business platform to provide services such as product display, sales, digital rights management and payment gateways for online transactions of e-Learning resources. As a short term measure, the Government may also consider providing schools with subsidies for buying e-Learning resources, which will help advance market development.
5.27 Taking into consideration various factors and the comments from different sectors, the WG has the following recommendations:
1. The Government should make it clear that one of the aims of the pilot scheme is to encourage collaboration between schools and other sectors in developing and promoting the e-Learning resources market.
2. The Government may consider providing grants to schools to encourage them to buy e-Learning resources.
3. The HKEdCity should set up an e-commerce platform for e-Learning resources to assist students and teachers to acquire such resources from various providers, as well as to facilitate the sharing of e-Learning resources designed by teachers.
e-Learning and Students’ Physical, Psychological and Social Health
Focus of discussion:
1. How does the frequent use of computers affect students’ health?
2. How can e-Learning be conducted in a healthy way?
5.28 Apart from promoting e-Learning, the WG and other stakeholders are also concerned about the possible impact of the frequent use of computers on students’ physical and psychological health, particularly their eyesight. Some members are also concerned that long hours of computer use may lead to students’ negative behaviour. They may become more self-centred, neglect interpersonal relationships or have less face-to-face communication with family and friends.
5.29 Regarding the issue of computer use and eyesight, the WG has sought advice from experts.
According to these professionals, no research has yet confirmed that the use of computer will cause or worsen short-sightedness among students or that computers release radiation that adversely affect their health. Nonetheless, students must maintain good reading habits, including a proper posture, to keep their eyes healthy. For example, they should keep a distance of at least 70 cm between their eyes and the computer screen. They should let their eyes rest for 30 seconds or more every thirty minutes. Further, better equipment will help protect their eyes. For instance, their eyes will be less tired when using monitors with high resolution. The brightness of the screen, background and text colour, font size, line and character spacing will all affect their vision. A good reading environment, where light is even and warm and that the computer screen is below eye level, will help protect students’ eyesight. (For details, please refer to Appendix 12)
5.30 The school sector has always been concerned about the negative behaviour and personality changes in students as a result of computer overuse. The Government, schools, teachers and parents should be on high alert and provide appropriate counselling to affected students as early as possible.
When offering e-Learning experiences in schools, teachers should remind students of the principle of “using the right technology at the right time for the right task”. They must be reminded that e-Learning is only part of the process of learning and teaching, and that it is just one of the many ways to learn effectively. To help students achieve balanced development in all generic skills for whole-person development, teachers should provide diversified learning activities, encourage students to get to know what is happening around them, and strengthen their interpersonal communication skills. Parents should advise their children on how to use the computer properly at home. To support parents and to provide relevant information and services to the general public, the Government has commissioned voluntary organisations to conduct Internet education activities for the period of one year.
5.31 Taking into consideration various factors and the comments from different sectors, the WG has the following recommendations:
1. The Government should provide information on the impact of physical, psychological and social health brought by the use of computers to students and parents.
2. While encouraging more extensive use of e-Learning resources, schools and parents should also pay attention to students’ physical, psychological and social health.
Copyright Issues of e-Learning Resources
Focus of discussion:
1. How can we protect intellectual property in the digital environment?
2. How can we strike a balance between sharing e-Learning resources and protecting intellectual property?
5.32 Teachers have expressed their concern over issues regarding the copyright of online resources at various discussions on e-Learning. As the source of a large amount of online resources is unknown, teachers have not been able to obtain permission to use the materials. This restricts them from sharing the resources with others.
5.33 e-Learning resources can be disseminated more readily than printed materials. Publishers are gravely concerned about the illegal use of e-resources and the losses that result. They therefore support the development of a Digital Rights Management (DRM) platform which will help protect the copyright of their products.
5.34 The WG has made reference to the “FAQ on Copyright (Amendment) Ordinance 2007” on the Intellectual Property Department’s webpage regarding the new clause on “fair dealing”
exemption under Section 41A of the Ordinance. The objective of the clause is to allow teachers and students to use or deal with reasonable portions of copyright works in a fair manner for teaching and learning in a specific course of study. The clause is applicable to both printed materials and materials stored in electronic formats.
5.35 At the WG’s discussions on the copyright issues of e-Learning resources, it has been