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The University of Western Australia Graduate School of Education Master of Education EDUC 8608 E-learning

Web 2.0 e-learning Services in Hong Kong: A Current Snapshot and Potentials for Teenage English Language Learners

LAM Kai Ming, Peter (20428002) August 16, 2009 1

Abstract

This paper dissimilates the situation of Web 2.0 e-learning applications in Hong Kong. Some recent examples of locally developed applications were reviewed, with their implication to education and e-learning discussed. The pedagogy issues associated to implement Web 2.0 style e-learning is next explored, in particular, how does “socialization” connect to formal learning? By using Porter’s Five Competitive Forces Model, this paper then goes through an all-rounded review of the influential factors affecting successful Web 2.0 application implementation.

At the final section of this paper, an e-learning service for Hong Kong teenagers to practice English speaking is illustrated. Through this example, we shall realize how Web 2.0 may assist students in their language practices.


Contents 1

Abstract ........................................................................................................................................... 1

2

Introduction ..................................................................................................................................... 3

3

Current Snapshot ............................................................................................................................. 5

4

Pre-requisites for successful Web 2.0 application deployment ..................................................... 12

5

Supplier Influences ....................................................................................................................... 14

6

5.1

Availability of (relatively mature) Web 2.0 technology ................................................. 15

5.2

Availability of local contents .......................................................................................... 16

5.3

Availability of local language support ............................................................................ 16

5.4

On-going technology support ......................................................................................... 16

5.5

On-going contents support .............................................................................................. 17

Buyers Influences .......................................................................................................................... 17 6.1

Perception of usability from students, parents teachers and schools .............................. 17

6.2

Technical competency of learners and instructors .......................................................... 18

6.3

Collaborative learning conditions ................................................................................... 18

6.4

Integration into formal curriculum ................................................................................. 19

6.5

Fulfillment of long-term educational goals and mandates of the Government or

educational authorities ................................................................................................................... 20 7

8

9

Entrance Barrier Influences .......................................................................................................... 20 7.1

Availability of budget / funding ...................................................................................... 20

7.2

On-going maintenance of contents ................................................................................. 21

7.3

Availability of broadband connection and computer resources (at home and at school) 21

Substitutes Influences ................................................................................................................... 21 8.1

Traditional classroom learning activities ........................................................................ 21

8.2

Existing Web 1.0 based technologies, products or services............................................ 22

8.3

Self-learning and other Informal learning outside school ............................................... 22

8.4

Textbooks ....................................................................................................................... 22

8.5

Mass media ..................................................................................................................... 23

Rivalry Influences ......................................................................................................................... 23 9.1

Competition of resources from various school activities ................................................ 23

10

Learning English in Hong Kong ................................................................................................... 24

11

Suggestion of a Web 2.0 based e-learning platform ..................................................................... 25

12

Conclusion .................................................................................................................................... 27

13

Reference ...................................................................................................................................... 29

14

Appendix 1. Assignment Details................................................................................................... 31

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Appendix 2. Smith’s 51 Competencies For Online Instructors ..................................................... 32

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2

Introduction

The emergence of the Web 2.0 concept and New Digital Media (NDM) makes us wonder what next the Internet could offer to schools and students.

We must highlight that the notion of Web 2.0 is not a single encompassing technology that is developed and flourished in its own rights. Web 2.0 does not even refer to any specific change in the technology of the Internet, but rather the behavior of how people use the Internet (Twinity 2009). Indeed, it is a design approach or “a set of principles and practices” as denoted by O’Reilly who coined the term back in 2004. (Figure 1) The related services, platform, tools, application and the underlying technologies may be the same as earlier ones in the so-called Web 1.0 era. O’Reilly identified seven major characteristics of the Web 2.0 design approach (Table 1). In particular, he insightfully pinpointed that “Web 2.0 is all about harnessing collective intelligence” (O’Reilly 2004, O’Reilly & Battelle 2009).

Figure 1. "Meme map” from a brainstorming session of what is Web 2.0 (O’Reilly 2005). Services, not packaged software, with cost-effective scalability Control over unique, hard-to-recreate data sources that get richer as more people use them Trusting users as co-developers Harnessing collective intelligence Leveraging the long tail through customer self-service Software above the level of a single device Lightweight user interfaces, development models, AND business models

Table 1. Seven Major Characteristics of Web 2.0 Design Approach (O'Reilly 2005).

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Web 2.0 Design Patterns The Long Tail Data is the Next Intel Inside Users Add Value Network Effects by Default Some Rights Reserved The Perpetual Beta Cooperate, Don’t Control Software Above the Level of a Single Device

Table 2. Web 2.0 Design Pattern (Alexander cited in O'Reilly 2005).

New Digital Media (NDM) refer to all sorts of digitalized or computerized contents that are often readily available on the Internet. Such contents sometimes originate from the public domain, which is on the contrary to television, radio or high-budgeted movies in which case only a handful of producers are supplying most contents.

Yet, what are their implications to education? In particular, what are the potentials of Web 2.0 technologies and NDM, and what do they enable local secondary school students in Hong Kong to learn English better? We shall take a snapshot of the current e-learning applications in Hong Kong. Next we shall discuss the pre-requisites for successful Web 2.0 application deployment. Based on Porter’s Five Competitive Forces Model (Figure 2), we shall also identify what factors are influencing successful implementation of Web 2.0 technologies into Hong Kong education sector.

Figure 2. Porter's Five Competitive Forces Model.

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3

Current Snapshot

Since the introduction of personal computers in schools, computer assisted learning (CAL) practices has started to flourish in Hong Kong. The scale of this CAL may vary, but often it is standalone topic specific initiative with limited users. Not until in recent years we see the first large scale e-learning service.

The most prominent example was launched in 2003. Back then, the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) demonstrated the convenience of distributing homework assignments electronically during the SARS pandemic hit the city. For a near three-month period, all schools were forced to closure because of the spreading of a lethal virus. Prolonged home schooling was very ineffective as parents could not provide constant support and the supplies of printed teaching materials were overstretched. School found it also inconvenient to routinely mailing worksheets and self-study instructions to all students. Recognizing this opportunity and tapping into the availability of broadband Internet which started to proliferate in the city, the university launched “A Passage A Day” (每日一篇) platform during the pandemic, which partially alleviated the lack of locally produced Chinese online reading material suitable for younger school children. Yet, it profoundly demonstrated the potential of e-learning when suitable environmental conditions and requirements are in place. The upside – young readers may at their own pace, read a few passages a day according to their literal competency and then respond to a reading comprehension exercise with a progress report tracked automatically. The downside – a lack of development direction, customer service, limited billing service and the emergence of competitors resulted a sharp decline of patronage from 200 thousand in 2004 to 8 thousand in 2008 (Wiki 2008a).

http://home.school.hk (家校通) can be considered as a revamped application spawned from “A Passage a Day”. Based on the Web 1.0 extranet concept, the platform is operating in 172 schools in Hong Kong. Rather than an e-learning platform, it is designed as a workflow manager streamlining daily administration of homework scheduling and worksheet dispatching. It includes a homework handbook, a school calendar, a discussion forum, web photo albums and a notice board for the school to announce its latest news (Figure 3). The notice board may also act as an electronic questionnaire soliciting feedbacks from the parents. With this platform, schools may tailor their own learning material for distribution to their students. There is more control and flexibility to the scheduling and the contents according to the school needs.

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Figure 3. Sample screens of home.school.hk (家校通). Top Left: homework scheduler, Top Right: Homework download, Bottom: Latest News).

The core focus of the two abovementioned examples is on content management. A local publisher, on the contrary, put its emphasis on the contents. A recently developed service 階梯 閱讀空間 (translated as “stepwise reading domain”) www.cp-edu.com focus on the contents

itself. This service integrates an online dictionary, pre-recorded recitation of the passages in both Cantonese and Potunghua (Mandarin), relevant multimedia contents, and assessments for evaluating reading progress (Figure 4). This publishing company has a joint-venture with a local university (HKPU/SMILE) to develop a platform called EasyA that promotes Chinese literature learning amongst local schools. It has also undertaken an i-Reading initiative to promote e-books based on the FlipViewer technology, transforming traditional printed contents into the digital era (Figure 5).

Figure 4. Screen dump from 階梯閱讀空間 (stepwise reading domain) (www.cp-edu.com ).

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Figure 5. Screen dump from an i-Reader e-book.

There are other platforms that focus on course delivery. Launched in July 2009, YouToTalk (Figure 6) (www.youtotalk.com) is a private initiative for professional tutors to deliver courses online with presentation slides augmented with voice commentary and a discussion forum. Courses may either be pre-recorded or webcasted online. The platform has an electronic blackboard for simultaneous webcast live to pre-registered students. The contents are organized by academic subjects with breakdown by topics. Registered students may search and choose from a database for the right course to attend. This mode of delivery is somewhat similar to chain tutorial schools in Hong Kong. Some popular tutors are unable to delivery face-to-face courses to thousands of students at once. Video recordings are commonly used to satisfy the students’ patronage. Webcasting deliver contents to the students’ homes, enabling self-paced learning with remote support by the tutors through discussion forums. Nonetheless, during a marketing seminar of this company, some tutors express concerns about their loss of control to proprietary teaching materials once it is placed online. In a fairly competitive tutorial business market in Hong Kong, this is a legitimate concern as the cost of producing high-quality teaching material for independent tutors is substantial. Web 2.0 demands collaboration of the participants. If large scale chain tutorial schools are unwilling to publish their lectures online due to intellectual property rights concerns, the situation for independent tutors can be worse. Although we are uncertain its business potential and future, the education value of YouToTalk is clear and apparent.

Figure 6. Screen dump from YouToTalk (www.youtotalk.com).

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Shedding the commercial element, there are numerous discussion forums in Hong Kong based on the Discuz bulletin board package. More prominent sites like Uwants (www.uwants.com), Discuss Hong Kong (www.discuss.com.hk) and 3boys2girls (www.3boys2girls.com) (Figure 7), all have a section dedicated to student exchanges on homework issues. We see the merits of forums as a platform of ideas exchanges, yet its pedagogy use may not be straightforward as contents are highly disparate and disorganized.

Figure 7. Screen dump from 3boys2girls discussion forum (www.3boys2girls.com).

Another Web 2.0 education service example is Learning 2.0 from The Hong Kong University (Figure 8). Funded by the Quality Education Fund, the university is developing an experimental e-learning platform using Web 2.0 technologies for four local secondary schools to facilitate the new subject Liberal Studies for Form 4 to 6 students (Grade 10-12). Although the curriculum has fixed a broad focal area for the subject, there is no predefined reading list or enforced mode of learning. Learning 2.0 provides support on both learning and assessment. It covers all aspects of the subject so that scaffolding is possible while students progress in their studies. The platform provides a selected playlist of video clips, statistics, and online news according to the topic under discussion. It also manages assessment by the teacher, the students and peer groups. Similar to YouToTalk, there is a discussion forum and electronic blackboard for online communication and collaborative solution making as well.

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Figure 8. Learning 2.0: an Online Platform and a Teacher Support Network for Curriculum and Assessment Innovation in Liberal Studies for the NSS Curriculum. (HKU 2009)

One would expect more groundbreaking and innovative Web 2.0 applications like virtual world, New Digital Media (NDM) manipulation in the education sector in Hong Kong where IT infrastructure is well-built. The applications we have discovered, however, show only how Web 2.0 may have extended existing classroom learning or administration activities by doing them more efficiently or effectively. These activities often focus on drilling on a certain skills (for instance, reading comprehension) or on school related CRM management (assignment distribution). It is surprising from the personal encounters with my students, that none of them has heard of virtual world and NDM, albeit they are often frequent user of Facebook or MSN. Why?

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Zhang et al (2009) asserted that there are cultural and regional specific issues that hinder the proliferation of virtual world social networking platform like Second Life or HiPiHi World1 in China. Under the circumstances that the backbone Internet connections being relatively slow, government regulations being stringent, and user interface of the platform being complex, Zhang concluded the general acceptance of virtual world would be poor in mainland China.

Yet in Hong Kong virtually all teenagers and young adults have accessed the Internet (98.8% and 98.6% compared to 64.8% overall) (C&SD 2008). Surveys on local youths and young adults (age 12-25) discovered that more than 69% of the respondents use the Internet for more than 4 hours a day. Over 74% of them maintain blogs. In addition, web surfing, information gathering, file downloading, sending email and Internet messaging are the top activities online (HKYFC 2009, HKUPOP 2005). Although there were no explicit details given in the two surveys on what websites these youths had visited, near 70% of them would at least respond to strangers they met on the Internet. This indirectly has reflected a phenomenon that Internet socializing is indeed common place among the teenagers here. Hong Kong has a world-class Internet backbone comparable to that among major cities in Europe and North America, a liberal and open telecommunication practice, plus a bilingual demography. The success of Second Life in the West has not been replicated here. Again, Why?

In contrast to Second Life, locally developed virtual world platforms Sooff World, meaning “show off” (Figure 9), and VxRWorld (Figure 10) are more skewed towards entertainment. Both using 2.5D graphics based on less computer resource demanding Flash technology, their designs have a strong Hong Kong flavour that targets the local teenager audiences. Product posing, map and building design are closing resemble real world Hong Kong. VxRWorld has even a separate map showing entertainment and restaurants around town. On the other hand, Mainland China developed virtual world platforms HiPiHi (Figure 11), NovoKing and UOneNet have a more sophisticated user interface comparable to Second Life. Yet seemingly all of them are commercially positioned. Nevertheless, none of these virtual worlds has strong

1

HiPiHi World

www.hipihi.com is the first virtual world platform developed in China and

launched commercially in 2008. It has now 89127 residents. The company recognizes the need to build interoperability among various virtual world platforms. It also sees the differentiation among these virtual worlds will be in their “culture and residents communities”. There are two other China-based competitors NovoKing www.novoking.com and UOneNet www.uonenet.com, www.uworld3d.com. Both of them are still in the testing stage. In 2008, the reported numbers of users of these three Chinabased platforms are 48000, 10000 and 1000 respectively, dwarfed by 13.5 million of Second Life (Tschang 2008).

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element for intellectual or cultural exchanges as found in Second Life. Without much spectacular visual effects, these virtual worlds are unattractive as compared to many MMORGP games on PC platform, even inferior as compared to video games on PSP, Playstation or Xbox platforms. One of my students criticized virtual world as an aimless perpetual “game”. “Unlike other MMORPG that you may construct your own virtual empire or artifacts, it is too complicated to do so in virtual worlds. As a game, it is too boring and a waste of time.” Another student argued about the virtual identity portrayed inside virtual worlds. “If a virtual world is where you may realize dreams and fantasies unable or impractical to fulfill in the real world, chances are your virtual identity is not your true self but a perfect personality or image to suit your dreams. This hinders socialization as false or partial true identities does not necessary promote trust between people. If everybody is using true identities and treat virtual worlds as only an alternative channel or platform for communication, then after day long learning together at school, chatting online via MSN, SMS or calling each other mobile phones after school, why do we need to repeat the same things on a virtual world? What are the things the students cannot do in the real world and must be done in a virtual one?” This reinforced the argument that “there are serious challenges associated with implementing an NDM-based pedagogy. NDM may be seen as sources of entertainment and escape, not learning.” (Weigel, James and Gardner 2009).

Figure 9. Screen dump from Sooff World (www.sooff.com).

Figure 10. Screen dump for VxRWorld (www.vxrworld.com).

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Figure 11. Screen dump from HiPiHi World (www.hipihi.com).

Figure 12. Screen dump from i-Cube (www.icube.hk).

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Pre-requisites for successful Web 2.0 application deployment

The applications mentioned in the previous section have various degree of sophistication, different market positioning, and diverged education foci. Some are experimental attempts, while other are commercially available, trying to implement formal learning elements with a mixture of principles from distance learning, self-learning and collaborative learning.

Smith (2005) reviewed 51 competencies required for instructors to conduct effective online distance learning courses2. Out of these competencies identified, he further classified them into three groups – ones that are required before, during and after a course (Table 4). Nine of these competencies refer to a learner-centric approach of studying. Learners have to recognize their own responsibilities in learning and it is crucial to maintain and develop social relationships among peer learners, instructors and school.

2

Smith concurred with Kerka that “competence as a complex combination of knowledge, attitude,

skills and values displayed in the context of task performance”. He admitted that the competency approach would lead to building checklists and the suggestion of a minimum standard. (Smith 2005).

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Be care about course requirement

Become a lifelong learner

Develop relationship

Encourage contacts between students and faculty

Encourage students to bring real-life examples into the online classroom

Foster learner centeredness

Prepare students for online learning

Promote collaborative learning

Promote reflection

Nonaka and Takeuchi (cited by Geytere 2009) state knowledge creation is an iterative process whereby Socialization is only the first step of the process (Figure 13). Tacit knowledge, hidden curriculum or “communities of practices” (Wegner 2004) originates from the face-toface interactive communication and shared experience among the participants, or in our discussion context, the learners. That includes skills and know-how of individual, care, love, trust, energy, passion and tension, or perhaps a simple word – culture.

It still takes the learners to go through three more steps. Externalization, when learners reflect the experience, articulate their ideas and express themselves; Combination, when learners connect the new and past experiences by comparing and contrasting; and Internalization when learners assimilate the experience and embody it to become part of their own or the learner community’s “knowledge”. This concept echoes to the principles of constructivism suggested and advocated by Piaget.

Nonaka and Takeuchi also classify knowledge into Experimental, Conceptual, Systemic and Routine. Web 2.0 approach, perhaps with its strong social networking nature, supports the development of Experimental knowledge that is informal or tacit. It foreshadows the development of Conceptual and Systemic knowledge which are more commonly defined in formal learning.

Furthermore, successful Web 2.0 approach requires Collaborative Learning, which to a much extent, relies on the culture among the learners which “affects [formal] educational practices internally, externally and over the lifespan of the students” (Wenger 2004). Learners need to adjust themselves to a different mode of online learning and must accept the notion that collaborative effort is greater than the sum of the individuals.

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Figure 13. SECI Model of Nonaka Takeuchi (Geytere 2009).

O’Reilly, in his original ideas of the Web 2.0 approach, states that “network effects from user contributions are the key to market dominance in the Web 2.0 era”. In the education arena, this translates into learner-supplied learning materials which can be used collaboratively. The learners are deciding what being important to them, not a handful of people in the “back room”. Learners, as “participants and co-developers”, have to continuously contribute to the Web 2.0 applications, and the more they contribute, the more they may ripe off from the collaboration as network effect have been realized.

Nonetheless, collaboration is changing instructor-centric activities into learner-centric. What is more, it is a value or attitude shift that knowledge is a public domain commodity rather the proprietary intellectual property. 5

Supplier Influences

In the following sections, we are going to indentify the influencing forces that impede or expedite the deployment of Web 2.0 related technologies and designs in the local education sector. Firstly, from the supplier point-of-view, we see the following issues for successful deployment of Web 2.0 technologies. 

Availability of (relatively mature) Web 2.0 technology

Availability of local contents

Availability of local language support

On-going technology support

On-going contents support

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5.1 Availability of (relatively mature) Web 2.0 technology

The education sector can be both pioneer and conservativist at the same time. On one hand, it tries to cultivate and influence learners to embrace new ideas and knowledge in order to nurture their future, on the other hand, its administration and pedagogy principles can be bureaucratic and doctrinal with an extensive history and traditions. Since the inception of the Web 2.0 concept in 2004, prominent social networking sites like Facebook, Myspace, Wretch3 or Xiaonei 4 help connecting people of different backgrounds and ages. Internet messaging services like Windows Live Messenger or QQ5 provide an alternative channel for people to communicate simultaneously while working online with their personal computers. Media sharing platform like Youtube, Flickr or Picasa stockpile a huge collection of useroriginated videos and photos that can be accessed within seconds by a few mouse clicks. Virtual world social platform (which is often seen as a computer game or talker) like Second Life or HiPiHi World render a three-dimensional virtual reality for people to express and fantasize themselves without some of the social boundaries and restrictions of our real world living in. These examples should be adequately for us to believe that Web 2.0 is now relatively mature.

Figure 14. Examples of Web 2.0 Tools and Applications (Go2Web 2009). 3

Wretch (無名小站) www.wretch.cc was originally a Taiwan-based blogging and forum website

which have been acquired by Yahoo since 2007. 4

Xiaonei (校內)

www.xiaonei.com is a social networking site of China launched in

2008. As at 2009, it claims to have over 40 million registered users and daily login of over 22 million times. Its interface and application offered are very close to that of Facebook. 5

Tencent QQ www.im.qq.com was launched in 1999. It is the largest China-based instant message

service with over 64 million users according to its website accessed on July 26 2009.

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5.2 Availability of local contents

Besides having the right tools in place, it is also critical to have local contents that are suitable to the context and situations of Hong Kong learners. The availability of authentic materials with local relevancy is always a key to arousing interests in language learning.

A quick review of a catalogue of computer software developed by the IT Education section of the Education Bureau revealed that they are mostly computer-assisted learning application developed with Flash. While most of them have tailored contents relevant to the local school curriculum, none has deployed any Web 2.0 design concept. (EDB 2007a).

The Education Bureau has been advocating local schools to develop its own curriculum (school-based curriculum) which would better tailor to the needs of their students (EDB 2009a). The very nature of Web 2.0 approach to facilitate the creation and consumption of original contents is a definite fit of the policy. 5.3 Availability of local language support

Learning English in Hong Kong has a very unique situation. Lin calls English is “a socioeconomically dominant language” in Hong Kong and consider language learning is closer to an English as a Secondary Language (ESL) situation for the bilingual middle class, but closer to an English as a Foreign Language (EFL) situation for the monolingual working class. (Lin 1997). For this dual nature, there must be a certain degree of Chinese language support in designing a suitable English learning platform that fits everybody. (Refer to Section 10 for further details.) 5.4 On-going technology support

Web 2.0 designing employs the idea of continuous improvement. O’Reilly’s concept of “Perpetual Beta” denotes Web 2.0 applications are no longer software artifacts but ongoing services (O’Reilly 2005). That means we will expect continuous incremental improvement to the application as it evolves and grows. This further implies the need of constant research and development effort on the application, and demands for stable developers who can sustain multiple iterations of software development cycles. Web 2.0 design is not just a one-off initiative. Consequently, as a pre-requisite for successful Web 2.0 application deployment, there must be a constant technology support.

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5.5 On-going contents support

Contents providers and the Internet are like water and the pipelines. The content-conduit simile describes another important contributing factor for successful implementation of Web 2.0 applications. The more water the pipes can carry and further it can reach, the more useful they are. One of the Web 2.0 design patterns is the concept of “Data is the Next Intel Inside” (Alexander cited in O'Reilly 2005). Referring to the importance of data within Web 2.0 application, this statement also denotes the core value of such applications is on the data or contents they process.

Yet in the context of English learning, the provision of relevant contents may have to rely on limited reputable sources. Textbook publishers and the local media dominate this niche. User originated contents, sharable in the Web 2.0 approach, may be very limited. 6

Buyers Influences

The second major force is from the buyers of the Web 2.0 services, i.e., the perceptions from the students, parents, teachers, schools and the educational authorities, and specific issues from them. 

Perception of usability from students, parents teachers and schools

Technical competency of learners and instructors

Collaborative learning conditions

Integration into formal curriculum

Fulfillment of long-term educational goals and mandates of the Government or educational authorities

6.1 Perception of usability from students, parents teachers and schools

The perceived value on the usability of Web 2.0 services is crucial to a successful implementation. In US, a research illustrated how the problem of digital divide has transformed from accessing the Internet to differing contexts of interaction (Warschauer, Stone & Knobel cited by Clark 2007). The research discovered those schools that support students e-learning, interaction between children and technology were often “drill and skill” activities or remedial instruction as opposed to providing contexts for more critical engagement.

Socializing platforms like Facebook and MySpace are often seen as unproductive service, virtual worlds are often mistaken as MMORPG games, NDM or flash based media as an

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alternate platform of entertainment. Even when mobile phones have long become a universal versatile tool in Hong Kong, sending SMS during class are still often seen as nonconformance to school conducts. It is hard for the students to truly believe that their school is actually embracing technology and recognizing new ways of communications. It is a paradigm shift for students, teachers and schools to appreciate Web 2.0 – that the associated technologies and media are not simply new application or service, but a change to the attitude how learning can be done through collaboration, self-exploration, and participation. 6.2 Technical competency of learners and instructors

Mentioned earlier in Section 6.1, the digital divide is moving away from accessing the Internet to differing contexts of interaction, i.e., participation. Here in Hong Kong, with nearly all children and youths being able to connect to the Internet with access to computers at schools or at home, tech-savvy learners may achieve a considerably different learning outcome through the use of Web 2.0 e-learning services than those who are on average. Their ability to participate and produce better quality authentic materials would differ. For techsavvy learners, their willingness to participate continuously is likely to be reinforced, but not in the case for others as their unsatisfactory experience using the technology keep going on may actually discourage them from using it forever – a up-spiral and a down-spiral effect.

Likewise, tech-savvy instructors may provide more inspiration to the learners through demonstration of the e-learning service. Smith (2005) reminds all instructors that we “should open [ourselves] and learn as much from [our] students as they will learn from one another and from [us]”. Instructors should be mindful that e-learning in Web 2.0 is a rather personalized endeavor, and should not expect the same learning outcomes can be achieved for all learners. 6.3 Collaborative learning conditions

When we design a new e-learning service, does it support collaborative learning as a value deep-rooted in Web 2.0 technology? As mentioned in the last section, the willingness of participation greatly matters to achieving fruitful learning outcomes in Web 2.0 e-learning services. Such kind of participatory culture, as defined by Jenkins (cited by Bosco 2009), is “characterized by membership in online groups with few or no entry barriers, the creation of intellectual or artistic products by non-credentialed individuals or groups, collaborative problem solving, the ability to form or join general or specialized social networks, and the capability to disseminate artistic and intellectual products easily and effectively”.

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In consequence, we as instructors should foster such culture amongst the learners. Being also the e-learning service designers, we should be conscious of the easiness and effectiveness of allowing learners to create and share their artifacts. 6.4 Integration into formal curriculum

Greenfield & Jean Lave (Clark 2007) draw distinctions between formal and informal learning environments (Table 3). OECD (2009) defined formal learning as “always organised and structured, and has learning objectives. From the learner’s standpoint, it is always intentional: i.e. the learner’s explicit objective is to gain knowledge, skills and/or competences,” and vice versa for informal learning. Apparently the two are completely incompatible learning styles, however, Bersin (2009) asserts that in order to make informal learning works within an organization to produce high-impact and cost-effectiveness, the organization must “formally adopt” informal learning. OECD recognizes such a mid-point in the continuum as “nonformal learning”. Distinction

Informal Education

Formal Education

Context

Embedded in daily life

set apart from the everyday

Responsibility

Learner obtains knowledge voluntarily

teacher imparting knowledge and skills

Intimacy

Personal instruction

teachers of no relation

Curriculum

Little pedagogy

explicit curricula

Continuity

Value placed on tradition

emphasis on change and discontinuity

Mode of Learning

Observation and imitation

Verbal exchange and questioning

Mode of Instruction

Teaching via demonstration

Teaching by verbal presentation and questioning

Social Motivation

Motivated by social contribution

Less strong social motivation.

Table 3. Distinctions between Formal Education and Informal Education (Greenfield & Lave, cited by Clark 2007)

Both informal and formal learning occur daily side-by-side. There is little argument to debate the superiority of the two. Rather than replacing the other, the two styles actually complement to each other. Web 2.0 approach and NDM, should not be bound by providing an education experience that fits everybody. Although we concur to Weigel, James & Gardner (2009) that the “determination of proper level of scaffolding can be difficult in the case of informal learning”, without which, a clear learning outcome will never be accomplished. As we are moving towards a learner-centric approach in Web 2.0, perhaps scaffolding has to be personalized as well and should not be bound to a formal curriculum without any choices and variations.

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6.5 Fulfillment of long-term educational goals and mandates of the Government or educational authorities

The Education Bureau has established a “Working Group on Development of Textbooks and E-learning Resources” in late 2008. This is a policy consulting group that makes recommendations to the introduction of e-textbooks and other alternative, plus the study on the role of textbooks in support of students’ learning in the context of curriculum reform. (HKSAR 2008). A spokesman of the Bureau said this year the Government “will adopt a gradual and progressive approach to promote [e-learning]. This statement ties, to some extent, to the learning objective “IT in Education” in the formal school curriculum. In recent years, the Bureau is also promoting among teachers to write blogs for facilitating language learning (EDB 2007). In view of these positive actions from the Government, we would expect schools to have more impetus to promote e-learning within campus. 7

Entrance Barrier Influences

The third influencing force is the entrance barrier. It includes both tangible and intangible resources and conditions that preclude a school from adopting Web 2.0 services. 

Availability of budget / funding

On-going maintenance of contents

Availability of broadband connection and computer resources (at home and at school)

7.1 Availability of budget / funding

Depending on the scale and sophistication of the e-learning application, it may require nothing up to millions of dollars of investment. Small scale Web 2.0 applications like blogging and NDM sharing using public domain available services may cost very little to a school. Yet, any proprietary development takes time and money. The Quality Education Fund (QEF) has been providing financial support to local schools on one-off initiatives. IT related projects have been on the top among the fund applicants. In 2007/8 academic year, 246 out of 503 projects funded were on use of new technology for administrative work, plus 86 more on innovations (QEF 2009). However, many of these projects were related to implementing campus TV, distance learning classroom, smartcard system, or IT infrastructure upgrades. There was only one project about liberal studies using Web 2.0 technologies and ideas (Learning 2.0 discussed in Section 3). Apparently, local schools are lacking behind in the adoption of Web 2.0 even though there is a source of funding available.

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7.2 On-going maintenance of contents

Although due to the collaboration nature of Web 2.0 application, the on-going maintenance of contents is theoretically offloaded to all users or participants, being an instructor, there should be some forms of active involvement in order to promote the use of the application and foster a learning atmosphere. This is both a time and effort issue for teachers whose resources are already thinly sliced for all kind of teaching and administrative work. At the beginning of any new Web 2.0 e-learning service, we should not neglect this on-going effort in the planning. 7.3 Availability of broadband connection and computer resources (at home and at school)

As mentioned earlier in Section 3, virtually all Hong Kong youngsters have access to the Internet. According to OFTA, at end of 2008, there were more than 1.95 million broadband customers, or a 77.7% penetration to all households. Some are using high speed connection up to 1,000 Mbps (HKSAR 2009b). Hong Kong has a world class IT infrastructure, allowing students to access the Internet no matter they are at home or at school. There is no issue to implement any Web 2.0 services with such an excellent infrastructure in place. 8

Substitutes Influences

The next influence comes from any substitute applications, products, services or activities that are as effective as what the Web 2.0 services may bring forth. 

Traditional classroom learning activities

Existing Web 1.0 based technologies, products or services

Self-learning and other Informal Learning outside school

Textbooks

Mass media

8.1 Traditional classroom learning activities

One may asserts, from the discussed examples in Section3, that Web 2.0 e-learning platforms have no drastically difference from traditional classroom learning with the support of PowerPoint, video, textbooks and other teaching materials. From a student perspective, one may even argue there is a lack of real-life touch-and-feel experience by interacting only with computers. Simulation and video programmes, at best can complement, but not replace laboratory experiments and field trips. From the administration angle, there are potential benefits in academic profiling, and centralized administration of learning materials.

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If constructivism is the core of Web2.0, we need to ask by implementing the e-learning platform, will it support students to learn with more self-initiative and collaborative efforts? Will it provide a learning experience, even though with inadequate sensory touch, that constructs scaffolding or conceptual framework for the students further develops their ideas and knowledge? 8.2 Existing Web 1.0 based technologies, products or services

Even in the advent of the Web 2.0 approach, we should not jump to the conclusion that Web 1.0 based technologies, products and services are already out of date. With years of development, there is vast number of online resources. In case of English language learning, local websites tend to be developed by reputable organizations, schools, or publishers. Webquest, for instance, is a database of teaching plans which are all relevant to classroom learning activities regardless it is only using Web 1.0 technology. To unleash the potentials of Web 2.0 technologies in schools and classrooms, we should also consider what existing Web 1.0 applications may complement the final design and solution of the proposed e-learning service. 8.3 Self-learning and other Informal learning outside school

We must not disregard the role of informal learning through participation of community services, student groups or interest groups activities. Although the concept of extending a virtual self on social networking platforms is commonplace among teenagers, these platforms are not the only places for them to mingle and get to know each other. It is arguable that socialization by physical participation actually induces more impact as such participation involves more of our five senses than multi-media which involve only two. The feedback cycles are real time, on the spot with physical cues from peer group members. Unless there is a physical boundary (time or distance) hard to avoid, we consider physical participation is a more effective means of socialization. 8.4 Textbooks

Textbooks and its publishers have a fairly unique role in Hong Kong. Firstly, there are a limited number of academic publishers in town. Secondly, after being recommended by schools, students have virtually no option but to purchase all necessary textbooks. Lastly, due to the highly examination focus teaching and learning, the so-called “official answers� have to be originated from the textbooks. In consequence, students often treat their textbooks as the only reading sources, and have neglected there are alternatives. Publishers may be considered dictating or at least heavily influencing the domain of knowledge where a learner may pursue.

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The role of e-textbooks and online reading material, so far, are considered as supplementary only in local primary and secondary schools. With the formal establishment of a consulting group on e-textbooks by the Education Bureau, we would anticipate changes in the near future. 8.5 Mass media

Recent advancement of technologies has made possible traditional mass media – press, television, radio to be presented in a different channel or platform. Media Convergence is happening fast as more new digital presentation platforms, like mobile phones, Internet, games machines, are available. A local survey in 2002 ranked the World Wide Web, Mobile Telephone, Multimedia Computer, and Communication Satellite as technologies best representing media convergence (Wilkinson 2002). Although forbidden in Hong Kong, media ownership is also converging in a worldwide scene (like Viacom, AOL Time Warner). The role of the media is no longer bounded by one-way broadcasting but now able to solicit twoway feedbacks via Internet messaging, online polling, forum discussion and so on. In a liberal society like Hong Kong, this B2C (business to consumer) relationship is as important and authentic as P2P (peers to peers) relationships. Designing a new Web 2.0 e-learning service should consider the input of the reputable mass media. 9

Rivalry Influences

Lastly, we must not neglect the rivalry influence, or competition of resources within the school. Naturally, e-learning is not the only initiative happening at school. Competition of resources can come within the school boundary.

9.1 Competition of resources from various school activities

School budget on IT investment often faces competition from other activities originated from school administration and operation. Even though there is a Quality Education Fund for all public and subsidized schools in Hong Kong to apply all year round, internal resources, like teachers and facilities may not be readily available. Except the larger chains, this situation is often worse in private tutorial schools due to their small scale of operation.

Besides, e-learning is only part of all learning activities. There is a competition on time as students engaging other classroom and extra-curricular activities. Furthermore, even if all resources are available, school culture and different degree of acceptance towards e-learning may affect the priority of resource allocation. We must admit holistic development of students takes more than simply e-learning.

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10 Learning English in Hong Kong

Near 95% of the population is ethnic Chinese and 91% speaks Cantonese at home in 2006. Between the ages of 10 to 19, more than 77% speaks more than one language (C&SD 2007). Although there is no further details what languages they master, we can presume a mass majority speak English of some extents due to the bilingual policy of the local education system. With such a demographics, one would expect learning English in the post colonial era Hong Kong has its unique issues not seen in inner circle of English speaking countries (like UK, US, Canada or Australia) where English is the first language for the majority of the population, or outer circle area (like India or the Philippines) where English has a secondary language status, but approaching to the extending circle area (like China or Japan) where English is only regarded as a foreign language.6 Yet, with the upholding of the medium of instruction policy and bi-lingual policy treating English as a second language, the issue of English learning becomes a bit more complicated in this near mono-cultural and mono-ethnic city.

In the academic year 2008/09, there are some 112 Anglo-Chinese secondary schools in Hong Kong using English as the medium of instructions. Some of the more prominent ones are able to churn out students mastering English language at near first language proficiency. However, for the rest of 415 secondary schools, English proficiency of their students varies extensively. In a 2006 survey, a snapshot was taken in a “typical” local secondary school. Some students have expressed concern in learning English as a second language (L2) (Kong, Westwood & Yuen 2006). While there is no concrete details of the sources of concerns, the New Secondary School (NSS) curriculum that will be implemented to the senior secondary school years by the next academic year (2009/10) have not addressed the L2 variety and continue to regard English language as a second language.

Perhaps, there is a continuum among Hong Kong students where English learning can be from ESL to EFL and somewhere in between. Lin (1997) has even asserted that English is a “socioeconomically dominant language”, that it is “closer to ESL for bilingual, middle class people and EFL for monolingual, working class people” in Hong Kong. Hong Kong while shedding its British colonial legacy, is trying to reposition itself as “Asia’s World City”. The role of English as a secondary language (L2), may in the future, turn into Global English. As Bolton (2000) predicted, there will be “un-English sociolinguistic

6

Inner, outer and extended circle area concept from Bolton (2000).

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context”, and the language will become “un-canonical” with little ties to European culture but more from the local context and culture. 11 Suggestion of a Web 2.0 based e-learning platform

With the unique situation in learning English in Hong Kong, we shall propose a Web 2.0 based online video chatting forum for Hong Kong secondary schools. Based on their L2 proficiency, age and other demographics, Hong Kong students are paired up with foreign English speakers by a matching service. Discussion will be conducted via Internet messaging or by video chatting, augmented by reading materials, video clips from the public domain and the mass media.

To promote authenticity of the contexts, these materials will have to be previously screened and maintained within a database of the forum. Proper planning upfront will make sure there is adequate scaffolding in place for the students develop their language skills. Topics will centre around themes relevant to teenagers and recent happenings in the city, as well as interests and hobbies around the world that would stimulates thoughts and ideas.

Furthermore, to address the L2 proficiency issue, foreign speakers are invited from cities like Toronto or Vancouver where there is a huge immigrant population originated from Hong Kong.7 Prime instructors will be those second generation from immigrants families now residing there. Apart from having fun during the matchmaking, it will also decrease the entrance barrier for the students here in Hong Kong to communicate with limited L2 proficiency and yet maintaining a flow of dialogue. For the foreign speakers, they may introduce their lifestyle change and daily lives in a different culture that have so many traits common to Hong Kong but significantly richer in the use of English. 7

During the peak of brain-drain in the mid-1980s to late 1990s, hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong

residents had immigrated to a foreign country where English is spoken as a first language. Canada alone had absorbed over 730,000 immigrants from Hong Kong during 1980 to 2001 (Li 2003). Although it is widely believed that a significant proportion of these immigrants have returned Hong Kong (Ley & Kobayashi 2004), there is still a vibrant Hong Kong immigrant society in cities like Toronto and Vancouver. These immigrants maintain close ties to Hong Kong, yet immerse in an environment with English being the first language. With now more than 20 years of development and the second generation grown up, these immigrant societies have developed into a “near culture” that blends lifestyles from both Canada and Hong Kong. The second generation, born and brought up in Canada, has an English language proficiency far better than peers in Hong Kong yet generally still able to maintain a fair to good understanding of Hong Kong situations due to their family ties. This generation will be our prime targets as English learning partners for students in Hong Kong.

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Much like other social networking platforms, the more partners are matched up, the better would be the communication. Language skills are likely to enhance faster as the learner being able to communicate with more peers. Network effect may grow exponentially as a result.

We are suggesting the use of only off-the-shelf Web 2.0 technology, therefore reducing the risk of unstable or immature technologies or tools. Furthermore, it lowers the learning curve of the users as probably they may have come across other applications that utilize the same tools.

Figure 15. Mock-up screens for the Web 2.0 based online video chatting forum.

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12 Conclusion

We see potentials of applying Web 2.0 and NDM to education and English language learning in Hong Kong. With a well-developed IT infrastructure and the availability of human, financial and technical resources in the city, there is little concern to develop world class e-learning service.

There are unique situations for teenager English language learners in town. No matter they are intrinsic issues of the learners, or external environmental factors from the school, the education system or historical reasons, they are directly influencing how Web 2.0 may be successfully deployed. To summarize, the identified influencing factors according to Porter’s Five Competitive Forces Model are portrayed in Figure 16. The push and pull forces from the five areas are equally important, yet without the buy-ins of the students, parents, teachers and schools, nothing can be materialized.

Figure 16. Forces influencing the adoption of Web 2.0 technology in schools in Hong Kong.

The main essence of Web 2.0 and NDM is collaboration. Socialization is the very first step to build communities of practices that foster collaboration which in turn supports informal learning. We see links how informal learning can tie into formal learning through the four steps Socialization, Externalization, Combination and Internalization. Yet, there are prerequisites for implementing Web 2.0 in classrooms. In particular there must a paradigm shift on passing the responsibility of learner to the learners themselves. Learner-centric approach demands the students to be in-charge of what to learn at when and how. The pedagogy must involve proper scaffolding so as knowledge can be constructed rather than be conveyed.

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We also discussed the pitfalls of virtual world in Hong Kong. For what being successful in the West, sometimes might not work by simply cloning the look and feel. There are fundamental designs and values underneath which may not be easily replicated without any cultural impact or personal value adjustments.

Lastly we have illustrated a proposal of a Web 2.0 video chatting service for the teenage English learners. Addressing the unique historic and demographic situations, and the diverse L2 proficiency among all learners, we suggest matching up learners with foreign speakers living in a inner-circle English speaking country where there are a lot of Hong Kong second generation immigrants residing. Although this project does not include the physical implementation, we see merits and potential benefits of having the video chatting service in place.ď Ž

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13 Reference Bersin (2009), “Informal Learning becomes Formal”, Bersin and Associates, http://joshbersin.com/2009/01/21/informallearning-becomes-formal/, 2009. Bolton K. (2000), “The Sociolinguistics of Hong Kong and the Space for Hong Kong English”, World Englishes:Crit Con Ling V2, Routledge, Chapter 44, 2004. Bosco J. (2009), “Participatory Culture and Schools: Can We Get There From Here?”, Threshold, Spring 2009, pp 12-15, www.ciconline.org/threshold C&SD (2007), “Announcement of Summary Results of the 2006 Population By-census”, Census and Statistics Department, Hong Kong SAR Government, http://www.bycensus2006.gov.hk/FileManager/EN/Content_941/06bc_speech_eng.pdf, 2006. C&SD (2008), “Hong Kong Annual Digest of Statistics 2008”, Census and Statistics Department, Hong Kong SAR Government, http://www.censtatd.gov.hk/freedownload.jsp?file=publication/general_stat_digest/B10100032008AN08B0700.pdf &title=Hong+Kong+Annual+Digest+of+Statistics&issue=2008+Edition&lang=1, 2008. Clark K. (2007), “Charting Transformative Practice: Critical Multiliteracies Via Informal Learning Design”, University of California San Diego. EDB (2007), “Applying Teacher’s Blog to Language Learning”, Weblog and English Focus Working Group, Information Technology in Education Section, Education Bureau, Hong Kong SAR Government, http://www.edb.gov.hk/FileManager/EN/Content_1619/teacher%20blog.pdf, 2007. EDB (2007a), “Software Developed by ITE Section”, IT in Education, Education Bureau, Hong Kong SAR Government, http://www.edb.gov.hk/FileManager/EN/Content_1619/packages_e.pdf, accessed August 3 2009. EDB (2009a), “School-based Curriculum Development in Primary Schools”, Kindergarten Primary and Secondary School Education, Education Bureau, Hong Kong SAR Government, http://www.edb.gov.hk/index.aspx?nodeID=2864&langno=1, assessed August 3 2009. Geytere T. (2009), “SECI Model – Nonaka and Takeuchi”, 12Manage – The Executive Fast Track, http://www.12manage.com/methods_nonaka_seci.html, accessed July 29 2009. Go2Web (2009), “Web 2.0 Tools and Applications”, Go2web20.net , http://www.go2web20.net/, accessed July 28 2009 HKFYC (2009), “青少年網上行為調查” (Survey on Internet activities of local youth), The Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups, http://www.cybersafety.hk/survey.php, 2009. HKSAR (2008), “Press Release: Working group to look at development of textbooks and e-learning resources”, Hong Kong SAR Government, http://www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/200810/16/P200810160222.htm, October 16 2008. HKSAR (2009), “Gradual e-learning development adopted”, news.gov.hk, Hong Kong Information Services Department, Hong Kong SAR Government, http://www.news.gov.hk/en/category/atschool/090425/html/090425en02002.htm, April 25 2009 HKSAR (2009b), “Hong Kong: The Facts -- Telecommunications”, Hong Kong SAR Government, http://www.gov.hk/en/about/abouthk/factsheets/docs/telecommunications.pdf. 2009 HKU (2009), “Learning 2.0: an Online Platform and a Teacher Support Network for Curriculum and Assessment Innovation in Liberal Studies in the NSS Curriculum”, Centre for Information Technology in Education, Faculty of Education, Hong Kong University, http://citers2009.cite.hku.hk/ppt/day2am_ylee.pdf, 2009. HKUPOP (2005), “Survey on Young Adult's Behavior and Perception towards Internet”, Hong Kong University Public Opinion Programme website, http://hkupop.hku.hk/. Kong L,, Westwood P. & M. Yuen (2006), “School-related Worries of Adolescents in Hong Kong: A Single School Study”, Special Education Society of Hong Kong Limited, www.seshk.org.hk/Forum/Forum-2006/forum8102.pdf, 2007. Ley D. & Kobayashi A. (2004), “Back to Hong Kong: Return migration or transnational sojourn?”, University of Columbia and Queen’s University, http://www.instrcc.ubc.ca/History485_2008/Ley_Kobayashi.pdf, August 2004.

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Li P. (2003), “The Rise and Fall of Chinese Immigration to Canada: Newcomers from Hong Kong and Mainland China, 1980-2000”, University of Saskatchewan, http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~salaff/conference/papers/RiseFallPaper_Li_2.pdf Lin A. (1997), “Hong Kong’s Children Rights to Culturally Compatible English Education”, Hong Kong Journal of Applied Linguistics, Vol. 2, No. 2, 1997 O’Reilly T. & Battelle J. (2009), “Web Squared: Web 2.0 Five Years On”, Web Squared White Paper, Web 2.0 Submit, http://assets.en.oreilly.com/1/event/28/web2009_websquared-whitepaper.pdf OECD (2009), “Recognition of Non-formal and Informal Learning Methodology”, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, http://www.oecd.org/document/25/0,3343,en_2649_39263238_37136921_1_1_1_1,00.html, accessed August 7 2009. O'Reilly T. (2005), “What Is Web 2.0 - Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software”, O’Reilly Media, September 30 2005, http://oreilly.com/web2/archive/what-is-web-20.html QEF (2009), “Project Statistics”, Quality Education Fund, http://qef.org.hk/eng/main.htm?proj_sum/proj_sum02.htm, 2009. Smith T (2005), “Fifty-One Competencies for Online Instruction”, Axia College, Western International University, The Journal of Educators Online, Vol. 2, No. 2, July 2005. Tschang C (2008), “Not Much Life in China's Virtual Worlds”, Business Week, http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/may2008/tc2008055_089117.htm, May 5 2008. Twinity (2009), “Glossary”, Twinity website, http://www.twinity.com/en/glossary, accessed August 5 2009. UOneNet (2009), “What sort of virtual world do we need?” (我們到底需要甚麼樣的 3D 虛擬世界?), UOneNet, http://www.uonenet.com/uonenet/cn/service/showNews.html?page=uonenet/cn/News/0000000100000746.htm, June 22 2009. Weigel M., James C., and Gardner H. (2009). “Learning: Peering Backward and Looking Forward in the Digital Era”, 18 International Journal of Learning and Media , Volume 1, Number 1, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Wenger E. (2004), “Communities of practice: a brief introduction”, Etienne Wenger Home Page, http://www.ewenger.com/theory/index.htm, accessed July 29 2009. Wiki (2008a), “” (A passage a day), Wikipedia, http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E6%AF%8F%E6%97%A5%E4%B8%80%E7%AF%87%E7%B6%B2%E4%B8%8 A%E9%96%B1%E8%AE%80%E8%A8%88%E5%8A%83, accessed July 30 2009. Wiki (2009a), “HiPiHi”,Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hipihi, accessed July 26 2009. Wilkinson J. (2002), “What is Media Convergence? Different Ideas About Technology and Media”, School of Communication, Hong Kong Baptist University, http://www.rthk.org.hk/mediadigest/20030415_76_74280.html#, 2002 Wu M. (2008), “Language Learning Strategy Use of Chinese ESL Learners of Hong Kong – Findings from a Qualitative Study”, Institute of Vocational Education, Hong Kong, Electronic Journal of Foreign Language Teaching 2008, Vol. 5, No. 1, pp. 68–83, http://e-flt.nus.edu.sg/v5n12008/wu.htm Zhang X. et al (2009), “Exploring 3D Virtual World Strategies in the Chinese Environment: An Institutional-Based View”, Proceedings of the 42nd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences – 2009

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14 Appendix 1. Assignment Details

The final assignment requires you to either: a.

Write an essay of 5,000 words outlining a proposal for the incorporation of an e-learning innovation into a course or educational context in which you have taught or with which you are familiar;

b.

Create an e-learning resource, to be uploaded to a url communicated to the lecturer, and accompanied by a statement of approximately 2,000 words explaining its design and describing how it could be integrated into a course or educational context in which you have taught or with which you are familiar.

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15 Appendix 2. Smith’s 51 Competencies For Online Instructors Competency

Before

During

After

1

Act like a learning facilitator rather than a professor

2

Avoid overloading new students at the start of the course

3

Be clear about course requirements

4

Be willing to contact students who are not participating

5

Become a lifelong learner

6

Communicate high expectations

7

Communicate technical information in plain English

8

Create a warm and inviting atmosphere that promotes the development of a sense

of community among participants 9

Create an effective online syllabus—one that lays out the terms of the class

interaction—the expected responsibilities and duties, the grading criteria, the musts and don’ts of behavior, and explains the geography of the course 

10

Deal effectively with disruptive students

11

Define participation and grading criteria

12

Develop reciprocity and cooperation among students

13

Develop relationships

14

Effectively and efficiently manage (administer) the course

15

Effectively use whatever technology has been selected to support online learning

16

Emphasize time on task

17

Encourage contacts between students and faculty

18

Encourage students to bring real-life examples into the online classroom

19

Evaluate ourselves

20

Evaluate students

21

Foster learner centeredness

22

Get students to respect assignment due dates and agreed-upon working times

23

Give prompt feedback

24

Harness the technology

25

Help integrate students into the institution and its culture

26

Help students develop critical thinking skills

27

Help students identify and use appropriate learning techniques

28

Help students identify strengths and areas of needed improvement

29

Keep informed of the latest trends and issues; continually improve your skills and

knowledge 

30

Maintain the momentum of the course

31

Make the transition to the online learning environment

32

Manage student expectations

33

Mandate participation. Step in and set limits if participation wanes or if the

conversation is headed in the wrong direction 34

Model good participation

32


Competency

Before

During

35

Network with others involved in online education

36

Prepare students for online learning

37

Promote collaborative learning

38

Promote reflection

39

Provide structure for students but allow for flexibility and negotiation

40

Remember that there are people attached to the words on the screen

41

Respect diverse talents and ways of learning

42

Respect institutional performance guidelines

43

Respect privacy issues

44

Set up a well-organized course site

45

Teach students about online learning

46

Translate content for online delivery

47

Use active learning techniques

48

Use best practices to promote participation

49

Use humor

50

Use the web as a resource

51

Most of all, have fun and open yourself to learning as much from your students as

After

 

they will learn from one another and from you!

Table 4. Competencies for online instructors, noting whether the competency will be of primary importance before, during and/or after the course (Smith 2005).

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Web 2.0 e-learning Services in Hong Kong: A Current Snapshot  

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