Interview transcribed by Gabrielle Poon
At The Education University of Hong Kong KEEP Seminar, we had interviews with Professor Cheng (Chair Professor of Teacher Education) and Dr Stapleton (Head and Associate Professor of Department of English Language Education) from EdUHK, in which they expressed their views on e-Learning. The followings are the videos of the interviews:
Interview with Professor Cheng at The Education University of Hong Kong
Q: What do you think is the most urgent problem to be solved regarding online education?
A: It depends on the context of the question, whether you are referring to online education at the university level or not. And if so, is it about promoting online education at the university level ?, I don’t see it as a problem but the ways of how you promote it in university courses. So I would see it to be more about how you help teachers, professors or lecturers, how do you help them to integrate online education with their face-to-face lessons, how do they make use of online education to deliver, for example, their course materials, and how do they use it to do assessment and to provide feedback for students. And so, if the integration is done well and is integrated with their day-to-day pedagogy, then I think a lot of students in the university will benefit. So it’s not only about looking at it as a problem but as a way of promoting its use and making ways that lecturers and students can make use of it to help their learning. If so, then a lot of students can benefit from it.
Interview with Dr Stapleton at The Education University of Hong Kong
Q: What do you think is the biggest difference between learning language in physical classrooms and learning language through online courses?
A: Well, I suppose the biggest difference is that if you are learning in a physical classroom, you have others in the classroom who you can communicate with, that you can interact with, that you can respond to and so on whereas if you are learning in an online environment, you are mostly by yourself in front of a computer and you miss that direct interaction, response and spontaneity that you normally have if you were in a classroom environment. Now, there are certain advantages to online learning environment if the software that you are using to learn a language is appropriate and good-quality because you could perhaps be doing some sort of assessment or some sort of reading exercise or even listening exercise in which you get instant feedback if you are answering say a text question you can get instant feedback whether your response is correct or not. You would not have that in a classroom environment normally. There are other new possibilities in an online environment where if the technical aspect is good enough, in other words, if you are using some sort of online classroom where you have those you are communicating with in real time and you can see them on a screen in a skype-like situation only better than skype. Well, that can imitate a new classroom to a certain extent. You can have conversations, discussions with members of your virtual class even if those members are overseas. So, that, of course, is an advantage that it brings people together in an virtual environment. But, generally speaking, the technology right now is, if you are just using skype for example, which I’ve used in various similar situations, the stability is often a question. The quality of the sound, the quality of the videos are sometimes an issue. But I think, if we go forward, we should have improvements made in an virtual classroom environment to an extent that sometime in the future those classrooms could be, could provide as good an experience for the language learner as a real classroom environment. So I think there are advantages to a certain extent especially for skills like reading, listening, and even possibly writing. But if we are looking at language skills I think speaking and having a natural environment, the classroom still would have an advantage over an online experience.