Expand your learning at the clickof a mouse
With a wealth of educational websites to choose from, Elaine Yau looks at what is on offer for students
Online projects, educational podcasts, virtual classrooms ... all these and the other teaching resources found on the Web have spiced up learning as never before.
In this digital age the attention span of students is rapidly decreasing. Traditional chalk and board teaching is not good enough anymore.
IT has become a buzzword on campuses in Hong Kong as Powerpoint and online educational videos flood classrooms.
A couple of learning platforms have also popped up on the Web where students can exchange ideas and learning materials with their overseas counterparts.
US software development giant Oracle launched an interactive learning platform Think.com (http://www.think.com/en/) in Hong Kong earlier this month.
The free site is a treasure trove of learning resources for both teachers and students. It allows users to exchange messages or pictures and features educational information across a wide range of disciplines.
The website has a strong international flavour because thousands of schools from around the world are connected to it.
Oracle education consulting manager Hui Seng Boon says students can choose from a variety of languages when visiting the site. 'Local students can even get themselves involved with learning projects overseas,' she said.
Singapore International School joined the service in January and became the first school in Hong Kong to sample the network's diversity.
'Our students really love it,' says principal Mak Lai-ying. 'It is fast and allows them to have discussions and do projects with students overseas.'
She adds that teachers did not have to worry about the safety of the virtual environment for their students. 'The platform has a strong monitoring system, so they can rest assured.'
Accompanying Think.com is an interactive online contest ThinkQuest (http://www.thinkquest.org/) where local students can team up with overseas students to design websites. The annual contest pits students from diverse backgrounds against each other, allowing entrants to hone their critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
International learning platforms promote inter-school learning by eliminating geographical barriers, but there are also many locally based online platforms for Hong Kong's students and teachers.
HKedCity.net (http://www.hkedcity.net/english/) is one of them. The interactive site is popular with both students and teachers. It features an educational news archive, learning exercises and games.
Local universities have also set up online banks of educational materials aimed at secondary students. Cityuteens (http://www6.cityu.edu.hk/puo/cityuteens/) is an online magazine which features the latest educational events, knowledge corners and opinion zones where users can share their views with others.
Hyper Workshop, a non-profit youth group has launched its website (http://www. hyper.com.hk/). The site has a strong conservation flavour. Featuring latest environmental events in the city, it allows green-conscious users to share ideas in forums and blogs.
The abundance of online learning platforms available to local students shows that Hong Kong's IT infrastructure is well-developed. Heung To Middle School (Tin Shui Wai) vice-principal Ng Hok-ling is on the Steering Committee on Strategic Development of Information Technology in Education. He says Hong Kong is one of the most advanced countries in Asia when it comes to IT in education.
Useful online platforms
Think.com connects schools, teachers and students from around the world. It allows students to post text, pictures and other files and work on projects together. Its annual project competition, ThinkQuest, challenges students to create educational websites.
HKedCity.net is a useful learning tool for both students and teachers. It has a large database of learning materials. With special corners for users to post project materials, the site allows teachers and students to share resources.