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Experiential Learning Fund Staff-initiated Project 2018-19 (First Round)


Project Title Project Coordinator(s)
Hands-On Heritage: Shared Conservation of an Historic Hakka Mansion
Course code: CONS2003, CONS2005, CONS3003, CONS4002
Number of undergraduate students participating: 73
Dr. Gesa Schwantes
Faculty of Architecture
Music and Culture: An Overseas Field Trip
Course code: MUSI2077
Number of undergraduate students participating: 20
Dr. Jose Vicente Neglia
Faculty of Arts
Academic Fieldtrip Cum Workshop on North Korean History, Culture and Society
Course code: KORE2028, CCGL9027
Number of undergraduate students participating: 60
Dr. Victor Teo
Faculty of Arts
Youth Mentoring
Course code: BBED6783
Number of undergraduate students participating: 20
Ms. Candace Mok
Faculty of Education
Developing resilient student teachers by nurturing resilience in vulnerable groups in Cambodia
Course code: BBED6790
Number of undergraduate students participating: 12
Ms. Jessie Chow
Faculty of Education
Sustainable Development in Tibet
Course code: TBC
Number of undergraduate students participating: 15
Ms. Jessie Chow
Faculty of Education
Developing the competence in STEM education
Course code: BBED6747
Number of undergraduate students participating: 30
Dr. Valerie Yip
Faculty of Education
Advancing Social Development Experiential Learning Preparation
Course code: SOWK3132
Number of undergraduate students participating: 15
Dr. Lori Noguchi
Faculty of Social Sciences

Experiential Learning Fund Student-initiated Project 2018-19 (First Round)


Project Title Project Coordinator(s)
BrailleAssist
Number of undergraduate students participating: 8
Mr. Sidhant Gupta
Facutly of Engineering
Experiential STEM Education in Bangkok
Number of undergraduate students participating: 12
Mr. Gokce Ozer
Faculty of Engineering
2018-2019 YIng De Group Winter Service Trip
Number of undergraduate students participating: 21
Mr. Lau Chun Leung
Faculty of Social Sciences


Hands-On Heritage: Shared Conservation of an Historic Hakka Mansion

Staff-initiated Project
Course code: CONS2003, CONS2005, CONS3003, CONS4002
Dr. Gesa Schwantes, Faculty of Architecture
Number of undergraduate students participating: 73

For the proposed experiential learning project, students will visit the Pun Uk site multiple times to catalog architectural details, document building damage, and prepare wall mock-ups to evaluate different conservation treatments. Students will also extract samples from the site and analyze them in the Architectural Conservation Laboratory (ACLab) in order to determine their compositions and prepare better matching construction materials.

The project will address three current issues in conservation:

  1. Conservation science is a relatively new field, and thus the project will educate the public, government and practicing conservation professionals about how scientific analyses of samples are incorporated into the conservation plan to have better compatibility between materials and an overall more successful repair.
  2. Architectural conservation professionals do not have experience using heritage construction materials. Thus, this project will provide students (the next generation of architectural conservators) with crucial ongoing field work where they participate in EVERY step of the conservation process, from initial site inspections to evaluate the extent of the damage to obtaining samples for lab analysis to suggesting recommendations for the conservation management plan.
  3. Conservation projects are limited by time and money, but with the effort of over 70 students, a more comprehensive restoration of the site is feasible. Student groups will have greater opportunities to perform in-depth research on specific areas of the mansion, and future groups of students can both monitor previous repairs and prepare new analyses, ALL while learning valuable skills for heritage work. The ACLab will generate detailed scientific data, and the conservation procedures will be based on sound scientific data with fewer unknowns, ultimately leading to a more informed, better conservation management plan (CMP).

The main target community, the residents of Yuen Long, will not only enjoy the restored Pun Uk mansion, but due to interaction with students and the conservation process, have a newfound appreciation of conservation efforts. Students will establish a friendly relationship with the Yuen Long community, trading knowledge of old methods of construction techniques along with more modern ideas. Local craftsmen will ”share” their knowledge and the fabrication of repair materials. This will lead to more public support for architectural heritage projects. Industry and government officials associated with conservation will also be introduced to the latest architectural heritage conservation techniques based on international ”best practices” and cutting-edge research, ultimately leading to improved historic building repairs in Hong Kong. China Point has already offered to be on-site with students to help advise them as they explore the site. The company will mentor students and provide critiques of their written reports, which is invaluable career preparation for students.

The wealth of information generated by student research and work at the site is significant, but it is only impactful if it can be disseminated throughout the university community, industry partners, and with the general public. Several deliverables will facilitate this dissimilation including student posters and mock-up walls at the studio and at the site, videos of students performing work and explaining the details of the process available at the ACP website and student presentations given to an industry audience (members of industry are invited to the student presentations).



Music and Culture: An Overseas Field Trip

Staff-initiated Project
Course code: MUSI2077
Dr. Jose Vicente Neglia, Faculty of Arts
Number of undergraduate students participating: 20

The proposed experiential learning project will revolve around a trip to Tokyo, Japan. Students will partake in three activities while in Japan:

  1. participate in a Noh workshop, organized by Prof. Richard Emmert at Musashino University and founder of TheatreNoh.org.
  2. conduct fieldwork on musical life in Tokyo, Japan (e.g. attending various events, concerts, etc.)
  3. partake in soundscape studies research of the Tokyo urban environment.

The goal of the project is to expose students to unique musical cultures in their original social contexts (i.e. to experience Japanese music in Japan), and to engage in ethnographic research. The students will be required to conduct fieldwork while in Japan, which will entail participant observation, various fieldwork exercises, and a collection of audio-visual recordings. The project will emphasize internationalization with the goal of forging links between musicians and academics in Japan, particularly through the TheatreNoh organization of Prof. Emmert.”



Academic Fieldtrip Cum Workshop on North Korean History, Culture and Society

Staff-initiated Project
Course code: KORE2028, CCGL9027
Dr. Victor Teo, Faculty of Arts
Number of undergraduate students participating: 60

This project will offer HKU Students an experiential learning opportunity by participating in a fieldtrip to North Korea and two academic workshops in collaboration with two North Korean Universities, and have in depth exchange and learning from North Korean counterparts. It would also enable students to travel first hand to North Korea’s Special Economic Zone and survey first hand the economic opportunities and challenges faced by the country. Through their interactions with the people and students there, it is hoped that the students would be able to reflect on their experience and learn about North Korean culture and society through the experiences gained.



Youth Mentoring

Staff-initiated Project
Course code: BBED6783
Ms. Candace Mok, Faculty of Education
Number of undergraduate students participating: 20

“This elective course is designed to develop in UG Education Majors the knowledge, skills, beliefs and awareness needed to be an effective mentor and advocate of disadvantaged youth to address social and educational inequality. The course integrates regular university-based interactive seminars on mentoring skills with an experiential learning component in which each participant mentors a secondary learner, supporting and advocating for the learner academically and socially on a regular basis across two semesters.

Student-teachers will meet with the secondary learner-mentee (protégé) on a one-to-one, face-to-face basis for eight to ten meetings and also contact their mentee electronically (e.g. whatsapp) once a week to provide social and academic support. The mentor-protégé meetings will be primarily outside of school to broaden protégés’ experience and horizons. Two excursions in Hong Kong will be organised for all mentors and mentees to visit a part of Hong Kong unfamiliar but of interest to the mentees, or do an activity which is new/unfamiliar to mentees. The second excursion will be to HKU campus.

Mentees (protégés) from secondary schools will benefit socially and academically from having a personal mentor as they navigate the challenges of secondary education and adolescence. The school will benefit from having additional support for their students, many of whom live below HK’s poverty line. Student-teachers in the Faculty of Education enrolled on the course will develop mentoring skills and a deepened understanding of society which will contribute to their overall development as education professionals.”



Developing resilient student teachers by nurturing resilience in vulnerable groups in Cambodia

Staff-initiated Project
Course code: BBED6790
Ms. Jessie Chow, Faculty of Education
Number of undergraduate students participating: 12

This is the second year of the programme and this programme sets out to build a long-term relationship between the Faculty of Education at HKU and a rural school in Cambodia which houses children impacted by trafficking and poverty. The focus will be on co-constructing a curriculum on developing resilience for the children there with the teachers and volunteers of the school by adopting a ‘train the trainers’ model of professional development. Through this sustained relationship we aim to attend to both the rural Cambodian and the HKU communities by developing global leaders with social awareness and empathy. Research demonstrates that teachers’ resilience enhances their job satisfaction and teaching effectiveness, and at the same time, allows teachers to nurture resilience in their own students to cope with the challenges of the 21st century. Since 2015, the Faculty of Education of HKU has endeavored to advance teacher education by designing dynamic experiential learning programmes both abroad and here in Hong Kong. The current program highlights one of the key approaches that contextualizes the knowledge of teachers’ resilience in working with a vulnerable target group and carefully incorporates Kolb’s (2015) reflective learning cycle into the program. Student teachers learn to integrate academic theories and actively experiment through continuous observation, trial-and-error and reflection. Students also receive structured input sessions and reflect through ongoing guided reflective exercises.



Sustainable Development in Tibet

Staff-initiated Project
Course code: TBC
Ms. Jessie Chow, Faculty of Education
Number of undergraduate students participating: 15

Tibet has developed rocketing economic growth in the past two decades at the expenses of the ecosystem and environment. Set against this backdrop, this programme aims to bridge this gap by creating the platform for our student educators to learn about the socio-economic landscapes of Tibet and to analyze its challenges of turning around and sustaining its development. Our student educators will first learn about the theoretical understanding of sustainable development and its relationship to the socio-economic landscapes of Tibet. Then they will work in cross-disciplinary teams to put their knowledge into practice — putting forward their ideas of raising social awareness and calling for behavioral changes with the consideration of local culture and limitations in the format of “TED talk’ videos and workshops to school. Through the learning process of knowing about the culture, self and others, students will develop an increased intercultural sensitivity as local and global citizens.



Developing the competence in STEM education

Staff-initiated Project
Course code: BBED6747
Dr Valerie Yip, Faculty of Education
Number of undergraduate students participating: 30

This project is a continuation of a project funded by GHELC last year. It will strengthen the part on student engagement so that HKU students will work more closely with the primary and secondary schools with the support from our community partners. A component in STEM education, Maker education, will be introduced. The project will adopt a multiple-track approach to provide the flexibility for students coming from different streams to decide which area(s) they would like to focus on, and hence reflect more critically on their roles in STEM education. They will work closely with teachers, academic unit and non-governmental and governmental stakeholders to support the ultimate beneficiaries – the school pupils. All HKU students will have the opportunities to learn from overseas STEM industries/STEM learning centres/institutions responsible for STEM education (e.g. schools and universities) to broaden their understanding about the issues related to STEM education.



Advancing Social Development Experiential Learning Preparation

Staff-initiated Project
Course code: SOWK3132
Dr. Lori Noguchi, Faculty of Social Sciences
Number of undergraduate students participating: 15

This project aims to develop and implement an experimental learning project for the Advancing Social Development Course which is a core course in the Minor Social Development within the Department of Social Work and Social Administration. The Advancing Social Development course examines social policy, planning and practice as a force for progressive transformation and sustainable, equitable, gender-aware and socially-just development. Looking at both the Hong Kong and international context, it examines diverse areas of social development practice including planning and intervention, asset building, community action, employment and decent work, microfinance and microenterprise. The aim of the experiential learning component is to allow students to explore how select themes from the course are applied in an international context by working with youth engaged in social development in Cambodia or Thailand, and to gain insights from the collaboration that they will be able to apply to social engagement in Hong Kong.

Working with institutional collaborators with extensive ties to the nonprofit communities in Cambodia and Thailand, the preparatory stage of the project aims to identify a suitable partner organization or organizations in Thailand or Cambodia and to design a mode of collaboration for the partnership. The aim will be to find organizations engaged with university-aged youth in which themes relevant to the course are being demonstrated in action (such as community capacity building or participation, for example). As students will have also explored how organizations in Hong Kong address these themes, the experiential learning experience will enable them to compare how the themes are understood and applied in the different contexts and identify how different cultural, political and policy factors affect their application.

The experiential learning experience itself will be designed to fulfill the following objectives:

  1. to provide opportunity for students to understand the relationship between social development and poverty and inequality in different societies;
  2. to provide an opportunity to students to have in-depth exchange with youth of similar age who are addressing social issues in their own communities, so as to enable them to facilitate mutual
    learning;
  3. to deepen their understanding of the factors involved in social policy and development in diverse cultural contexts.

While the specifics of the learning experience will depend on the arrangements made in the preparatory phase, it is anticipated that the trip will include 3 days visiting a variety of organizations that give students insight into how these organizations address issues of poverty, inequality, and social development, followed by 7 days collaborating with the youth in the primary partner organization to design and/or implement their own projects.



BrailleAssist

Student-initiated Project
Mr. Sidhant Gupta, Faculty of Engineering
Number of undergraduate students participating: 8

Our project “BrailleAssist” is a project where we intend to develop open source freely distributable braille keyboards and readers for the visually impaired.

Technology is empowerment in the modern age. A number of public and private services now require you to use a computer or mobile phone to register or use their facilities or access opportunities. Countries such as France and Finland consider access to the internet to now be a legal right. However, the visually impaired community has been most seriously affected by the recent growth of technology. Most of them rely on audio based screen readers to use computers and mobile phone and are thus seriously disadvantaged in terms of opportunities available to them since their digital literacy is hampered. The solution is to develop a Braille based keyboard and reader. Although they do exist, Braille based keyboards and Braille displays are very expensive (upwards of 2000 USD in fact) due to their reliance on old piezoelectric actuation technology for the braille display. Further, these devices largely exist only for desktop computers and not mobile devices. Due to this a large number of visually impaired people cannot access smartphone apps and other newer technology and are forced to use button based phones.

Thus, in order to further inclusivity in society, our project shall develop an ​open source​ mobile based braille keyboard and reader which can be attached to the back of a modern smartphone and used. The device will be the first of its kind and will be available open source for anyone to develop further/manufacture for free.

In order to develop this technology we will recruit a team of engineers and first go to Shenzhen in China to develop the braille based mobile devices at Seeed Studio – one of the largest hardware technology startups and makerspaces in the world. With the help of the vast resources at Seeed Studio the team from HKU will rapidly prototype a design for the braille device and ensure that it is functional and useful. All the developmental data will be released with an open source licence so that it can be publically used and developed further for free – benefiting the visually impaired community globally.

Finally, to effectively test our device, get good feedback and disseminate our information we will travel to Tokyo, Japan. Japan has over 1.6 million visually impaired individuals, most of whom are highly braille literate. Massive government and social support for the issue in Japan has led to numerous government initiatives which are looking for technology to help solve the problem. In Tokyo we will be working with the Tokyo Helen Keller Association and the Japan Braille Library (The Japan Braille Library is the nation’s largest library for people with visual impairments and print disabilities) to help test our device with braille literate blind individuals as well as distribute the devices and disseminate the technology.



Experiential STEM Education in Bangkok

Student-initiated Project
Mr. Gokce Ozer, Faculty of Engineering
Number of undergraduate students participating: 12

We are organizing a 2 week trip to Bangkok in Thailand during the winter break (Dec-Jan 2018/2019). We will collaborate with Saint Joseph Convent School to provide the students with introductory insight into STEM education. We plan to achieve this objective by providing hands-on experience with electronics and software programming and building simple yet wonderful projects.

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education adopts an integrative, cross-disciplinary approach for pupils to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to tackle real-life problems. To achieve this goal, it is essential to develop HKU STEM-related major students to become proficient STEM educators. STEM is important because our world depends on it. The economy, our general well-being—it’s all backed by science, technology, engineering, and math. Thus, when we refer to STEM, it’s not just coding and lab coats. It’s the underpinning of manufacturing, food production, health care, and so much more that frankly, we might take for granted, but surely can’t live without.

The students will have the opportunity to benefit from a multi-track project in which they will be given a chance to choose which area(s) they would like to work on, thus reflecting more critically on their approach to their project. HKU students and the target students will be working closely to develop on their ideas and make them come true.
The students at HKU shall benefit through experiential and practical learning as well as international transdisciplinary project experience in Bangkok. They will also gain experience from learning about professional STEM education and the issues related to the area.



2018-2019 YIng De Group Winter Service Trip

Student-initiated Project
Mr. Lau Chun Leung, Faculty of Social Sciences
Number of undergraduate students participating: 21

Ying De Group is a registered charitable organization. Our group is proposing a project entitled ‘2018-2019 Ying De Winter Service Trip’ (2018-2019 年度英德小組冬季服務旅 程), which begins from July 2018 to January 2019. The 7-month project consists of an internal preparation trip, two pre-trip workshops for participants, an external service trip and a post-trip debriefing session.

For the internal preparation trip , the committee members are going to take a 5-day trip to Yingde City in late July. During the preparation trip, various activities and preparation work will be done, such as village and home visits. The external service trip, which will be held at the beginning of January, will provide participants with opportunities to experience rural village life and volunteer teaching, thus allowing them to interact with local villagers and students. Pre-trip workshops and post-trip debriefing sessions aim to help participants to prepare for the service trip and to consolidate their learning experiences during the service trip. After deducting the costs, all proceeds raised will be used to subsidize Yingde students who have financial difficulties in continuing their studies.