CHAPTER 1 PREFACE ... 5
TERMS OF REFERENCE...7
CHAPTER 2 e-LEARNING ... 9
VISION OF e-LEARNING...9
DEFINITION OF e-LEARNING...12
FEATURES AND ADVANTAGES OF e-LEARNING...14
IT IN EDUCATION STRATEGIES...16
PRESENT IMPLEMENTATION OF e-LEARNING...18
CHAPTER 3 CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT AND TEXTBOOK COMPILATION: THE CURRENT SITUATION ... 22
NEW SENIOR SECONDARY ACADEMIC STRUCTURE...23
ROLE OF TEXTBOOKS IN THE CONTEXT OF CURRICULUM REFORM...24
TEXTBOOK REVIEW MECHANISM OF THE EDB ...26
TEXTBOOK REVISION UNDER EXISTING REVIEW MECHANISM...27
MEASURES TO REDUCE TEXTBOOK PRICES AND ALLEVIATE PARENTS’FINANCIAL BURDEN...29
CHAPTER 4 WORK REPORT ... 35
COLLECTION OF PARENTS’VIEWS ON THE WEB...37
CONSULTATION WITH PROFESSIONAL BODIES AND COMMUNITY GROUPS...37
CHAPTER 5 DISCUSSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS ... 39
e-LEARNING AND E-LEARNING RESOURCES...44
e-LEARNING RESOURCES MARKET DEVELOPMENT...47
e-LEARNING AND STUDENTS’PHYSICAL,PSYCHOLOGICAL AND SOCIAL HEALTH...48
COPYRIGHT ISSUES OF e-LEARNING RESOURCES...50
SELECTION OF TEXTBOOKS IN SCHOOLS...56
TEXTBOOK RECYCLING PROGRAMME...65
CHAPTER 6 ACTION PLAN... 68
(A) OBJECTIVES...68 (B) DEVELOPMENT OF TEXTBOOKS AND e-LEARNING RESOURCES TO IMPROVE THE EXISTING
MECHANISM AND ENHANCE LEARNING AND TEACHING...68
(C) OTHER SUPPORT MEASURES...71
CHAPTER 7 CONCLUSION... 73
THE WAY FORWARD...73
APPENDIX 1 MEMBERSHIP LIST OF WORKING GROUP ON TEXTBOOKS AND e-LEARNING RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT...77
APPENDIX 2 USING DEPOSITORY OF CURRICULUM-BASED LEARNING AND TEACHING RESOURCES TO DESIGN e-LEARNING PROCESS FOR STUDENTS...79
APPENDIX 3 OVERSEAS EXPERIENCE –DEVELOPMENT OF e-LEARNING AND e-LEARNING RESOURCES...85
APPENDIX 4 TEXTBOOK DEVELOPMENT IN HONG KONG...98
APPENDIX 5 IMPLEMENTATION OF VARIOUS SUBJECT CURRICULA UNDER THE CURRICULUM REFORM FRAMEWORK...99
APPENDIX 6 SUMMARY OF OPINIONS FROM STUDENT FORUM...103
APPENDIX 7 SUMMARY OF OPINIONS FROM OPEN SEMINAR...106
APPENDIX 8 SCHOOL QUESTIONNAIRE BY THE WORKING GROUP ON TEXTBOOKS AND e-LEARNING RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT... 113
APPENDIX 9 THE WORKING GROUP ON TEXTBOOKS AND e-LEARNING RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT -COLLECTION OF PARENT’S VIEWS ON THE WEB...134
APPENDIX 10 SUMMARY OF WRITTEN COMMENTS OF PROFESSIONAL BODIES AND COMMUNITY GROUPS SUBMITTED TO LEGCO PANEL ON EDUCATION...141
APPENDIX 11 OVERSEAS EXPERIENCES -SUPPLY AND CONTROL OF SCHOOL TEXTBOOKS...144
APPENDIX 12 EXPERTS’VIEWS ON IMPACT OF THE USE OF e-LEARNING RESOURCES ON STUDENTS’EYE HEALTH...148
Chapter 1 Preface
1.1 Information and communication technology has developed rapidly over the past twenty years. Its wide application makes a huge impact on the society and our daily life. In particular, information technology (IT) breaks the traditional boundaries of learning and teaching, and brings enormous changes to the education sector. The Government has been promoting the use of IT in education vigorously in the past decade. One of its goals is to turn e-Learning into an effective learning mode. Through the extensive use of e-Learning resources, it aims to enhance students’
learning effectiveness, develop their higher-order thinking and information management abilities (which include proficiency in searching, organising, evaluating and presenting information), as well as nurturing their capabilities for life-long learning, which would give them a competitive edge in our rapidly changing world. It has become a global trend to use e-Learning resources as a medium for learning and teaching both inside and outside the classroom. Although e-Learning resources will not completely replace printed textbooks, their use is bound to increase in the foreseeable future.
1.2 Nonetheless, in spite of the increasing popularity of e-Learning, textbooks will remain an important medium for student learning and classroom teaching. A research study (titled “A Comprehensive Strategy for Textbooks and Learning Materials”1) conducted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2005 confirms that textbooks and learning materials play a key role in the learning process. Although they may vary in design, content and application, their capability of providing students with useful reference materials and of functioning as an essential tool for interactive and effective learning is universally recognised.
Quality textbooks and learning materials are indispensable to quality education.
1 Website: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0014/001437/143736eb.pdf
1.3 The Government has never taken up the role of publishing textbooks. Students’ textbooks are freely published by publishers and are priced with reference to market factors and development costs. The role of the Education Bureau (EDB) in textbook supply is mainly to monitor the quality of textbook content. In line with the principle of school-based management, teachers are entrusted with the task of exercising their professional judgement to select the textbooks and learning materials they deem most suitable for their students.
1.4 Students are required to buy textbooks set down in the school textbook list every year. They impose a great financial burden on parents, and their prices have become a public concern. Price surveys have been conducted annually by many organisations for monitoring purposes.
1.5 Since its establishment in 1974, the Consumer Council has been conducting yearly surveys on the changes in textbook prices, the financial burden which textbooks have placed on parents, as well as other issues such as textbook revision. The findings are published in its monthly magazine, Choice. The Consumer Council has found that the prices of most primary and secondary textbooks are on the rise every year.
1.6 Although textbook production is a commercial activity in Hong Kong, the EDB has always been concerned about textbook prices and has actively communicated with the Consumer Council, textbook publisher associations, school councils and the Independent Commission Against Corruption to find feasible ways to regulate textbook prices. The EDB has adopted a series of measures to lower the costs in order to ease the financial burden of parents without interfering with the market. However, despite the reduction in production costs as a result of the economic downturn in recent years, textbook prices have continued to rise, which in turn adds to parents’ financial burden. This has led to much public debate and many believe that the Government should introduce more vigorous measures to resolve the problem.
1.7 In response to public opinions on textbook prices and e-Learning, the Chief Executive announced in the 2008-09 Policy Address, “To enhance students’ ability for self-learning and
interactive learning, and to promote the use of e-books rather than printed copies, we will look into the development of electronic learning resources. The use and prices of school textbooks have become a public concern. Some people have pointed out that the frequently-revised textbooks have imposed a financial burden on parents in recent years. We will invite information technology experts, parents, school principals, teachers, publishers and others to form a task force to study these issues in detail. We will draw on international experience in formulating long-term measures to alleviate the financial burden on parents and to facilitate learning.” For this reason, the Government set up the Working Group on Textbooks and e-Learning Resources Development (WG) in October 2008 to examine the development of textbooks and e-Learning resources, as well as to make recommendations to the Secretary for Education (SED) to facilitate the formulation of relevant strategies, measures and implementation plans. Please see Appendix 1 for the WG membership list.
1.8 Throughout the investigation and discussion on the development of textbooks and e-Learning resources, the WG has strived to uphold the principle of enhancing the quality of learning and teaching. On this basis, it has considered feasible ways to lower textbook prices, improve the existing school textbook system, and provide suitable e-Learning resources for schools to enhance students’ learning effectiveness.
Terms of Reference
1.9 The terms of reference of the WG are to advise the SED on the future development of textbooks and e-Learning resources, including:
(i) the introduction of e-textbooks and other alternatives; and
(ii) examining the role of textbooks in supporting student learning and other related practices such as textbook provision, quality assurance and textbook prices in the context of the Curriculum Reform.
1.10 The WG has examined the development of textbooks and e-Learning resources to formulate future development plans and strategies through the following ways:
(i) WG regular meetings;
(ii) focus discussions;
(iii) open seminars;
(iv) student forums;
(v) school questionnaire;
(vi) collection of parents’ views on the web;
(vii) study of overseas experience and measures;
(viii) school visits;
(ix) consultation with professional bodies and community groups, including the Curriculum Development Council (CDC), LegCo Panel on Education, school councils, Consumer Council and university academics.
Chapter 2 e-Learning
2.1 It has been more than a decade since the former Education and Manpower Bureau introduced the First Strategy on IT in Education in 1998. The Third Strategy launched in 20082 symbolised the further integration of information and communication technology into learning and teaching, and the implementation of e-Learning. This chapter will study the current implementation of e-Learning in schools and to depict the vision of e-Learning for the future.
Vision of e-Learning
2.2 The 21st century is an age of information explosion. This IT-led era connects the world through the Internet. The wide application of IT has brought much impact on our society, culture and daily life. It also has an important role in education, changing school education from a largely textbook-based and teacher-centred approach to a more interactive and learner-centred approach.
Learners are given more information and are able to observe and explore the world outside school, thus globalised their learning.
2.3 In face of the rapid development and wide application of information and communication technology, governments around the world have invested resources into IT in education and have seen some fruits. Hong Kong has shared the same story. Since 1998, the Government has been determined to promote IT in education. Three strategies on IT in education have been launched and a huge amount of resources have been allocated to make Hong Kong “a leader and not a follower in the information world of tomorrow”. The overall goal of all these strategies is to see a “paradigm shift” in school education from a textbook-based and teacher-centred mode to a more interactive
and learner-centred mode.
2.4 The Education Reform in recent years aims to help students achieve whole-person development and acquire an attitude for life-long learning, preparing talents for our society and country, and raising the competitiveness of Hong Kong as an international city. In a knowledge-based society, students need to learn how to learn and acquire generic skills such as communication, creativity and critical thinking. Learning and teaching strategies, if used appropriately with well-defined learning objectives and styles, will give the best results.
Professional teachers should know their students and have a wide repertoire of pedagogical strategies. They should be able to adjust their teaching to cater for the needs, abilities and response of students, so as to get students engaged in their learning, think proactively and seek the joy of learning. In line with this development and the paradigm shift of learning and teaching, e-Learning is to use the electronic media to promote various learning and teaching strategies for helping students achieve learning targets. In today’s information-rich world, e-Learning not only could promote self-directed learning, cope with students’ diversified learning abilities and styles, but also serve as an effective means for students to pursue life-long learning.
2.5 To effectively implement IT in education, many schools are willing to let their students experience different forms of e-Learning like online exercises, e-books, blog writing. But what is e-Learning? We will describe the “paradigm shift” in school education below.
Vision 1: Student-centred and Self-directed Learning
Students will lead the learning process, identify problems, explore the issues and find answers through various electronic media, realising self-directed learning.
Vision 2: Teacher as a Learning Facilitator
Teachers will select appropriate e-Learning resources according to the needs and abilities of students. They will guide students to go through e-Learning in an organised way and to process information to solve problems, helping students to acquire the ability to learn by themselves.
Vision 3: Students as a Life-long Learner with Global Sense
Students will come into contact with information around the world through the Internet and
will find the resources beyond books. They will learn the skills for higher-order thinking and engage in life-long learning.
Vision 4: Students Construct Knowledge through Enquiry and Collaboration
Students will make good use of different online tools for enquiry learning and constructing knowledge with others. They will learn to collaborate with others and share information.
This will enhance their communication and collaboration skills.
Vision 5: Students are Information-literate
Students will be able to use different e-Learning resources and to process information comprehensively (searching, evaluating, organising and presenting). They will also know how to select correct information and develop the right attitude for using IT.
Vision 6: Students Demonstrating their Creativity
Students will learn to use different e-tools and their creativity to connect old and new knowledge and show their learning results in varied ways.
Vision 7: Learning Joyfully
With its multimedia, interactive and innovative features, e-Learning will enhance the students’ interest of learning and provide an enjoyable learning environment for achieving different learning objectives.
Definition of e-Learning
2.6 The goal of implementing IT in education is to enhance the effectiveness of learning through electronic technology. Effective learning should not be bounded by classrooms. With the aid of technology, e-Learning reaches beyond spatial limit and makes learning more flexible. This combination of technology and learning will enhance the effectiveness of learning, which will benefit students all their life. Technology, learning and daily lives will eventually become one. This
is the focus of life-long learning and whole-person development.
2.7 Someone has given e-Learning an interesting explanation. The small letter “e” means various electronic tools. “Learning”, capitalised, is the focus of e-Learning. To put it simply, with the aid of various media of electronic technology such as computer, networks and multimedia, students are placed at the centre of learning. Different learning strategies are deployed to achieve learning objectives. This is the essence of e-Learning: using technology to deliver learning content more effectively. In this way, the letter “e” in e-Learning is more than electronic. It also means efficient, effective and enjoyable.
2.8 On the other hand, e-tools, e-Learning resources, e-Learning programmes are the major elements of e-Learning.
e-tools such as interactive learning platforms, blogs and wiki platforms will enhance the communication between students and teachers as well as among students. They will also help students build a learning community where they can use their creativity to bring learning from classroom into their lives.
e-Learning resources such as e-texts, web pages and multimedia software will enable teachers to tie in different learning strategies and present the abstract concepts in a concrete way. This will enhance students’ interest and they can learn and explore on their own in a flexible way.
e-Learning programmes with a focus on customisation and personal experience, will allow
students to take initiative to use different e-Learning resources and engage themselves in online learning. They can understand information with varied learning experiences without being limited by time and space.
All these have shown that e-Learning is made up of many parts. There is no single definition.
Effective e-Learning relies on clear goal-setting and appropriate methods adopted to cater for different conditions. e-Learning should not be implemented in one single mode but encouraged to develop in diverse ways.
Features and Advantages of e-Learning
2.9 e-Learning is a global trend. It is actively promoted throughout the world, not only because times have changed, but more importantly, because e-Learning has its merits which are conducive to student learning and enhancing learning effectiveness.
2.10 e-Learning connects learners with the world. With the necessary resources, one can obtain information around the world. Its flexibility allows users to learn anytime and anywhere. Also, it is collaborative, enabling students to learn with others outside classroom.
2.11 e-Learning is interactive. Its features like multimedia functions, sound effects, animations, and graphics will engage and motivate students. Interactive e-Learning resources will help students understand abstract concepts more readily.
2.12 e-Learning is extendable, enabling students to learn outside classroom according to their ability, progress and interest.
2.13 e-Learning can simulate the reality. Sound effect and realization of processes can be presented to the students. Through simulation, they can experience and learn things more readily even for these things that they might have difficulty to reach or encounter.
2.14 These features and advantages make e-Learning more effective, efficient and enjoyable as well as catering learners with different needs and style. However, we are not invalidating the value of other tools such as paper, pen, blackboard and realia. Notwithstanding its abovementioned merits, e-Learning will not replace the traditional mode of learning. Both are complementing each other.
The key of success is on how to make use of the advantages of the electronic media to benefit the design and planning of learning for using the right technology, at the right time and for the right task.
IT in Education Strategies
2.15 In November 1998, the former Education and Manpower Bureau released a policy paper titled Information Technology for Learning in a New Era Five-Year Strategy3 to launch IT in education in Hong Kong. It stated our goal to use IT in education, turning schools into an energetic and creative environment for learning and enabling students to explore online knowledge and the
information-rich world. We also want our students to acquire the skills to process information efficiently as well as the attitude and ability for life-long learning. To enable teachers to face these challenges, four key components were presented: access and connectivity, teacher enablement, curriculum and resource support, and community-wide culture, with a view to enhancing a
“paradigm shift” in school education from a textbook-based and teacher-centred mode to a more interactive and learner-centred mode, a mode that meets the needs and deals with the changes in this new era.
2.16 With the fruit of the First Strategy, the Government introduced the Second Strategy4 in 2004.
It aimed at facilitating the learning and teaching of students and teachers, school leadership and the development of digital learning resources through the application of IT. With respect to the development of digital learning resources, the Electronic Learning Credits (ELC) was given to encourage the purchase of these digital learning resources. Various stakeholders like the schools and the IT sector were encouraged to invest and take part in the development of quality teaching and learning software. The Hong Kong Education City (HKEdCity) was entrusted the work of searching and promoting digital learning resources and to play the role of a market facilitator.
2.17 By the close of 2008, the Government launched the Third Strategy adopting the theme of
“Right Technology at the Right Time for the Right Task”. Human factors, not technology factors, were highlighted as the key to integrate IT into learning and teaching, as well as to improve the information literacy of students and parents. One of the tasks was to develop the “Depository of Curriculum-based Learning and Teaching Resources”5, which aims to share practical experiences of using IT in teaching and recommend digital resources suitable for the local curricula. This would reduce teachers’ workload in integrating IT in teaching. During the first phase, resources for Chinese Language, English Language, Mathematics and General Studies at primary level would be developed. The second phase would be launched in the 2010/11 school year, covering a few Key Learning Areas at junior secondary level.
Present Implementation of e-Learning
2.18 With the implementation of these three IT strategies, e-Learning has become more popular.
Development of e-Learning tools such as online learning platforms and teaching software have been activated and flourished. Both teachers and students get used to using IT inside and outside class.
Corresponding to this, the mode of learning and teaching has also undergone changes.
2.19 Since the First Strategy, the former Education and Manpower Bureau has strived to help schools implement IT in education in such areas as infrastructure, teacher training, curriculum and resources and learning culture. After a decade, e-Learning has been gradually integrated into learning and teaching.
2.20 At present, majority of classrooms in a school are equipped with one set of computer connected to the Internet and a projector. This allows teachers to use multimedia resources such as powerpoint presentations, pictures, videos, audiotapes and animations. This has also brought rich online resources into the classroom.
2.21 One point worth noting is that the focus of each school in their use of IT in education varies.
Schools also have different priorities and adopt varied modes. Some stress teachers’ professional development and the building of learning culture, while others favour the development of infrastructure and want to achieve “one-person-one-computer” both inside school and at home.
Schools in Hong Kong have made good preparation for the implementation of e-Learning.
2.22 Textbooks and other e-Learning resources have been the major teaching and learning materials for teachers and students. Recently, on top of printed textbooks, publishers have provided electronic resources. The contents of textbooks are presented not only in printed format, but also in multimedia format. Students can read printed textbooks and have diversified learning activities with e-textbooks. The electronic resources provided by publishers are usually geared towards teachers, helping them to enhance teaching effectiveness. Powerpoint presentations, videos and animations
limited. It is true that e-Learning resources can reduce the extent of the use of printed textbooks.
However, textbooks still have their explicit values and will not be replaced by e-Learning resources in the years to come.
2.23 Apart from classroom learning, teachers also attach great importance to self-learning and extended learning activities. To enhance learning effectiveness, schools use e-Learning platforms to store various learning resources including powerpoint presentations, online exercises, interactive games, workbooks and homework so that students can use them after school. Some parents would also buy online learning exercises or learning software that are suitable for their children to enhance their learning.
2.24 e-Learning resources are essential to e-Learning. Good resources support will ensure its effective implementation. Thus, the HKEdCity was set up under the Government’s First Strategy on IT in education to provide support to teachers in the use of IT in teaching. A resources depository has been set up to collect and share the teaching materials developed by teachers and the EDB, resources designed by tertiary institutions and information provided by non-profit-making organisations. Plentiful materials in the resources depository are available for teachers to choose for attaining their teaching goals. They can organise and integrate these resources for use in class at their discretion. Undoubtedly, this will help the use of IT in teaching, though a bit time-consuming.
2.25 The Third Strategy stresses the human factor. Its goal is to integrate IT into learning and teaching effectively. In this respect, using quality resources is the key. At present, when implementing e-Learning, teachers need to spend hours to search for resources in the Internet which has increased their workload. To cope with this, the EDB has developed a Depository of Curriculum-based Learning and Teaching Resources which collects free resources, both online and printed, provided by local and overseas government organisations, tertiary institutions, schools and non-profit-making organisations. The contents are selected and organised based on the local curriculum framework. With teaching suggestions and instructions added, the resources are
arranged as thematic units. In each unit, there are videos to explain concepts which can be used in class or for self-learning, interactive simulated scenarios for learning or extension activities, and online exercises with instant feedback as assessment tools or revision exercises. When designing their learning and teaching activities, teachers will only need to download relevant units and adjust them to the abilities and learning progress of their students. An effective e-Learning process can be easily designed. The contents can also be used on an e-Learning platform to enhance learning and teaching effectiveness. For its application, please refer to Appendix 2.
2.26 With reference to overseas experiences, governments around the world have introduced e-Learning to schools as information and communication technology developed and became popular in the 1990s. They have produced different e-teaching objects to enrich their learning and teaching process, and to reduce the extent of their reliance on textbooks. They have also developed digitalised textbooks to cut down government expenses on providing textbooks for students in public sector schools. Different countries may have different reasons and different progress for the development of e-Learning. Yet, they all conclude that multimedia materials such as animations and virtual reality could better help students master knowledge and abstract concepts. Interactive learning tools such as blogs and wiki platforms can allow students to collaborate with others in learning anytime they want. Teachers have also become a facilitator for learning as they can provide timely feedback which will benefit both teaching and learning. e-Learning has been taken as contributing to the “paradigm shift” in school education. This is why governments around the world, in their course of implementing e-Learning, have stressed the professional development of teachers and school leaders, and have encouraged teachers to share their practical experiences. This will help build a quality resources depository which promotes e-Learning and allows teachers to enjoy flexibility when using existing resources. Please refer to Appendix 3 for further details.
2.27 One of the objectives of promoting IT in education is to improve the quality of learning
through electronic technology which is in line with the vision of the Education Reform implemented over the years. e-Learning will make learning more efficient, effective and interesting, and help students develop the habit of life-long learning, which in turn facilitates whole-person development. At present, the extent to which various schools have developed e-Learning is different.
Further deepening of e-Learning is, therefore, the issue that we should work on. The WG hopes to find out how to implement e-Learning more effectively through reviewing different aspects of e-Learning resources.
Curriculum Development and Textbook Compilation:
The Current Situation
3.1 Textbooks have a close relationship with the curriculum. Apart from being a learning tool, they are also an important learning medium to realise curriculum goals. In exploring the way forward for textbook development, it is therefore essential to have a good understanding of both the current practices in textbook compilation as well as the role of textbooks in the context of the Curriculum Reform. (Appendix 4 – Textbook Development)
3.2 In the face of the drastic changes in society, rapid technological development and the ever expanding realms of knowledge, the content and modes of learning for students must keep abreast of the times to meet societal needs. The Curriculum Development Council (CDC) conducted a holistic review of the school curriculum during 1999 and 2000 in order to offer a school curriculum that could empower students with the capabilities to meet the challenges of a knowledge-based, technologically advanced, and fast-changing society as well as a highly competitive globalised economy. Based on the public’s responses collected during consultation and the Education Commission’s visions and proposals as elucidated in Learning for Life, Learning through Life:
Reform Proposals for the Education System in Hong Kong in September 2000, the CDC published the report on Learning to Learn – The Way Forward in Curriculum Development in June 2001 and subsequently the Basic Education Curriculum Guide – Building on Strengths in 2002. These documents clearly set out the directions and focuses for future curriculum development in Hong Kong to enhance students’ independent learning capabilities so as to achieve the key goals of
whole-person development and life-long learning.
3.3 The 2001 report provides an open and flexible curriculum framework that seeks to help students learn how to learn as well as provide five Essential Learning Experiences for primary and secondary school students. These include moral and civic education, intellectual development, community service, physical and aesthetic development, and career-related experiences. All subjects are categorised under eight Key Learning Areas (KLAs), i.e. Chinese Language Education, English Language Education, Mathematics Education, Personal, Social and Humanities Education, Science Education, Technology Education, Arts Education and Physical Education. It is also recommended in the report that the four Key Tasks of Moral and Civic Education, Reading to Learn, Project Learning, and Information Technology for Interactive Learning be implemented within and across KLAs to help students develop independent learning skills. At the same time, the CDC undertook to develop curriculum guides for each KLA, presenting clearly its curriculum framework and aims, along with its learning targets and focuses.
New Senior Secondary Academic Structure
3.4 Built on the Basic Education Reform and the solid groundwork of effective communications and robust consultations, the New Academic Structure for senior secondary education and higher education, including the New Senior Secondary (NSS) Curriculum, was implemented in September 2009. Under the new system, there will be three years of junior secondary and three years of senior secondary education, followed by four years of university education. With its implementation, all secondary schools in Hong Kong will provide a broad and balanced NSS curriculum to help students build a solid and broad knowledge base, and to facilitate whole-person development and life-long learning. The NSS curriculum framework has three parts:
(i) Core Subjects: All students are required to study the four Core Subjects of Chinese Language, English Language, Mathematics and Liberal Studies.
(ii) Elective Subjects: Students are required to take two to three electives from a total of 20
Elective Subjects and a range of Applied Learning courses.
(iii) Other Learning Experiences: To enhance whole-person development, students are expected to gain Other Learning Experiences during or outside class (which accounts for about 15% of the total curriculum time or more) in areas such as Moral and Civic education, Community Service, Career-related Experiences, Aesthetic Development, and Physical Development.
3.5 Under the New Academic Structure, diversified modes of assessment and reporting including school-based assessment, standards-referenced reporting and Student Learning Profile are adopted. These will promote changes in our assessment culture. Because of the close relationship between curriculum and assessment, the CDC and Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority (HKEAA) have jointly developed a curriculum and assessment guide for each NSS subject. After its implementation, the CDC and the HKEAA will regularly review the NSS curriculum for each subject, taking into account the way it is implemented in schools, students’
performance in the public examinations and society’s changing needs.
Role of Textbooks in the Context of Curriculum Reform
3.6 Textbooks are compiled to help student learn. They should cover the core components and the essential learning elements set out in the curriculum and assessment guide that the CDC has prepared for each subject. The learning materials and activities provided in the textbooks should help students acquire the learning experiences and generic skills advocated in the Curriculum Reform. However, textbooks are no replacement for teachers. Teachers can use textbooks as a tool for developing their own learning and teaching activities. For example, they can exercise their professional judgement to select suitable materials, exercises and tasks from textbooks and complement them with other learning resources (e.g. the media, the natural environment, people,
the Internet and the community). Further, they can develop their own learning and teaching materials that could best cater for their students’ needs instead of relying solely on textbooks.
Likewise, students should refrain from learning the textbook materials covered in class by rote.
Rather, they should integrate them with the ideas from other learning resources to construct their own knowledge, and be prepared to explore topics beyond the textbook content to widen their exposure.
3.7 It is stated in Book 7 of the Curriculum Reform document Basic Education Curriculum Guide – Building on Strengths as well as the Senior Secondary Curriculum Guide - The Future is Now: from Vision to Realisation that teachers should use their professional knowledge to choose and make good use of textbooks, to adapt the content according to the needs and levels of the students, to decide whether they need to cover everything in the textbook, and to use other teaching resources to support their teaching.
3.8 The textbooks used in Hong Kong are mainly compiled according to the syllabuses/curriculum guides developed by the CDC, the Guiding Principles for Quality Textbooks6, as well as the subject-specific textbook guidelines developed by the EDB. Textbooks play an essential role in contributing to the smooth implementation of the curriculum and education reform in Hong Kong.
3.9 The content of textbooks should be closely in line with the curriculum guide or syllabus for each subject. For this reason, the CDC adopts a multi-stage consultation process in developing a new curriculum and publishes relevant information on the Internet. It also invites textbook editors to attend consultation sessions on curriculum development for effective dissemination of information. At the same time, the EDB organises curriculum briefings and Q&A sessions for publishers to keep them informed of the latest developments so that they can make adequate
6 website: http://www.edb.gov.hk/index.aspx?nodeID=2837&langno=2.
preparation for textbook compilation. After a curriculum guide is finalised, textbook publishers usually have 12 to 14 months to compile textbooks.
Textbook Review Mechanism of the EDB
3.10 To ensure that quality textbooks are available for schools, the EDB has set up a stringent textbook review mechanism. Textbooks submitted by publishers to the EDB for review must have good quality before they could be included in the EDB’s Recommended Textbook List. There are, however, some subjects for which the EDB does not require textbooks to be submitted for review, i.e. Visual Arts, Integrated Humanities, Literature in English, Liberal Studies, Technology and Living, Health Management and Social Care, and Music (Secondary 4 to 6). For these subjects, the EDB does not recommend the use of textbooks because they are better learnt through primary source materials, or because the content they cover is far too extensive or because there is the frequent need for updates in content in order to keep pace with the rapid developments in the field.
Save for these exceptions, all primary and secondary school textbooks for all other subjects will have to be submitted for review if the publishers wish to include them in the Recommended Textbook List. For each subject that accepts textbooks for review, the EDB has set up a textbook review panel consisting of in-service teachers, panel chairs and other education professionals. The review panel will analyse the comments and grades given by each reviewer in detail before deciding whether the submitted textbooks are “to be included in the Recommended Textbook List” or “not to be included in the Recommended Textbook List”.
3.11 In summary, textbooks will be included in the EDB’s Recommended Textbook List only if they have reached an acceptable standard in meeting the following core criteria:
(i) Compatibility with the aims / learning targets / objectives / guiding principles laid down in the curriculum guide / syllabus;
(ii) Coverage of the core learning elements as specified in the curriculum guide /
(iii) Accuracy, clarity and relevance of information and data / concepts;
(iv) Appropriate and logical organisation of content / sequencing of concepts;
(v) Inclusion of learning activities essential to achieving the learning targets; and
(vi) Language accuracy.
3.12 Under the existing review mechanism, the EDB will review printed textbooks only.
e-Learning resources, including e-textbooks, will not be accepted for review because the flexible and changeable nature of these resources, together with their extensive content, makes it difficult for effective review to be carried out under the present system.
Textbook Revision under Existing Review Mechanism
3.13 Reprint with minor amendments is to revise a minor part of the content of the textbook (e.g. outdated information) and reprint it, while revision is to make major amendments to the textbook. Under the existing review mechanism, publishers can apply for revision of any textbooks in the Recommended Textbook List as either reprint with minor amendments or revision with the EDB.
3.14 “Reprint with minor amendments” is different from “revision”. Textbooks seeking “reprint with minor amendments” must go through the EDB’s review before they can be reprinted. No changes should be made to the outward form of the reprinted textbooks (including the cover, title, size and number of pages). The publishers should provide schools, which have adopted their textbooks, with information regarding the amendments for free so that even students who rely on used books are aware of the changes. Besides, schools should state in the textbook lists that the old edition of a textbook can still be used for students’ reference.
3.15 Under the existing review mechanism, the EDB only accepts applications for revision of textbooks which have been included in the Recommended Textbook List for more than three years (except for the subjects of Social Studies, Economic and Public Affairs, and Government and Public
Affairs). Further, applications will only be approved if there are sufficient justifications for textbook revision and if significant improvements have been made in the proposed revised content, e.g. the revised content will enhance the development of generic skills and thinking abilities, the overall learning of students, or enable students to have a more in-depth understanding of the subject.
3.16 To provide students with quality education, to enhance their learning ability, and to develop their skills of learning to learn so that they can effectively meet the challenges of our knowledge-based and highly competitive society, the EDB should keep abreast of the times and, when appropriate, reform or renew the curriculum. In the light of the Curriculum Reform, the new primary and secondary curricula developed were gradually implemented in schools between 2000 and 2006. (Please refer to Appendix 5 - Implementation of Various Subject Curricula under the Curriculum Reform Framework)
3.17 The curricula were implemented progressively by subject and on a level-by-level basis.
Accordingly, the textbooks catering for the new curricula of different subjects were also progressively adopted by students on a level-by-level basis. Unfortunately, this is often misinterpreted by parents and the public as the curriculum being revised every year and as the lack of monitoring by the EDB so that publishers can revise textbooks every year.
3.18 Whether it is a new textbook for a new curriculum, or a “reprinted (one) with minor amendments”, or a “revision”, the public regards these attempts unanimously as “textbook revision”.
In general, the public seems to have formed the impression that textbooks are being revised frequently or even “every year”. Nonetheless, action has been taken all along to prevent publishers from revising textbook content too frequently and making unnecessary revisions which will affect students who rely on used books and increase the financial burden of parents. As early as 1980, the former Education Department laid down the rule that “textbooks once included in the Recommended Textbook List shall not be revised within three years”, which all textbook publishers should adhere to. With the EDB strictly enforcing the rule, textbook publishers monitoring each
and external monitoring measures for the textbook market are firmly in place. The Consumer Council has found that the revised textbooks they inspected every year have all complied with the
“three-year rule of no revision”. Its reports stated that most revisions in recent years were either
“needed” or “rather needed”. The EDB has not received any reports from schools or textbook publishers on any textbooks not complying with the “three-year rule of no revision”.
3.19 The following table lists the revision applications for primary and secondary school textbooks in the 2005/06 to 2008/09 school years which adhered to the “three-year rule of no revision”. From the table, it can be clearly seen that the number of applications for revision approved by the EDB in recent years has substantially decreased.
Number of textbook revisions applied Number of textbook revisions approved School
Number of primary and secondary school textbooks in the
Recommended Textbook List
schools Total Primary schools
Secondary schools Total
05-06 516 sets 6 sets 23 sets 29 sets 6 sets 19 sets 25 sets
06-07 525 sets 1 set 20 sets 21 sets 1 set 14 sets 15 sets
07-08 514 sets 11 sets 9 sets 20 sets 9 sets 5 sets 14 sets
08-09 (until July 2009)
443 sets (not including NSS
2 sets 7 sets 9 sets 0 set 5 sets 5 sets
Measures to Reduce Textbook Prices and Alleviate Parents’ Financial Burden
3.20 Following the principle of non-interference with the free market economy, the EDB has implemented various measures to reduce textbook costs and alleviate parents’ financial burden.
These measures include:
(i) continuously appealing to textbook publishers to share the hard times with the public by not substantially increasing textbook prices, and urging them to uphold their
integrity and adhere to their proper code of business practice by not providing schools with any form of advantages, donations (including equipment, teaching aids, computer software and free on-site services), free gifts or luxurious hospitality during textbook promotion, so as to avoid transferring the related costs to the public when pricing textbooks;
(ii) issuing the Guidelines for Printing of Textbooks7 to publishers for reference, and requesting them to adopt the “functional and cost-effective approach” by making use of appropriate printing methods, as well as paper and design with low-cost features to reduce production costs; and
(iii) issuing to schools a Circular Memorandum on Notes on Selection of Textbooks and Learning Materials for Use in Schools [note: the number of the 2009 Circular Memorandum is: EDBCM052/2009 ] and organising an annual seminar for teachers, providing guidelines and recommendations to schools on how to select suitable textbooks and help students reduce textbook expenses. Some of the recommendations are:
Schools should select textbooks and learning materials that meet the learning needs and abilities of the students, and should avoid increasing parents’ financial burden.
Schools should set up subject/KLA textbook selection panels to choose appropriate textbooks for students. Each panel should consist of all teachers of the subject/KLA.
Schools should not accept any advantages or donations from textbook publishers to prevent publishers from transferring the cost to the public when pricing textbooks.
Schools should take into consideration the price of textbook and its design (i.e.
whether the price is low or the design is simple), in addition to content quality, when selecting textbooks.
Teachers should be encouraged to exercise their professional knowledge and
pedagogical innovativeness to design suitable learning materials, and supplement these materials with the EDB’s free online teaching resources as well as authentic materials related to our everyday life so as to enhance teaching effectiveness and reduce reliance on textbooks.
Schools should state clearly the edition of the textbooks in their textbook lists to help parents decide whether they will buy new or used textbooks. If “reprinted textbooks with minor amendments” are adopted, schools should state clearly, in the textbook lists and against the textbook title, that the “old edition can still be used”.
They should also distribute the corrigenda provided by publishers to students who rely on used textbooks.
Schools should consider placing some copies of reference materials, such as dictionaries and maps, in the classroom for students’ use. It should be stated in the textbook lists that if students already have similar reference materials, they can decide whether or not to buy those in the textbook list.
Schools may arrange to buy in bulk story books or other learning materials which can be used by students on a rotational basis, and share the cost among students.
Alternatively, schools may use the Extensive Reading Grant to buy story books for students.
Schools are encouraged to organise donation activities of used books. This will not only raise students’ environmental awareness, but also help alleviate parents’
(iv) Continuing to develop diversified learning and teaching materials as well as online resources to deepen students’ interest in learning and enhance teaching quality. To support those NSS subjects, such as Liberal Studies, for which the CDC does not recommend any textbooks and for which the EDB will not conduct textbook review, the EDB will develop and provide e-Learning resources and other relevant information and websites. These resources are produced by the Curriculum Development Institute
either solely or jointly with other organisations. For example, the e-Learning resources for Liberal Studies will be placed at the “Web-based Resource Platform for Liberal Studies” of the HKEdCity for teachers’ use. To support the implementation of the NSS curriculum and to encourage the use of diversified teaching materials, the EDB has provided online learning and teaching resources for some NSS subjects (e.g. Health Management and Social Care, Technology and Living) in addition to the textbooks produced by publishers. These resources have been uploaded onto the EDB webpage containing the New Senior Secondary Learning and Teaching Resource Lists.8
3.21 According to a recent survey conducted by the Consumer Council, there has been a slight drop in textbook prices. The expenses on textbooks for primary and secondary schools have decreased by 0.6% and 0.5% respectively.
3.22 The School Textbook Assistance Scheme of the Student Financial Assistance Agency (SFAA) provides textbook assistance to primary and secondary students who are financially in need.
It covers textbooks and miscellaneous school-related expenses for students from government, aided, caput and local schools under the Direct Subsidy Scheme. Textbook assistance consists of two components: (1) textbook subsidy, and (2) fixed subsidy. The textbook subsidy is adjusted annually based on the average textbook expenses of each level, while the fixed subsidy covers all school-related expenses such as those on buying workbooks. The Consumer Price Index announced in June every year will also serve as reference for the adjustment. Students who receive assistance can use the grants flexibly for direct purchase of books, workbooks and the like. In the 2008/09 school year, a total of 294,037 students benefited from the Scheme and the amount of assistance provided was $470 million. Since the 2006/07 school year, the SFAA has requested schools to submit their nominations of disadvantaged students before the start of the school year so that they can process the applications as soon as possible and disburse the grants to the students before the
school year starts. Please refer to the SFAA webpage for details.9
3.23 The Social Welfare Department (SWD) also provides full-time students of primary or secondary schools, and those of technical/commercial institutions receiving the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA), with a grant for selected items of school-related expenses, including textbooks. In the 2008/09 school year, 119,048 CSSA students received this grant, which amounted to a total of $360 million.
3.24 Textbook prices cover textbook costs and the costs of complementary teaching materials which publishers provide to schools. This bundled sale or purchase of textbooks and complementary teaching materials is, however, undesirable. To the WG’s knowledge, in the process of textbook promotion, textbook publishers usually offer their “service” to schools in the form of a set of complimentary teaching tools and materials. These include teachers’ handbooks, question banks, CDs for teaching, teaching aids and wall charts. As different schools have different needs on teaching materials, such free provision of teaching materials by publishers will inevitably result in wastage.
3.25 Textbooks are important learning tools for students. Quality textbooks can help students to learn, enhance their learning effectiveness, broaden their knowledge, and develop their ability of learning to learn. However, expensive textbooks have imposed a heavy financial burden on parents.
Although the Government has, under the principle of non-interference with the free market, implemented various measures to reduce textbook costs and curb increases of textbook prices so as to alleviate parents’ financial burden, the effect has been far from satisfactory. By reviewing the various aspects of textbook development with all parties concerned, the WG hopes to maximise students’ benefits without compromising textbook quality, and to make effective recommendations
on how to enhance textbook publishing and reduce textbook prices so as to provide students with quality and affordable textbooks and learning materials.
Chapter 4 Work Report
4.1 The development and use of textbooks and e-Learning resources are a complicated issue.
Using a range of strategies to collect views and information, the WG had provided members with a comprehensive picture to facilitate discussions and to formulate recommendations. A total of nine meetings were held, where the issues of textbook provision, pricing, and feasibility of developing e-Learning resources for wide adoption in schools, were discussed in depth. The WG also conducted three open seminars, two student forums and a school questionnaire survey to collect views from the public, school principals, teachers, students and parents, covering a variety of topics which included the quality, pricing and development of textbooks, the recycling of textbooks in schools, and the development and use of e-Learning resources. To gather more views from parents, the WG invited them to submit their views through the HKEdCity’s electronic platform. Apart from reporting their work progress to the CDC and LegCo Panel on Education and seeking their advice, the WG also visited schools experienced in using e-Learning resources to gain first-hand understanding of how they could be applied to promote interactive learning and teaching in class.
4.2 In February 2009, the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups and the WG jointly organised two student forums. The first forum discussed “the current use of e-Learning resources among young people” and “the vision of young people about e-Learning resources”, while the second forum focussed on “the use of e-Learning resources in various Key Stages”. Most student participants supported the implementation of e-Learning. A summary of the views from the student forums is attached at Appendix 6.
4.3 From February to March 2009, the WG held three open seminars to collect public views.
The seminars consisted of two parts. Part One was on the quality, development and pricing of printed textbooks. Part Two was on the modes of development for e-Learning resources.
4.4 Suggestion boxes were provided to collect written views from the public on the current situation of textbook and e-Learning resources development as well as the use of e-Learning resources.
4.5 On the whole, the written comments corroborated with those expressed during the seminars.
It was generally felt that the weight, thickness and price of textbooks could be reduced. Further, instead of giving undue emphasis on the implementation of e-Learning resources, it was believed that they should be used together with conventional textbooks to enhance learning and teaching effectiveness. Other topics like the price of e-Learning resources, their effect on student health and professional development for teachers were also among the public’s concerns. For a summary of the views collected during the seminars, please refer to Appendix 7.
4.6 School principals and teachers are major contributors to student learning. Their views on education policies are therefore very important. The WG had launched an online school questionnaire on the HKEdCity website to collect their views on the quality, pricing and provision of textbooks, as well as the development and use of e-Learning resources. All school principals and teachers in Hong Kong were invited to log on to their accounts at HKEdCity between 10 March and 10 April 2009 to complete the questionnaire. Approximately 48% of the schools in Hong Kong, i.e.
3,106 school principals and teachers from 537 schools, responded. For details of the questionnaire findings, please refer to Appendix 8.
Collection of Parents’ Views on the Web
4.7 The WG understands that parents care about their children’s education and that their support and engagement are necessary in the process of policy formulation. As a result, the WG set up a platform at the HKEdCity website from 27 April to 20 June 2009 to collect their views on the quality, pricing and provision of textbooks as well as the development and use of e-Learning resources. To encourage greater online participation, the WG sent an invitation letter to parents through schools. In total, 12,337 parents’ views were collected. For details regarding their views, please refer to Appendix 9.
Consultation with Professional Bodies and Community Groups
4.8 Regarding the direction in which the development of textbooks and e-Learning resources should take, the WG reported its work progress to the CDC and LegCo Panel on Education and sought advice from them.
4.9 The EDB, Consumer Council, textbook publisher associations, school councils, community groups and green groups presented their written comments on the prices of textbooks, the modes of publication and the future development of e-Learning resources to the LegCo Panel on Education, a brief summary of which can be found at Appendix 10.
4.10 All schools in Hong Kong are equipped with IT facilities and have implemented e-Learning resources to varying degrees. Some of our members had visited schools that applied e-Learning resources in both learning and teaching, and gained an understanding of how they actually worked in class. Schools that made good use of e-Learning resources not only managed to create space for effective learning, but were also able to cater for students’ diverse needs and abilities. These success stories can serve as examples for textbook publishers and schools as they collaborate on the
development of e-Learning resources.
4.11 Taking into consideration overseas practices in textbook development and provision (please refer to Appendix 11), as well as the school questionnaire findings and the parents’ views collected on the web, the WG had thoroughly discussed the following issues:
(i) textbook review mechanism;
(ii) selection and use of textbooks in schools;
(iii) textbook cost and pricing;
(iv) textbook revision;
(v) textbook recycling plan;
(vi) current implementation of IT in education in schools;
(vii) current development of EDB’s IT in education strategies, and the way forward;
(viii) impact of e-Learning resources on students’ eyesight;
(ix) strategies and measures for introducing e-textbooks/e-Learning resources;
(x) copyright of e-textbooks/learning resources;
(xi) learning and teaching resources depository pilot scheme.