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By: Leisa Grace Wilson

I recently returned from a trip to Hong Kong, where I saw firsthand their work in building and reinforcing their Education Technology ( Edtech) infrastructure and resources. In this article, I give you a deep dive into the investments made and planned by Hong Kong in Edtech. 

Hong Kong, known for its bustling streets and soaring skyscrapers, is also emerging as a trailblazer in education technology. At the heart of this transformation is the EdTech Month Summit 2023, which I had the privilege of attending along with a delegation of journalists from across Asia and the Middle East. This flagship event sheds light on Hong Kong’s concerted efforts to harness the potential of IT in education.

Unprecedented Investments

The government of Hong Kong has shown a clear commitment to this cause, evidenced by the investment of over $16 billion (approximately USD 2.04 billion) since the 1998/99 school year in strategies in IT Education. Such a hefty investment showcases the region’s long-term vision of integrating technology into every facet of the educational journey.

Infrastructure at the Forefront

Infrastructure forms the backbone of any technological initiative, and Hong Kong is no exception. The region boasts a Wi-Fi-enabled campus for all its public-funded schools, amounting to about 1,000 in total. This significant enhancement allows students to utilise mobile computing devices for e-learning anywhere on campus. Remarkably, each school, on average, now possesses over 200 mobile computer devices dedicated to facilitating learning and teaching.

Sustaining the Momentum with E-Learning Subsidies

Funding remains a critical component to ensure continuity in tech-based initiatives. The Education Bureau of Hong Kong offers e-learning subsidies, solidified by their recurring subventions strategy. These recurrent grants play a pivotal role in ensuring schools are equipped with the necessary hardware and software resources to deliver a top-notch tech-driven educational experience.

Composite Information Technology Grant (CITG)

The introduction of CITG showcases Hong Kong’s strategic approach in this domain. Schools are provided with an annual CITG that ranges from $266,228 (around USD 33,900) to $868,609 (close to USD 110,600) based on the type of school and the number of students. This grant can be used to subscribe to Wi-Fi services, procure and enhance software and hardware for online instruction, and bolster IT staffing support.

Emphasising Information Literacy in Hong Kong Schools

Hong Kong has always been a global hub of commerce, technology, and education. Over the years, as the city has modernised and embraced new technological advancements, there’s a growing emphasis on ensuring its student population is equipped with technological skills and the discernment and acumen that Information Literacy (IL) brings.

Why the Emphasis on Information Literacy?

In today’s digital age, students are exposed to various digital resources. This empowers them to connect with a global audience, expand their horizons, and enrich their learning journey. However, with the advent of technology, students also face challenges. The widespread use of the internet and social media networks has amplified the risk of disinformation. Besides, cyberbullying and internet addiction have become global concerns.

Hong Kong’s Education Bureau recognises these dual facets of technology – the opportunities and the pitfalls. As such, there’s a drive to “Develop Students’ Information Literacy”. This revolves around equipping students with IT knowledge & skills while fostering positive attitudes towards technology use.

The Framework for Information Literacy

To standardise the approach, the Education Bureau has laid out an “Information Literacy ( IL) for Hong Kong Students” learning framework. This encompasses nine literacy areas aimed at developing students’ knowledge, skills, and attitudes. Some key areas include:

  • *Using, providing, and communicating information ethically and responsibly.
  • *Evaluating information, media content, and their sources.
  • *Recognising the ethical issues arising from emerging and advanced information technologies.
  • *Professional Development and Parental Involvement
  • The emphasis on IL continues beyond the students. Teachers undergo both introductory and advanced-level courses to understand and implement the IL learning framework. Topics range from understanding the applications of emerging and advanced information technologies to designing practical teaching activities in IL education.

Furthermore, it recognises the critical role parents play in a child’s education and initiatives aimed at supporting parents in e-learning. This includes understanding their concerns and enhancing their skills to support their children in this digital age.

Resources for IL Education

The Education Bureau collaborates with various government departments and NGOs to produce e-learning resource kits. This initiative is geared towards assisting schools in implementing IL education effectively. From video series on topics like cyberbullying to animated stories, a range of resources caters to diverse learning needs and styles.

Promoting Home-school Cooperation

An integral part of this initiative is the cooperation between home and school. This partnership is viewed as indispensable in nurturing students’ capabilities in information literacy and creating a supportive and effective learning environment. This holistic approach ensures that students are technologically proficient, discerning and responsible digital citizens.

Hong Kong’s emphasis on Information Literacy is both timely and essential. By equipping students with the skills and attitudes to navigate the digital world responsibly, Hong Kong is ensuring its future generations are not just tech-savvy but also tech-wise.

In conclusion, the synergy between policy formulation, substantial investment, and a clear roadmap places Hong Kong at the forefront of global EdTech innovations. The EdTech Month Summit 2023, under the stewardship of Miss CHOI Katharine from the Education Bureau, embodies this vision, heralding a bright future for Hong Kong’s students in the digital age. It was my pleasure to have been a part of this.