The University’s Discovery-enriched Curriculum (DEC) is a new initiative to move the entire University towards a new era of mobile-learning. It aims to provide “always-on” learning - anytime anywhere.
“Whether using new mobile platforms for students and faculty to communicate about assignments, creating Facebook pages that allow social networking for class projects, using software that enables students to reflect on their learning, or facilitating the collection of student work through an ePortfolio, technology is an irresistible force in shaping education”, says Dr Andy Chun, Chief Information Officer at CityU.
A total of HK$9 million has been allocated to support the University’s e-learning strategy. HK$5 million of which will be used to set up two grants: DEC Mobile App Development Grants (MADGs) and the DEC Technology Adoption Grants for Teaching Innovation (TAGs). The first round of applications for the two grants attracted about 30 proposals from teachers and students.
MADGs encourage the adoption of mobile-learning through the development of mobile apps that support teaching, learning, research, administration and other general uses, whereas TAGs support the purchase of necessary mobile devices, software and apps needed to implement innovative teaching methods.
HK$4 million will be used to support other e-learning initiatives, including the development of a Facebook-like social environment for knowledge sharing and discussion, and the provision of recorded or live-stream lectures that introduce the emerging “flip classroom” concept.
In addition, in the coming Fall 2012 semester, the University is investing another HK$7 million to subsidise first year students in their purchase of computing devices, which includes mobile devices such as tablets.
“We believe that our approach to teaching and learning will motivate and ignite a passion for knowledge and discovery in our students, prepare them to practice professionally at and beyond the level of international standards, and promote a culture of knowledge and innovation that spurs local and global advancements in professional practice”, says Dr Chun.
To ensure maximum connectivity, City University is fully wifi-enabled, with every corner of the campus furnished to create miniature learning commons, making the entire campus an open learning environment that facilitates students’ ability to share, discuss and learn from each other.
Students also have wifi access at all the other major universities in Hong Kong as well as over 12,000 hotspots around Hong Kong, through University agreement with the major wifi service providers; these hotspots are located at popular spots such as trains, buses, cafes, restaurants, fast food shops, and shopping malls, etc. The Hong Kong Government also provides free wifi at several hundred locations, including public libraries, public enquiry service centres, sports venues, cultural and recreational centres, job centres, community halls, major parks, government buildings and offices, etc. When overseas, CityU students have free access to the “eduroam” wifi network spanning over 30 countries and hundreds of universities worldwide.
In March 2011, the University launched its first mobile-learning pilot scheme, letting students borrow from a stock of over 400 iPads and iPod Touch devices. The aim of the pilot scheme was to promote interactive learning and knowledge exploration both in and outside the classroom. It also encouraged teachers to devise activities to cultivate students’ potential and promote better communication between students and teachers. Around 400 students from five different departments participated in the scheme.
As of today, City University is using roughly 6,500 mobile devices daily for e-learning, representing about 30% of the total student population. It is a substantial jump from less than 1% in early 2011 when the project first began.
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