New partnership between teachers and librarians in re-designing educational experience

Image source: Unsplash

As a keen supporter of innovative teaching and learning, the University Libraries piloted a number of initiatives since the opening of its flagship facility Ingenium ( in 2019. Partnering with teachers from different disciplines, the Library has brought students fresh educational experience through transformative learning environments and technology-enriched services.

Fig 1 - Immersive VR experience for a class in the Libraries’ learning space
Fig 1 - Immersive VR experience for a class in the Libraries’ learning space

Riding on a wide range of new hardware and software available at Ingenium, the Library collaborated with teachers to integrate emerging educational technology such as artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR) and Internet of Things (IoT) into their course design and class delivery. Unique digitized collections developed/sourced by the Libraries were also adopted in some courses to enrich the contents and learning experience. The partnership has incubated a number of well received projects and classes featuring hybrid teaching and learning.

An exemplary case was the Common Core course CCST9068 ‘Artificial Intelligence: Utopia or Dystopia?’. Three cohorts of students with a class size of 120 students had in-person or virtual tours of Ingenium in the 2019/20 to 2021/22 academic years. During the onsite or Zoom tutorials, students experienced AI tools for vision/voice/image recognition, eye tracking to motion detection and learnt how they could be applied in real life. The participants not only found the activities interesting but also very useful. The experience and knowledge will hopefully inspire them to explore the application of these tools in studies and problem solving in their academic or future career.

Fig 2 - AR application using historical photos from the Libraries' Digital Repository
In another collaboration with the Common Core, Faculty of Medicine, and a theatre production company, the library team assisted in the curation of an immersive theatre with a group of 13 HKU students telling a story about pandemic history of Hong Kong as part of a health education program. To provide participants immersive experience during the tour of historical sites concerned, the production team applied outdoor 360 video taking and showcased some historical photos from the Libraries’ Digital Repository ( using Augmented Reality (AR). Students not only enhanced their digital and information literacy through manipulation of new technologies and library collections in the production but also nurtured their ability in synthesizing multiple literacies in the creation process.

In the midst of pandemic outbreak, the library team also offered support to course ARTH 2108 ‘Emerging societies: An introduction to Mesopotamian archaeology’ in the format of VR contents integration and loaning of VR headsets for virtual course delivery on the Metaverse. Students could continue their learning in the virtual archaeological site constructed jointly by the teaching and library teams using data collected from the real site. This innovative attempt proved to be very timely and effective in experimenting with the potential of technology in overcoming different types of challenges in education.

The partnership developed in the above collaborations formed the foundation of a new initiative, namely the GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums) Lab in the University ( With the existing facilities of Ingenium and experience gained by the library team, this framework will further extend the contents cultural collections that can be integrated into virtual teaching and learning. It is hoped that the GLAM Lab will evolve as an experimental ground for incubation of both team projects and individual works to advocate the creative use of digital collections and tools in the campus community.

Dr. Esther Woo

Dr. Esther Woo

Director of Library Services,
University Libraries, HKU

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