Focus

An Interview with Dr. Amy Chan, Associate Academic Vice President (Teaching and Learning Development) 

(27 November 2017)

Teaching, learning and research, are unquestionably the most important elements in any tertiary education institute. With the advent of technology, teaching and learning strategies need to be upgraded as well. Dr. Amy Chan, the Associate Academic Vice-President (Teaching and Learning Development) of Hong Kong Shue Yan University has shared with us about this.

What is the current direction of teaching and learning in Shue Yan?

As a knowledge-based and technologically driven society, Hong Kong is well placed to adopt e-learning in a big way. Therefore, employing new technology is one of the strategic directions of teaching and learning at Shue Yan. The University is developing extensive uses of an online learning management system “Moodle” (Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment). Besides, uploading and downloading lectures notes, readings and reference materials, Moodle also allows students to submit their assignments and teachers can give comments and grades via this system online. By means of Moodle, students can read feedbacks from teachers of all courses conveniently at one stop where they can evaluate their overall academic performance across the subjects; on the other hand, teachers can also make use of the “grade book” function to compile assignment and quiz statistics electronically to save administration time. That implies more time can be allocated to teaching preparation and research, which enable them to further strengthen their teaching and research quality. Moreover, teachers can conduct quizzes, surveys, questionnaires on Moodle to enhance students’ participation in class. To encourage the adoption of Moodle, the University’s Advancement of Teaching and Learning Committee (ATLC) has been organizing various workshops and demonstrations throughout the academic years for all Shue Yan teachers, especially the new faculty members. Another mobile application, EDVANT, which is developed by the Chinese University of Hong Kong, was also introduced in ATLC workshops. EDVANT is an online teaching platform developed by the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Students and teachers can interact during the class instantly through giving feedback, doing quiz and playing games on mobile phones. It is believed that online platform such as Moodle and EDVANT can facilitate effective teaching and actively engage students in their learning.  As a result, the teaching and learning experience and quality could be enhanced.

In 2017, new classroom technology system has been installed in all lecture theatres and classrooms in the Research Complex. To get colleagues familiarized with the system, ATLC has organized a number of workshops to demonstrate the operation of the hardware and software.

Over the years, the University has been putting great effort to integrate research into teaching and learning. It is very encouraging that starting from 2018/19 academic year, the University will start offering its first MPhil and PhD programmes in six areas: English, Chinese, History, Economics, Psychology and Sociology. By doing so, teachers are empowered to leverage on their researching prowess to disseminate up-to-date knowledge that really impact students. The benefits are two-way and mutual. While research students learn to become an independent researcher under proper guidance of their supervisors, our faculty members can also expand their research force which in turn enhances their research and teaching output.

 

With the Institutional Development Scheme (IDS) projects and centres are now in place, do you think they would help stimulate and benefit the teaching and learning at Shue Yan?

The two research centres under the Institutional Development Scheme are established to promote interdisciplinary and evidence-based research. Their activities delivered by overseas experts and scholars have brought in new insights, interdisciplinary areas in particular; and have provided opportunities to both our faculty members and students to gain more academic exposure. For example, the Research Day on 15th November has offered a networking platform where our colleagues and potential collaborators outside Shue Yan could gather to know each other and exchange ideas. Recently, the University has been investing in research related to ‘Brain-Based Teaching and Learning’. Accordingly, the IDS neuroscience laboratories are built to support the study of this area. We look forward to applying the research findings to help enhance the quality of teaching and learning at Shue Yan.

In response to rapid change of our world where societies and economies all over the world are increasingly interconnected, the University’s missions to nurture our students to become all-round global citizens who are able to employ multiple perspectives in problem solving. Therefore, the University has incorporated interdisciplinarity into its teaching and learning at different levels. At the postgraduate level, there will be a compulsory course on interdisciplinarity for MPhil and PhD students, topics including Green Garketing, which covers disciplines such as economics, marketing and environmental ethics and science. Besides, PhD students are required to use an interdisciplinary approach in at least one of their colloquia. At the undergraduate level, students shall complete at least one general education course in the area of ‘Interdisciplinary Perspective’. For example, we have offered ‘Manga and The Modern World’ and ‘Numbers in Daily Life’ this semester, and we are going to offer ‘Quantum Science and Faith’ in the coming year. We hope that students are encouraged to adopt interdisciplinary thinking in their daily practices. We also believe that the IDS lectures help inspire our teachers in developing their general education courses.

 

What do you envision the future for the long-term development of teaching and learning at Shue Yan and in the tertiary institutions in Hong Kong as a whole?

There will be four main focuses for our long-term development: 1. employing more technology in the teaching and learning settings; 2. establishing more multidisciplinary academic curricula; 3. developing connection between academic programs and industries. In 2017, the University has established the Office of Industrial Attachment (IAO), which liaise with the public and private sectors to offer internships as an elective course for our students. We are certain that the experience they have gained from the internships will strengthen their academic, career, and personal development; 4. Liberal Arts will be the major workforce sources in the future. In this era of Artificial Intelligence (AI), machines and robots have taken up many tasks that used to be handled only by human.  It is foreseen that many professions will soon be replaced by machines. Creativity and innovation will remain to be the most important human resources of all for the next generation. Given that Shue Yan is a liberal arts college, we will certainly take advantage of our all-round education and train people ready for the future.