Editorial – Online learning continued: Engaging and partnering with students – Tracy Zou

Because of CoVID-19, teachers and students around the world have found themselves being forced to have classes online. The University of Hong Kong (HKU) announced on 31 March 2020 that all face-to-face teaching would be delayed for two weeks in view of the rapid development of the virus. The online learning mode was then extended to cover almost the entire Spring semester 2019-2020.

While being pushed to conduct online learning, many HKU teachers have tried their best to make the most out of the experience. A half-day virtual forum entitled Online T&L 2019-20: the HKU experience held via Zoom on 11 May 2020 has honoured some of the most exciting first-hand experiences (https://www.cetl.hku.hk/forum2020/). A series of videos on technology-enhanced learning (https://www.cetl.hku.hk/tel/videos/) has captured both the experiences and the lessons learned. Meanwhile, HKU students have taken numerous initiatives to maximise their online learning experiences with the virtual Common Core Student Learning Festival (https://commoncore.hku.hk/slf1920s2/) held on 13 May 2020 as a great example showing students’ enthusiasm, reflexivity, and resilience.

We therefore have dedicated the current issue (Issue 12) of Teaching and Learning Connections to acknowledge both emerging online teaching practices and students’ agency in enhancing their own learning. Hence, this issue is entitled Online learning continued: Engaging and partnering with students. Below shows a brief introduction to each article.

Let students take the LEAD as partners in learning and teaching by Alice Lee and Phoebe Woo (student) nicely illustrates the current theme of engaging and partnering with students. The student-staff partnership in the Faculty of Law has fruitfully resulted in a Legal Education Aligned with Diversity (LEAD) initiative with appealing online learning resources co-created by students and teachers.

Intercultural research-based learning through virtual inter-institutional exchange: Experiences during Covid-19 by Patrick Leung and Matt Ragas (DePaul University, USA) reports a virtual exchange between HKU and DePaul University specifically designed to enhance intercultural and global learning. All the synchronous and asynchronous sessions have been carefully delivered to enable students to conduct intercultural research with their peers from the partner institution.

From silos to teamwork: Adapting interprofessional education to online hybrid asynchronous and synchronous model for HKU by Fraide Ganotice and George Tipoe illustrates how the interprofessional education team across a number of disciplines at HKU has taken on the most challenging mission in online learning: Online interdisciplinary teamwork. A systematic process has been developed to facilitate online teamwork that encourages students from different disciplines to discuss with and learn from one another.

Constructing and delivering effective feedback for students by Olivia Leung (Winner of the inaugural student-led Teaching Feedback Award in 2017/2018) shares her practices of providing feedback to students in an online environment. To Olivia, the content embedded in the feedback to students in this challenging time extends beyond academic knowledge to the management of energy, time, and stress.

MOOCs as part of your COVID-19 crisis plan by Gina Marchetti, Aaron Han Joon Magnan-Park, and Staci Ford offers a number of promising MOOC-based solutions to the sudden shift to online learning. According to the authors, a creative and flexible use of MOOCs can enrich online learning with limited available resources.

While we acknowledge good online learning practices during CoVID-19, we are aware that not all learning online was fruitful and satisfactory and that some students and teachers have indeed endured frustrations and stresses. Using this e-newsletter platform for discussion and reflection, we hope to infuse positive energy into the HKU community and encourage our colleagues and students to stay strong and resilient.

Would you like to share with us your opinion?
We are looking forward to hearing your opinions. Please email your views to us (tracyzou@hku.hk) or simply voice your opinion in the Poll through one click.

Would you like to contribute to future issues of Teaching and Learning Connections?
Please express your ideas through emails to tracyzou@hku.hk. I am happy to discuss with you and assist you in the publication process.

Preview of the next issue (Issue 13)
Issue 13 to be published in September-October, 2020 will continue to acknowledge emerging good practices in online teaching and learning and possibly cover another topic, which will make the issue a combined one again. More information about Issue 13 will be announced during the summer semester of 2019-2020.

Stay tuned with us.

Alice Lee
Dr. Tracy Zou

Editor of ‘Teaching and Learning Connections’
Assistant Professor
Centre for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning
The University of Hong Kong

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