Imagine a global classroom where any Hong Kong student can access and enjoy learning resources created by teachers from every other school in Hong Kong, anywhere and anytime. With the launch of the Hong Kong Digital Academy, that reality is here.
An outreach initiative by WebOrganic and the e-Learning Consortium, the academy aims to build a treasure trove of knowledge on YouTube so we can use video to reinvent education in Hong Kong. Its goals are endorsed by the Education Bureau.
Education is key to fostering innovation and economic growth, but today a high-quality education is not something every Hongkonger can take for granted. Research by the Institute of Education shows that, in 2011, university enrolment of young people from the wealthiest 10 per cent of households was 3.6 times higher than those from households with incomes of less than half of the median.
Technology alone will not address the challenge, but it can help make education more equitable. Wealthier schools have more resources. However, when learning resources are put on the web, they would be available to anyone with an internet connection.
This way of learning is already creating real impact. The Khan Academy, an innovative non-profit organisation conceived by former hedge fund manager Salman Khan as a way to tutor his cousins using internet videos, has now amassed a library of over 4,000 videos and four million users per month. Nothing inspires me more than stories of adults who never finished high school, but have since put themselves through college after learning from these videos.
With Hong Kong's unparalleled infrastructure, there is every reason why more teachers and students should harness the power of the web. The internet is democratising access to high-quality education. So let's start building a vibrant ecosystem of peer production and sharing to make more learning materials available.
I hope more students use the wealth of educational videos available through the Hong Kong Digital Academy for self-paced, customised learning.
I would also love to see more educators sharing their talents with fellow teachers and students. In the coming months, we will organise workshops and competitions to encourage teachers who want to make videos to contribute to the ecosystem.
Since our launch a few weeks ago, our library now contains over 60 videos catering to local students, and the number is growing. Let's work together to make educational videos go viral, and give every child here a chance for a better education.
Erwin Huang is CEO of WebOrganic. Visit the Hong Kong Digital Academy YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/TheHKDigitalAcademy