FAST-CHANGING technological developments may be doing more harm than good in the education sector, a teaching expert has warned. During his recent visit to the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Professor Graham Fishburne of the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta, in Canada, said it was time more money was set aside for research into technology to test its effectiveness in teaching. He said with interactive technology becoming a global trend in university education, over-reliance on advanced technology for the sake of efficiency could force quality teaching to take a back seat. 'Unfortunately, technology is advancing at a faster rate than the research that is needed to check its effectiveness. 'We are very quick to apply things without checking whether it is a more effective way of learning,' said the award-winning scholar, who specialises in areas including effective teaching and teacher and child development. He said many universities, facing larger classes and limited resources, had turned to advanced technology. He cited an example in Canada where students at three universities 'attended' a lecture presented by a professor on interactive video. Mr Fishburne questioned the effectiveness of such practices. He warned there was a tremendous volume of education products and software which had no educational basis and had not been properly evaluated. 'We must be careful that the technology isn't put forward for efficiency without checking to see what we lose in quality.' Mr Fishburne said it was time more money was set aside to research and test whether certain technology was effective. Dr Sabrina Chin Su-fen, an assistant professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, who specialises in educational technology, repeated Mr Fishburne's warning. She said the main purpose of interactive technology in education was to benefit students and that thorough evaluations were essential to ensure that this was achieved. For instance, in a proposal concerning the use of CD-ROM software to teach medical students about surgery, which was submitted to the University Grants Committee in September, Dr Chin stressed that continual evaluations be done throughout the development process. 'It is our goal to find out whether students benefit from the technology,' she said. However, Dr Chin believes Hong Kong universities still lag behind North America in integrating technology into university teaching. She said in Hong Kong advanced technology was seen by administrators and lecturers only as an optional teaching aid that could be done without. 'There are teachers who have been using interactive technology, but the majority are still using more traditional ways of teaching such as lecturing with overhead transparencies.' It was time for the academic community in Hong Kong to realise the full potential of technology for teaching.