Fanling school shows that e-learning involves a lot more than just e-books

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 23 December, 2012, 4:55am

The moment you enter the Buddhist Po Kwong School in Fanling, things look different.

Laminated A4-sized flash cards are posted on chairs, bins and doors, and dot playground and hallways.

Each card has a QR (Quick Response) code, square barcodes that hold all sorts of data.

When students scan a code with their hand-held tablet computer, information pops up on the screen including karaoke-like audio and visual prompts on how to pronounce the words in English, Cantonese or Putonghua.

This is one of the simple, yet innovative methods of e-learning that integrates and adopts technology to benefit students.

But principal Lee Kai-ming said education officials were too focused on e-books, which were just one component of a paperless classroom.

"The government needs to invest more in this infrastructure and understand what schools need. Money is a point but it's more than that," he said. "Some policymakers lack a big vision and Hong Kong needs to catch up because the outcome is not just to be paperless."

Lee's school has about 300 students, about half of them from low-income families. It caters to students with learning disabilities and is one of 61 schools selected as part of a three-year, HK$59 million pilot e-learning scheme that started last year.

One 11-year-old Primary Five pupil with severe dyslexia said the flash cards made learning more fun. "I like to explore the school," she said, demonstrating what her teachers say is a huge step in her attitude to learning.

English teacher Ethan Yeung said the new classroom tools provided the results teachers were looking for.

"The pupils can walk outside the classroom and continue to learn when they want to, at their own pace," he said. "The school's approach really fosters learning autonomy but I can't see the government doing something like this. This is a paradigm shift that can help our students and what we do here is applicable to other mainstream schools."

An Education Bureau spokesman said the government had spent HK$9 billion on IT strategies for education since 1998.