Views on the Future Information Technology Development as set out in the Chief Executive's 1997 Policy Address

City University is supportive of the Chief Executive's vision of making Hong Kong a leader, not a follower in the information age. In particular, we greatly appreciate the IT education strategy which aims at promoting the use of IT to enhance teaching and learning. Nevertheless, we would like to put in some of our observations and comments as follows :-

1. Leadership

Leaders play an important role to the success of any project. It is noted that the Government is thinking of assigning a Bureau Secretary to be in charge of the IT-related responsibilities, but it is not clear if an official be dedicated in implementing the IT education strategy. We strongly advocate that such a leader is essential and that he/she should have a strong background on IT as well as education, and be given sufficient support in terms of power and resources.

On the other hand, the Government will have to demonstrate its enthusiasm in the use of IT. Communicating within the Government and with schools in an electronic way is just one of the many possibilities.

2. Maintaining the IT Environment Up-to-date

IT has been evolving very rapidly. Hardware are phased out shortly after they are introduced to the users and so are software. The issues of upgrading the IT environment for hundreds of schools up-to-date should not be overlooked. Not only cost is the issue; timeliness, training and support are of equal concerns.

3. Training

Our experience in training users to employ IT for teaching or daily work reveals that not every user has the aptitude for IT. Like general teaching therefore, training would better be done in different levels, with more basic literacy skills to all and in-depth advanced topics to those who can master the IT concepts and skills. Quality training is important.

To make training effective, there should be a link between IT equipment and training. Teachers will be upset when they cannot practise the skill learnt since their schools do not have the piece of equipment or tools.

Some sort of incentive schemes may increase teachers' interest in developing IT to enhance teaching and learning. Career advancement is one possibility; provision of IT equipment for use at home is another. How about letting teachers be released from work on the days that are solely for IT training?

4. Technical Support

Teachers will not be benefited if they are only given training without technical support during the application of IT in teaching. An IT Education Resource Centre to support the management of school IT systems could hardly render sufficient technical support to all the schools in Hong Kong. Technical support centres have to be established locally in schools if we really want the investment in the training to be cost-effective. The IT Education Resource Centre could play more the coordinating role to ensure the support in various schools for different purposes are sufficient.

5. Curriculum on IT

It has been observed that programming has long been the emphasis in secondary school curriculum. Given the current development of IT and the plan to introduce IT to primary schools as well, maybe it is time to review the curriculum. We consider it appropriate to train students how to use IT as a tool and let them be computer literate at their early days. In this connection, the idea of introducing pilot schemes in 20 schools to establish best practices for IT applications in teaching and learning is well supported.

6. Financial Support to Students

Despite the planned increase in the number of computers in each primary or secondary school, there still will not be ample time for each student to get hold of one for in-depth learning. Should students feel the need of learning more but not be able to buy one at home, it is hoped that the Government would consider establishing a scheme to help them, say an interest-free loan scheme. This issue has long been discussed for university students who have the genuine need to have a computer at home for working with their assignments. Yet it is still unresolved.

7. Employment of External IT Consultants & Expertise

Indeed it is an ambitious plan to enhance the use of IT in education. To do it well, it is recommended to employ external consultants and expertise in various phases. Ideally they will come from various sectors so that decisions will not be biased and what students has learned will be more related to society.

City University has long been recognized as an institution that uses high technology in teaching. Our undergraduate courses are also designed to bring to the students what IT can do in their areas of study. For example, our BA (Hons) in Language Information Science degree course was launched with the mission to produce graduates who are knowledgeable in the latest technological developments related to Hong Kong's growing language information needs. We are excited at the Chief Executive's policy of promoting IT in education, and would like to share with the IT Bureau our experience whenever the Bureau sees it appropriate.

17th November 1997

Last Updated on 7 December 1997