2016 has had its ups and downs, but one of the highlights of this year has been the Learning and Teaching Expo held December 8-10 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. Organised by Hong Kong Education City and fully supported by the Education Bureau of the HKSAR Government, the trade show is a place where educators, suppliers, and governmental organisations can explore all the latest developments in learning technologies and other educational resources that may become commonplace in the years to come.
“In the global school rankings report published last year by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Hong Kong was ranked second in the world and was shown to have a progressive approach to technology in the classroom,” said Stuart Bailey, the Managing Director of Diversified Communications. “The Learning and Teaching Expo provides an important platform that facilitates international exchanges on education.” He also noted that, as the Expo enters its seventh year, they are seeing an increase in overseas education experts, organisations and resources suppliers. Here are four of the coolest inventions from this year’s Learning & Teaching Expo that may soon be coming to a classroom near you.
The ability to print anything you want – almost quite literally – in class is closer than you’d think. 3D printers are becoming more common now than they were even a year or two ago, and are becoming more cost-effective to produce. One company, Well Link Industries, is offering to provide schools with a fully functional 3D printer that the students would be able to use. The Wexler printer uses a new printing concept with dual extrusion, which is basically means it’s a more efficient type of 3D printing. The potentials of 3D printing are endless: in geography class, you could print out a cross-section of the Earth to show the many layers underneath the surface; in chemistry class, you could make a 3D model of a molecule; in art class, you could print out your very own sculpture.
There’s a well-known Chinese joke that if Confucius were to be resurrected and brought to the present day, the only thing he would be able to recognise would be the school system. Modern schools often rely on teaching systems that have been remained the same for thousands of years. One idea from the Learning & Teaching Expo might spell an end to this though. One model that has been buzzing around in the education community has been the idea of a “flipped” or inverted classroom. That means that rather than having the teacher do most of the talking, the students would lead discussions and activities, supervised by the teacher. Hong Kong Education City used the Expo to showcase their Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), which can be used by teachers that are seeking to flip their classrooms. Not only would it help students manage their own learning content, the cloud-based VLE system would allow teachers to coordinate assessment, collaboration, and provide feedback sessions to each other or together. Just think – that means no more falling asleep during your teacher’s 90-minute lecture (that seems so, so much longer).
In 2014 Startups Hong Kong published statistics that showed that in Hong Kong, newly graduated engineers can expect to receive a starting salary of HK$15,000 per month, and that advanced engineers can earn up to HK$80,000 per month. It’s no surprise then that, given the high level of pay one might eventually be earning, more and more students have shown interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects. The Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups is offering their own take on STEM learning with their LEAD programme, which they are touting as a gateway into the world of engineering and research for younger primary and high school students. Their programme focuses on the use of robots and Arduino – an open-source platform used for building electronics projects – to teach computational thinking.
You’ve seen the gradual growth of virtual reality (VR) in video games, YouTube videos, and advertisements, and now they are being applied in the classroom too. One company, known as Octopus InfoTech Limited, has launched their brand of “Super VR Lessons”, which can provide content for Hong Kong primary and secondary schools using an interactive eLearning System. Schools can also develop their own content with an iCanvas classroom platform. The applications of VR not only include full immersion, but also creation – imagine not only standing on a battlefield as you learn about a war, but also participating in it as well. Talk about really getting into the mind of a soldier!