Interview with Tim Evans: EdTech in Hong Kong

November 17, 2020

In this article, Stamford American School Hong Kong’s Education Technology Coordinator, Tim Evans, discusses how EdTech is being used during the pandemic both in his school and other schools in the region. 

EdTech in Hong Kong

Has there been a surge in the adoption of EdTech platforms in Hong Kong during the pandemic?

Initially I think there was. Maybe not adoption, but most definitely the exploration of tools and platforms that could support online learning. As with everything, there was a slight panic, which is only natural during what was, and still is an unprecedented time. However, I know here at Stamford, we used this time as an opportunity to reflect on the tools we use – and if something we have cut a few platforms and simplified things. And then concentrating on using platforms to their full potential. Platforms like Google G Suite (now Workspace) and Seesaw are such powerful tools that allow for a broad range of use – throughout the school, by different ages and subjects. We also wanted to streamline log in details, so students (and parents) do not have too many usernames and passwords to manage. We realised quickly how much or how little support our younger students were getting at home which was another motivation for simplifying things.

How well have schools in Hong Kong adapted to the pandemic and what will be the lasting impact in terms of teaching and learning?

Hong Kong is pretty well set up for online learning and working remotely. There is also a culture of innovation in the use of EdTech. The infrastructure is excellent and the majority of people have reliable devices at home. Schools are well resourced too. Our teachers are well versed when it comes to using technology, so this stood us in good stead. As I mentioned earlier, this has been a time for reflection for all, and I think we have looked at our practice and how we work, as well as considering ways to become more productive.  I envisage a shift towards a more blended learning approach as we come out of the pandemic. The time we then have together, in person, can be used for more collaboration and group activities. Potentially, this could involve less tech. It has been a challenging year, but if we can learn, develop and grow together, then we can look forward to 2021!

Post Covid how can schools in Hong Kong become future focused?

It is the responsibility of educators to make sure students are ready for the world beyond their education, in life and in work. We have all seen how digital technologies have transformed our societies over the past decades. The recent school closure due to the pandemic is the perfect case in point that our world is filled with uncertainties and disruptions and that the traditional classroom approach to learning needs to adapt. As a forward-thinking school, we asked ourselves “what kind of education experience do we offer our students so that they will rise to the unpredictable challenges of the future?”

The answers were obvious. Our future requires individuals with higher-order thinking skills such as complex problem-solving, critical thinking and creativity, among other “soft skills” that can’t yet be mimicked by artificial intelligence.

We then mindfully integrated technology in the learning journey to engage our students so they can develop soft skills: be it as a collaboration tool for a group project, a coding tool to encourage problem-solving, or a communication tool to connect with fellow students from around the world. Essentially, the technology is there to support learning, and not drive learning. Technologies will come and go, as we have seen in the past, and are witnessing daily, whereas these important soft skills will be around for a long time.

What does that look like at your school and how can it set an example for other schools in Hong Kong to follow?

Technology has found its way into all areas of studies, and all grades. For example, we have secondary students designing 3D elements that will later be used in an Augmented Reality movie that they will script, create and edit. Elementary students may use Virtual Reality headsets to visit the Grand Canyon and Mount Everest, as they learn about erosion. Even our 5-year-old Pre-primary students use Cubetto and Bluebot robots to learn the concept of coding and programming. 

One of the benefits of being connected in networks such as Global EdTech is the opportunity to collaborate with other students and schools. Skypathon and “Share A Story” were two such collaborations made possible by technology. “Share A Story” saw our students contribute to a storybook project where each chapter was written by a different school – it was great fun watching the plot evolve!

As educators, we want to lead by example and explore new technologies with our students. We are blessed with a team of forward-thinking, innovative educators here at Stamford which is why there is always something exciting going on.

Ultimately, we know that knowledge, skills, and understanding will continue to benefit students in their life. No matter what career they pursue, our students will be up for the challenge!

We hope that the example we set in terms of our use of EdTech will be an inspiration to other schools in Hong Kong.  

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