Education has been revitalized by the ubiquitous use of the Internet and technological advancement. To keep abreast of the global learning trend, the University has initiated a cloud-based e-learning platform KEEP (Knowledge and Education Exchange Platform) with its partner institutions. The one-stop platform aims at furnishing its subscribers with open access to quality educational resources, courseware and personalized learning content and data analytics.
Prof. Irwin King, Associate Dean (Education) of CUHK’s Faculty of Engineering and project investigator of KEEP, said, ‘The trend of providing quality education nowadays is to disseminate e-learning content to better engage learners. As an engineer, I wish to leverage technology for the betterment of teaching and learning.’ Teachers from Hong Kong institutions have created over 90 courses on the KEEP platform, while many more are in progress. Through collaborations with several global MOOC providers such as Coursera and cross-institutional projects like the BOLT (Blended & Online Learning & Teaching), KEEP has aggregated around 4,300 courses for global learners to access.
Analytics for Personalized Education
The widespread introduction of learning management systems (LMS) such as Blackboard Learn and Moodle has accumulated a vast amount of students’ learning and interaction data. On KEEP Moodle and KEEP edX, learners’ behaviours from video-watching, completion of quizzes and assignments to forum discussions can be tracked for purposes of understanding and optimizing teaching and learning. ‘KEEP provides a finergrained learning analytics. Teachers can identify when students are more active in the forum responding to posts and answering questions. We use a formula to calculate how active students are. With their online behaviours plotted on a graph, teachers can easily observe student engagement at a glance,’ Professor King explained.
The intelligent software can spot if a student is continually making similar mistakes, for example, which gives teachers capability to address the needs of individuals in a personalized way. On the other hand, learners can create their personalized learning path utilizing the course recommender based on their learning preferences and goals. ‘Learners taking MOOCs on the American War of Independence, for instance, can select the modules on economic consequences instead of the Five Major Services of KEEP KEEPSearch: an in-depth directory and search engine with dedicated educational resources from over three million education-related webpages being crawled and indexed; KEEPCourse: a gateway for students to enroll courses on international MOOC platforms such as Coursera, edX, ewant, xuetangX, etc., and for teachers to design online courses on learning management systems; KEEPCatalog: a showcase collection of the best-in-class software, hardware, and services for teaching and learning; KEEPoll: a real-time web and mobile polling service for interactive classroom communication; KEEPAttendance: a tool for teachers to easily take attendance with a QR code for students to scan. whole historical development.’ The content-based filtering system will recommend courses according to learners’ preferences, which saves them from having to select among a myriad of choices.
Learning Community Reimagined
Many people fear that e-learning will lead to less contact between students and teachers. In fact, e-learning can do the opposite by promoting self-regulated and peer-learning, which in turn enhances teacher-student interaction. Other benefits include easily digestible content and learning at students’ pace, which help learners create a sense of self-accomplishment.
To this end, KEEP has partnered with Edore, a local startup promoting micro-learning. On the micro-module platform edore@KEEP where small chunks of media-rich learning content are developed, online supplementary exercises are automatically graded to give learners immediate feedback on their progress. The micro-learning platform empowers learners as they are allowed to create quizzes to challenge their peers, which implies a paradigm shift from one-way lecturing to learning community co-creation.
Wired to Habits of Net Generation
Large lecture classes in higher education settings pose many challenges to class interaction. KEEPoll is a polling facility that can be deployed for instant feedback, which addresses this issue. Students can scan the QR code with their networked portable devices and answer the questions, both multiple choice and open-ended. Real-time results will be projected on the screen, giving the teachers an idea of whether students are able to grasp the class content. ‘Answers to open ended questions can somehow trigger further discussions and invite interesting responses, enhancing learning atmosphere in class,’ said Professor King.
‘Gamification is also central to e-learning,’ he continued. KEEP is co-branding a game engine (PaGamO) which models a world in which a user’s territories will be expanded with points obtained from taking educational quizzes. Teachers can customize the game template by supplying questions from their own disciplines. The gamification approach encourages student engagement in-class and out-of-class, and results in a motivating blended learning environment. In future, KEEP will also develop social and collaborative enhancement tools to foster a more active and inquiring way of learning.
‘Students’ self-discovery process nowadays is different from 10 to 15 years ago. Inevitably, e-learning implies more work for teachers and learners. But teachers will find it worth pursuing as long as they see better student engagement enabled by shifting parts of lectures online and allowing more time for classroom interaction,’ Professor King concluded.
Adapted from the Chinese University Bulletin No.2, 2016