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Electronic Schoolbags, PDAs: Learning on the Go for HongKong School Children
Detail: Choi Wai-kit, a teacher at Shak Chung Shan Memorial Catholic Primary School in Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong, dreamt up the vision of a "mobile classroom" that will allow children to learn at all times and in all places. This dream became a reality when the school launched an electronic schoolbag scheme in 2001.

First introduced for certain topics in General Studies for Primary Five, the scheme involved converting lessons, creating websites, devising interactive maps and designing games to make learning fun for students. This enabled teachers and students to learn outside the classroom environment such as during their field trip to the Hong Kong International Airport where interviews with visitors and other survey results were instantly uploaded in the online learning platforms. The electronic schoolbags also provided internet resources on the go to school children. The school currently has 42 electronic schoolbags which the Primary Five students take turns to use.

The electronic school bags scheme is part of the Microsoft Hong Kong's Innovative Schools programme, a scheme that enables local educators to work with the computer company to introduce technological innovations for education. Shak Chung Shan Memorial Catholic Primary School is also a pioneer in using PDAs as a teaching tool. The school's PDA learning scheme was introduced in Primary Four and Primary Five last year. It combined 3G mobile phone technology, the internet and lesson materials into a learning experience.

An example of the use of PDA as a learning tool was illustrated in the “Tram Go! Go! Go!” activity held at the school last November, when students, with a PDA in hand, had to travel from Western District to Causeway Bay along the tram route. When they arrived at a certain point, they received a GPS signal and had to answer a question about the area. Students needed to log on to the internet to gather information to answer the question before proceeding to the next point. "We were teaching the children about the history of Hong Kong Island, and we knew there were many sites that reflected the early development of the city along the tram lines," says Mr Choi, adding that the activity was part of the school's General Studies lessons.

With a goal to help students acquire the learning skills needed to cope with the ever-changing environment of the 21st century via education complemented by information technology, the school's other IT innovations include collaborating with City University of Hong Kong to create an internet platform where students can practice their English writing and oral skills.
Source: South China Morning Post, April 30, 2008 Wednesday
Date: May 1 2008