Wi-Fi is wanting

Wi-Fi is wanting

Experts call for broader access to e-learning sites in schools

A lack of Wi-Fi connections may hinder the development of e-learning in the city. Even as many schools are pushing for e-learning, the lack of Wi-Fi systems may not allow them to do so. That's according to a survey by the eLearning Consortium, an organisation that promotes e-learning.

It found that 54 per cent of schools surveyed hope to introduce the "one computer for each" e-learning plan next year; yet more than 80 per cent of the schools in the city do not have the required Wi-Fi network to support e-learning. There are nearly 20,000 classrooms without Wi-Fi.

The group says each school would need HK$300,000 to HK$400,000 to install Wi-Fi in classrooms. Erwin Huang, chair of the consortium, said he hoped 80 per cent of Hong Kong schools could use e-learning by 2016. "I think the government should provide funding for schools to install Wi-Fi, and at the same time, subsidise families with financial problems to help them buy tablet computers to make wider e-learning possible," he said.

E-learning has widely been regarded by teachers as an effective learning tool. However, well-functioning Wi-Fi systems are essential to allow students to access data at will.

But there are concerns that some students may use the Wi-Fi system for non-academic purposes, such as playing online computer games. The availability of an internet connection may distract them from classes. As a solution, it is suggested teachers grant students access to Wi-Fi networks only at designated times and restrict the use of non-educational websites by blocking them in class.

Kenny Chan, 18, a student from HKFYG Lee Shau Kee College, said he supported the monitoring of Wi-Fi networks. "Wi-Fi is important because students need it to surf the Net," he said. "But there can be cases of abuse. Our school's Wi-Fi system is locked so only teachers and staff can get access to it. They can restrict access to [non-e-learning] websites."

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