Innovation and Expansion
in Learning and Teaching

The University has always been associated with leadership in learning and teaching practices. The reason is simple: its ceaseless and unswerving dedication to innovation in these fields. Always exploring new ideas, new technologies, and new modes of effectiveness and efficiency, the University has continued to make significant strides forward in the quality of its learning and teaching initiatives over the past year.

Creative responses to
learning during the pandemic

With new waves of COVID-19 affecting Hong Kong in the second half of 2020 and mandatory social distancing measures in place across the year, the University has had to adapt its learning and teaching practices to an ever-changing community health environment. In response, it has implemented different modes of teaching for different subjects and activities, including online and hybrid lectures and tutorials and carefully-controlled face-to-face practical/lab sessions. These have been followed up by focus group discussions with students in July 2021, as part of a project aimed at evaluating the success of hybrid teaching. In February, the University's Institute for Research in Open and Innovative Education (IROPINE) organized a seminar series titled 'Innovative Hybrid and Flexible Teaching' that explored good practices in hybrid-flexible teaching in detail.

In addition, the University adapted some overseas experiential learning activities for the pandemic, for instance by developing local 'Learn & Experience' study tours for business students unable to take part in the overseas study tours planned for the Global Immersion Programme. A total of six such tours, three focusing on Spain and three on France, were organized to provide over 500 students with cultural immersion experiences. The Li Ka Shing School of Professional and Continuing Education (LiPACE) also hosted a monthly Virtual Travelling and Online Lecture Series by the Japanese Language and Cultural Studies Centre in collaboration with the Consulate-General of Japan in Hong Kong and various prefectural governments and tourism offices of Japan. Alongside these initiatives, the University offered special leave arrangements to encourage its employees to get vaccinated.


Education outside the classroom and lab

The University is increasingly emphasizing 'holistic education' for its students, recognizing the educational and life development value of a wide range of non-classroom learning experiences. This year it launched or continued several initiatives in this area, some carried out under the auspices of the Government's Quality Enhancement Support Scheme (QESS). One such project in progress is 'Learning Effectiveness Enhancement through Virtual Reality and Co-Curricular Activities Engagement' by the School of Arts and Social Sciences (A&SS), which is developing VR videos and instructional materials for teaching social science courses along with service-learning programmes. Also supported by the QESS is the School of Science and Technology's 'Industrial Attachment Project for Science and Technology Students', which has involved running practical and technical workshops to prepare students for hands-on experience in various industries.

The Service-Learning initiative of the Student Affairs Office (SAO) is another case of holistic education in action. Beginning as a pilot project in 2020 in collaboration with A&SS, the initiative is now being gradually expanded for all students. More details about individual Service-Learning programmes can be found in chapter 5 of this Review. The SAO also began running a new two-year Service Leader Training Programme in March 2021, which is equipping students with leadership skills by enabling them to plan their own service projects and work with NGOs. Similarly, the SAO's Summer Placement Programme at NGO 2021 helped students find summer work with NGOs as well as providing a basic subsidy and pre-placement training.

Elsewhere, A&SS's new Writer-in-Residence programme is now giving students exposure to working authors. The programme kicked off with a series of campus visits between February and May by renowned local writer Mr Dung Kai-cheung, with that author leading discussion groups with students in the Ho Sik Yee Library, where his literary works went on display during the period. Meanwhile, the recently established Language Centre launched several new initiatives to foster language learning among students and encourage them to expand their linguistic horizons. Offerings included an online English corner, free language learning classes in Japanese and French for beginners and interactive activities such as Movie Day and Board Game Day.

To encourage students to initiate, organize and participate in voluntary projects that can enrich campus life and boost personal development, the University has created a new Campus Life Enrichment Fund. This is an umbrella fund incorporating six separate funding options, with a total of HK$1.5 million available. The University has also been encouraging physical and mental wellness across its activities. Having become a member of the American College of Sports Medicine's 'Exercise is Medicine on Campus' scheme in 2019, it was pleased to receive a Bronze Award from the College in recognition of its efforts to promote exercise on campus. Another wellness initiative launched in the year was a series of mindfulness workshops for staff and students, developed and run by the Resilience and Well-being Team of the School of Nursing and Health Studies.

Opening doors to the future for students

With the pandemic significantly affecting the global and local economy, students have become more than ever concerned about being able to gain a foothold in the careers of their choice. The University has stepped up its work to support student career ambitions, both through the SAO and via initiatives undertaken by all its Schools. One highlight of the year was the Virtual Career Fair, which took place in April 2021. Over 3,000 students registered for the event and more than 600 took part in the webinars. This year, the University also purchased 2,000 LinkedIn Learning licences, providing students with online access to 16,700 online learning courses relevant for their career development across multiple sectors and industries.

With overseas visits and internships on hold, the SAO helped almost 400 students find local and virtual internships or on-campus work in summer 2021. In particular, the SAO developed two in-house virtual internships. One of these, the Japan Virtual Internship, provided two weeks of project-based intern work in collaboration with Kyushu Worth Spreading, with support from the Sunwah Foundation and the Japan-Hong Kong Society. The other in-house programme was the three-week Turkey Cultural and Virtual Internship, which offered students stimulating exposure to Turkish companies and culture. Elsewhere, a further 2,400 students participated in School-based credit-bearing internships or practicums. The University also regards entrepreneurship as an essential quality in today's world, and this year's Open InnoChallenge, the University's in-house start-up incubation programme, fostered entrepreneurial skills by granting seven student teams funding to develop creative and innovative ideas for social good.

Career support initiatives

ALTO — a centralized approach to enhancing learning and teaching

One of new President Prof. Paul Lam's first initiatives was to set up a new office that would centralize and unify the University's previously diverse work in enhancing its learning and teaching. The new Office for Advancement of Learning and Teaching (ALTO) was launched in August 2021, expanded from the original Educational Technology and Development Unit. ALTO team members have decades of experience in developing educational materials, and are active in both developing educational technologies (such as mobile apps and interactive online components) and showing academic staff how to use them through professional development seminars and workshops. ALTO is working closely with IROPINE, the Human Resources Office and the Registry to help staff embrace innovative pedagogy and use new technologies, while also collaborating with Schools, the SAO and the Language Centre to enhance student learning. In this area it is involved in developing initiatives such as new learning tools, online teaching on independent learning and study skills, and student e-portfolios for co-curricular/extra-curricular activities.