Tin-Chueng Pong talks about educational trends in China and around the world

Tin-Chueng Pong talks about educational trends in China and around the world

| Self-development

Mr. Pong, a professor at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, has told Lectera Magazine how high-tech vocational training is changing in China today.

Tin-Chueng Pong is Senior Advisor to the Vice Rector and Director of the Centre for Educational Innovation. He teaches information technology and system engineering at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST). China is a breakthrough country in many respects, including education. Furthermore, Mr. Pong is one of those who are implementing online education in China's university environment and helping blend modern technology with traditional education.

  • Mr. Pong, I know you're one of the senior advisers and a professor at Hong Kong University of science and technology and you were a cofounder of the University from the very beginning. And the university is yet very young but already famous. What helped you to become one the leading universities?

Yes, that's all true. I think there are mainly three different factors. The first is the people. We make sure that we have high quality faculty and we are also very selective as for students. The second is the location. Hong Kong is a location where we bridge the East and the West and it's a very international city. The third is the timing. When we first started the economy in Hong Kong was growing, as it was in China, so we can attract a lot of resources. The government was investing a lot of money into education. So, I think these are the three important factors for us to be successful.

  • Many universities still focus on theoretical knowledge and disciplines, but we know that practical skills are very important for students. So, what about your university? Which aspects of education do you focus on?

We focus a lot on research including basic and private research. We also put a lot of emphasis on the interdisciplinary research areas, so our students will be given an opportunity to explore different subject areas. I think it's very important because nowadays in order to solve complex problem it's not enough just to have knowledge in one area. You need multidisciplinary exposure as well as soft skills. It's often called the "Four C": critical thinking, creativity, communication and collaboration. That's very important.

  • Do you provide students with options for collaboration offline or online?

Okay, we actually introduce some courses for student to start working in teams in the first year of the study. So, they'll get this kind of collaborative opportunity from the very beginning. I think it's very important.

  • When we are speaking about students, we imply they are young people at the age between 17 and 25 but what about seniors? How often do you meet senior people at university? Do they have an opportunity to learn there?

We recently launched a program for the adult learners because we realize that nowadays the job nature is very different. So, people need to be within change. I think this kind of program will provide them life-long learning opportunity. I think it's important for the young kids as well as for the adult learners.

  • I know they you implement online education, online platform. How easy is it for people to interact with the platform and not with a human? Are there any difficulties or misunderstandings?

I think that the design of the platform is very important. In addition to the use of readiness there is the data that we collect from the platform. Because we can collect data on how students learn and use it to give feedback to the platform designer on how to improve the platform. We call it learning animatics. Not only it's important for the platform designer but also for the teacher because it shows how the delivery of teaching can be improved.

  • Should the person develop her ability to learn, her type of learning or should we should we develop technologies to help people learning?

I would say both. Because learning how to learn is very important. But then by using a technology you can personalize the learning. Because we all have different abilities. One may be stronger in some area than the other. So, by analyzing the learning pattern we can provide them with different learning pathways to personalize the learning according to the person's interest.

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