Recent Events
 •   University Research Centre (URC)
 •   Institute for Research in Innovative Technology and Sustainability (IRITS)
 •   Research Institute for Digital Culture and Humanities (RIDCH)
 •   Institute of International Business and Governance (IIBG)
 •   Institute for Research in Open and Innovative Education (IROPINE)
Upcoming Events
 •   University Research Centre (URC)
 •   Institute for Research in Innovative Technology and Sustainability (IRITS)
 •   Research Institute for Digital Culture and Humanities (RIDCH)
 •   Institute of International Business and Governance (IIBG)
 •   Institute for Research in Open and Innovative Education (IROPINE)

Home > Recent and Upcoming Events > Recent Events in the URC

Recent Events in the URC

Seminar on ‘Latest developments in learning analytics’
Seminar on ‘Instructors in the third generation distance education: Competency requirements and professional development’
Seminar on ‘Mobile learning: Research practices, challenges and future directions’
Seminar on ‘Managing bibliographic references with EndNote’
Seminar on ‘Measuring and forecasting college student engagement in e-learning environment’
Seminar on ‘Breastfeeding mothers’ perceptions of breast milk donation and a breast milk bank in Hong Kong: A qualitative study’

 

Seminar on ‘Latest developments in learning analytics’

Education is never a one-way street. This is particularly so in today's changing educational landscape in which non-traditional students, distance learners, and even traditional degree-programme undergraduates, take advantage of enhanced access to education; and, therefore, educators and university administrators have begun to complete the feedback loop and know how their students are faring in a lesson, module, course, assignment, or in college overall.

Learning analytics allows optimization of education delivery using information about learners and learning. Dragan Gašević, Professor and Chair in Learning Analytics and Informatics at the University of Edinburgh’s Moray House School of Education and School of Informatics, gave a seminar entitled “The Current State and Trends in Learning Analytics at the Open University of Hong Kong” on 22 January 2016.

Professor Gašević cautioned against equating learning analytics with purchasing analytics products. The awareness and culture of making data-informed decisions will determine the success of learning analytics. However, even with a plethora of data collected by analytics systems, not all data are created equal. Only those that serve to answer questions and offer possible solutions will make our effort in collecting and interpreting them worthwhile. Users of learning analytics will need to accept the caveat that there is no quick fix to impediments to learning, the root causes of which are inherently complex. In the current higher education context, creative data sourcing, participatory design of analytics tools, and a new analytics culture with built-in ethical safeguards and privacy will be the next frontier of educational innovation.

Research in digital and innovative education is being steered towards the promise of better teaching, better learning, and better students — who are less stressed, happier, and more successful — and Professor Gašević’s seminar has pointed all faculty participants in the right direction in an emerging and important field. The seminar on learning analytics was followed by a workshop, also led by Professor Gašević, in which participants continued to learn how to develop the capability for exploiting data. The event series was made possible by a grant from the Research Grant Council’s Inter-Institutional Development Scheme.

<back to top>

Seminar on ‘Instructors in the third generation distance education: Competency requirements and professional development’

From correspondence courses to electronic learning modules, distance education has been constantly evolving to make learning more effective. For instance, students can now use a myriad of means to interact with the instructor and fellow students. Also, in answering questions, instructors may need to moderate online discussions and provide guidance and directions in order to promote active learning. Dr Lily Li, Associate Professor in the School of Educational Technology, Beijing Normal University — who is also a visiting scholar at the Open University of Hong Kong — shared her research and experience on distance education in mainland China in this seminar on 19 February 2016.

In the seminar, Dr Li gave a historical overview of the development of distance education, citing different moments in history and educational theorists to underscore the qualitative changes in the way knowledge is gained. Learning has become more open, generative, learner-centred, and customized. Accordingly, educators (which include course coordinators or designers, professors, instructors, and tutors or teaching assistants) are now commonly required to perform tasks that were uncommon just a few years ago. Learning now has to compete with new media, a faster pace of life, and the proliferation of choices; and so, in the context of distance education, educators increasingly assume the roles of a motivator, coach, and counsellor. In view of this, learner support is likely to be every open education institution’s priority.

Beijing Normal University’s Research Centre for Distance Education, of which Dr Li is a member, conducted a study on the competency requirements and implemented professional development for educators in distance education. Drawing upon this, Dr Li stressed the need for educators to experience new learning modules as users in a test run before teaching them. Experiencing a new way of learning is one of the best training methods for today’s educators. They may then hone their skills through practice and conduct action research projects to enrich their professional knowledge.

<back to top>

Seminar on ‘Mobile learning: Research practices, challenges and future directions’

Just ten or even five years ago, few people could have expected that the ubiquitous smartphones would be a powerful educational tool. As it becomes more commonplace to see people — young people in particular — being fixated on their smartphone screens while travelling, enormous social and economic potential will be unleashed if everybody can use his or her device for learning. Mobile learning, however, is not without its challenges. There is a dearth of research on mobile or wireless technology’s application in education, and there is a great need for quality assurance, innovative instructional design, and suitable learning support to give both educators and learners the tools they need. Professor Mohamed Ally of Athabasca University’s Technology Enhanced Knowledge Research Institute, a world-renowned scholar on mobile learning, gave a seminar on 26 February 2016 which attracted a substantial audience from the Open University of Hong Kong, Caritas Institute of Higher Education, and the School of Professional and Executive Development, as well as the general public. Professor Allys seminar focused on how to transform the educational sector into a flexible infrastructure and culture that are amenable to the changing needs of today’s digital natives.

Digital natives have grown up with these emerging technologies and are expected to demand that learning support and instructional design catch up with their habits and needs. For instance, open and flexible education catering to these on-the-go learners needs to institute a system that delivers timely feedback and reduces cognitive load. Moreover, just-in-time teaching and virtual reality can also be incorporated to teach students who are more apt to learn through a series of activities or sensory experience respectively. In the future, gesture-based interactions may give educators new tools for engaging this generation of learners, whose multimedia learning experience will far exceed that of reading paper-based textbooks.

While we tend to think of mobile learning as primarily belonging to the developed world, where learners can afford to access educational materials with 3G, 4G, or high-speed wifi connectivity using their expensive gadgets, Professor Ally is exploring how the technology can be applied in a developing country such as Nepal. A poor mobile communication infrastructure, combined with a mountainous terrain, has made mobile communication signals spotty and access to the Internet unreliable and difficult in parts of Nepal. He has been in talks with a civilian drone-maker in Shenzhen to work towards an innovative solution. A drone capable of relaying mobile communication signals can one day be deployed so that learners in the most remote regions of Nepal can gain access to the Internet and a wealth of educational materials.

In the seminar, Professor Ally’s talk was followed by a lively question and answer session, in which the definitions and notions of mobile learning, tactics for overcoming teacher resistance, and future research directions were discussed. The seminar was part of a year-round faculty development series called "Mobile Learning: Innovative Research Topics and Applications," supported by a grant from the Research Grants Council.

<back to top>

Seminar on ‘Managing bibliographic references with EndNote’

A seminar on managing bibliographic references using EndNote was held on 29 February 2016 and was attended by over 20 members of the University community. EndNote is the bibliographic references software purchased by the University and has been distributed to Schools for colleagues to use. The seminar was conducted by Dr Billy Wong, Research Coordinator of the University Research Centre, with a focus on using EndNote to:

 •   build up the bibliographic library;
 •   import citations from online databases;
 •   manage the bibliographic library; and
 •   use the “Cite While You Write” function for citing and formatting references with Microsoft Word.

Please refer to the User Guide compiled by the University Research Centre or contact Dr Billy Wong at 2768-6718 or tamiwong@ouhk.edu.hk should you require any assistance in using EndNote.


<back to top>

 

Seminar on ‘Measuring and forecasting college student engagement in e-learning environment’

To what extent can student engagement forecast student performance?

Measuring student engagement is not an easy task. The picture often gets even more complicated when students and instructors do not meet face-to-face. Dr Lily Li, Associate Professor in the School of Educational Technology at Beijing Normal University, is a prominent researcher who focuses on measuring student engagement in e-learning environments. In Dr Li's seminar on 7 March 2016, she discussed previous studies that have laid the groundwork for her current research which compares student engagement data in Hong Kong and Beijing. Student engagement has long been viewed as an indication of education quality, student performance and student retention. The quality of student involvement, the student’s affective dimension, and the students' cognitive and social developments are all important considerations for understanding how students are engaged in their learning environments.

As Dr Li shared her preliminary findings, she identified students’ motivation to learn as one of the most critical areas for intervention. Perhaps more so in e-learning environments than the face-to-face mode of education delivery, teachers may enjoy more possibilities for enlisting new technologies, such as social media and the learning management software integration, to motivate their students and make them better learners.

<back to top>

Seminar on Perceptions of breastfeeding mothers on breast milk donation and establishment of human breast milk bank in Hong Kong: A qualitative study

According to the World Health Organization, infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development and health. Currently, mothers who are unable to breastfeed their own children have little choice but to resort to using baby formula. The establishment of a community breast milk bank, to which mothers may donate their surplus milk to those mothers in need, provides a possible solution. The first breast milk bank was set up in Vienna, Austria in 1909, but in Hong Kong there are still no official channels through which breast milk can be donated. Ms Joyce Leung, Senior Lecturer in the School of Science and Technology’s Division of Nursing and Health Studies, conducted a research project in which she interviewed breastfeeding mothers to investigate their perceptions of breast milk donation and establishing a human breast milk bank in Hong Kong. She shared her findings in a seminar on 22 March 2016. Her study was supported by a grant from the President’s Advisory Committee on Research and Development.

Through semi-structural interviews, Ms Leung collected data from mothers who were members of breastfeeding support groups. The data showed that they had safety concerns over the donation, collection and storage of breast milk; time and economic considerations; and some expectation of support from the government, workplace and healthcare professionals. Mothers are more likely to donate their breast milk when some quality assurance mechanisms are instituted by the government, travel or delivery costs are defrayed, and appropriate equipment and utensils are provided. This study also found that the acceptance of a human breast milk bank is high in Hong Kong. To get a fuller picture of breast milk donation in Hong Kong, similar studies are planned to investigate the views of other stakeholders, such as midwives and other health professionals. Applied research such as this informs public health initiatives and addresses social needs one step at a time.

<back to top>

    

 

© Copyright 2016. The Open University of Hong Kong. All Rights Reserved.