LCQ1: Knowing about applications used on Mainland
There are views pointing out that as the National 14th Five-Year Plan clearly supports the development of Hong Kong into an international innovation and technology hub, Hong Kong should better integrate into the overall development of the country and deepen its co-operation with the Mainland in innovation and technology. However, the electronic platforms and mobile applications used on the Mainland are different from those widely used in Hong Kong. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether the Education Bureau will consider including elements of teaching the use of Mainland applications when designing the contents of innovation and technology courses;
(2) whether it has plans to provide teachers with training on the use of and teaching methods for Mainland applications; if so, of the details; if not, whether it will consider establishing a relevant training mechanism; and
(3) whether it will increase the number of internship places on the Mainland for students of tertiary institutions, so as to enable students to gain an early understanding of the usage of applications available on Mainland electronic platforms, and facilitate a smooth interface when they take up jobs in the Mainland cities of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area in the future?
The Education Bureau (EDB) has stepped up the promotion of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics) education in primary and secondary schools to cultivate students' creative thinking and entrepreneurial spirit to support the development of Hong Kong as a global innovation and technology (I&T) hub to dovetail with the National "14th Five-Year Plan", implement the national strategy of invigorating the country through science and education, and foster new growth drivers and new strengths. STEAM education involves the integration of learning areas in science, technology and mathematics, as well as information technology (IT) education and I&T learning for all students to nurture their interest and capabilities in learning IT and I&T from an early age, enabling the younger generation to better cope with future challenges and opportunities, for integration into the overall national development and deepen I&T co-operation with the Mainland.
STEAM education in the school curriculum has always been implemented through the learning of science, technology and mathematics in the classroom. It also involves the application of cross-disciplinary knowledge and skills together with "hands-on and minds-on" activities to solve problems outside the classroom. The EDB continues to incorporate I&T learning elements into both the primary and secondary curricula, such as introducing the "Enriched Module on Coding Education for Upper Primary Level" and "Module on Artificial Intelligence for Junior Secondary Level", and launching the Pilot Scheme on "Enhancing Science and Technology Learning at Upper Primary Level", etc, to continuously strengthen students' scientific thinking and "hands-on and minds-on" ability. At the same time, updating the Information and Communication Technology subject at the senior secondary level to include I&T topics, such as artificial intelligence, with increased lesson time for the teaching of coding. We will continue to promote I&T learning in the future to help students establish a good foundation in innovative technology.
Our reply to Prof the Hon William Wong's question is as follows:
(1) The objective of I&T education is to help students understand the impact of technology on improving daily life and promoting social development, so as to make good use of innovative and information technology to solve problems and enhance computational thinking and creativity. The current Technology Education curriculum covers the basic concepts of information and communication technology and its application in daily life, programming, multimedia production, etc. By learning and applying the use of information and communication applications/e-platforms, students' technological competence can be enhanced. The technology/I&T learning activities inside and outside the classroom help enhance students' competence and confidence in using different IT tools. Coupled with the numerous opportunities to use applications, such as communication software, search engines in daily life, most of the students can master the relevant skills.
With the rapid development of information and communication technology, a wide range of applications/e-platforms with various functions are being launched and updated swiftly. Schools should consider the learning and teaching objectives and students' needs when choosing suitable applications, including those from the Mainland or other countries/regions, for use in lessons. It is noted that visual programming software is used to teach programming in some primary schools, and different Internet browsers and apps, such as Baidu, Weixin, are used for learning and teaching purposes in some secondary schools. At present, different applications used in different regions are already included in the teaching in schools. Therefore, the Bureau will not designate any particular applications or e-platforms for schools.
Furthermore, the EDB provides a large number of exchange and learning places every year, creating opportunities for every secondary and primary student to participate in exchange and study activities on the Mainland and use Mainland information technology tools, such as communication, navigation in authentic contexts. Students' understanding of the I&T development of our country can be enhanced and they will be familiarised with relevant e-platforms and mobile applications through using them.
(2) The EDB attaches great importance to teachers' professional development. To establish a team of teachers who keep abreast of the development of I&T, following the conclusion of the first round of the "Intensive Training Programme on STEM Education" for school leaders in primary and secondary schools in the 2017/18 to 2019/20 school years, another stage of teacher training courses on programming education has started in the 2019/20 school year. Concurrently, starting from the 2020/21 school year, we have launched a new round of intensive training for STEAM co-ordinators and teachers of primary and secondary schools, covering elements related to I&T. The EDB continuously co-operate with different I&T organisations, tertiary institutes and professional bodies to organise I&T-related teacher training and sharing sessions, including introducing various information technology tools, including applications and tools launched on the Mainland or in other countries/regions, for application in learning and teaching to enhance the professional leadership of school leaders in promoting e-learning and deepen teachers' capability of implementing e-learning, as well as using different e-learning tools and resources. We also collaborate with technology companies on the Mainland, such as Sense Time, NetDragon, Da-Jiang Innovations, to organise professional development courses to introduce how different applications and tools, such as e-learning platforms, virtual reality production tools and programmable drones, can enhance learning and teaching effectiveness, and arrange for teachers to visit technology companies on the Mainland to learn about the latest development and application of educational technology in our country. In other words, the use of Mainland applications and their adoption in learning and teaching has been covered in teaching training.
(3) Through experiential activities, students use IT tools in authentic contexts, which is often the most effective way of learning. The EDB implements the "Mainland Experience Scheme for Post-secondary Students" since 2011 to subsidise post-secondary students for their participation in internship or learning programmes on the Mainland, so as to encourage them to learn about the prevailing social, economic and cultural landscape of our country through personal experience. In addition, the University Grants Committee (UGC) allocated $50 million in 2019 to support the UGC-funded universities in organising different programmes, such as exchange activities, internship arrangements and service learning, to enhance students' non-local learning experience. The universities can utilise the above funding to arrange students to participate in exchange and experience activities on the Mainland, thereby promoting students' understanding of the country's latest developments in different fields including I&T, commonly used mobile and payment applications, etc. With the easing of the pandemic, border crossing restrictions between the Mainland and Hong Kong have been lifted. Post-secondary students in Hong Kong can take part in multi-faceted Mainland exchange activities or even travel to the Mainland on their own initiative to experience first-hand the various electronic platforms and applications trending on the Mainland.
Furthermore, a clear indicator is set in the 2022 Policy Address of which opportunities of learning experience outside Hong Kong should be provided for around 50 per cent of undergraduate students of the UGC-funded universities by the 2025/26 academic year. In this regard, the EDB will strengthen support for post-secondary institutions to participate in exchange and experience activities on the Mainland and outside Hong Kong. We welcome all sectors to join hands with the Government in promoting I&T learning for all students, to support them in understanding and applying IT and I&T, particularly creating more opportunities for learning and internship in the Mainland, so as to let them understand and use e-platforms in the Mainland as well as foster their ability in seizing the opportunities brought about by the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.
In conclusion, education is the key to nurture talents. To better integrate into the overall national development, we will actively promote STEAM education and I&T in primary and secondary schools, continue the ongoing curriculum renewal, strengthen collaboration with the I&T sector, as well as establish a professional teaching force, so as to nurture a new generation of I&T talents with an affection for our country and Hong Kong, and contribute to our country and the community.
Ends/Wednesday, March 22, 2023
Issued at HKT 15:50
Issued at HKT 15:50