The eight publicly-funded tertiary institutions will be asked to open their teaching resources for Asia's first online database. They will include case studies, scientific experiments and other sources of information. An indexing system will also be set up under the Learnet project to help faculty and students look up shared information, according to Ian Hart, head of the interactive media group at the University of Hong Kong's Centre for the Advancement of University Teaching. Professor Hart supervises the project, made possible by a $4.6 million grant from the University Grants Committee, to enhance learning at university. He expects various faculty members to contribute or develop learning objects - whether databases, videos or other digital information - that can facilitate teaching. Similar systems have already been put in place by institutions in Europe, Australia and North America. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) made headlines by opening up its teaching resources to the public last April. But Professor Hart, who also teaches broadcast journalism, said the local system had an advantage in its use of meta-data (information about stored data), which made searching easier and faster. The new system would also feature peer-reviewed material. He said it could foster a feeling of collegiality among staff from various institutions and facilitate the formation of discussion groups. Professor Hart is positive about institutions being willing to open up their resources. 'There will be people in certain departments in certain areas who are willing to contribute, for example, business case studies,' he said. Ideally, he said, the numerous teaching modules that have been created over the years with funding from the UGC's teaching development grants should also be shared. One example was Civcal, the Web site detailing a series of virtual building sites created by HKU's Department of Civil Engineering. 'There has been a paradigm shift in education towards student-centred learning where students are expected to go find resources and develop their own knowledge,' he added. An advisory group representing institutions including the Chinese University and the Hong Kong Institute of Education has been set up for the project. Professor Hart's centre is running a conference on January 27 and 28 to launch the project and demonstrate various online teaching modules. For information visit http://learnet.hku.hk/conference .