As project leader, it is my pleasure to welcome you to the third issue our PolyU PALMS newsletter, chronicling our 3-year UGC-project under the “Funding Scheme for Teaching and Learning Related Initiatives (2016-19 Triennium).”I hope this newsletter finds you safe and well in these uncertain and challenging times as we grapple with the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic.The past few months have not been easy for us as teachers and students as we try and find new ways of coping with the effects of the pandemic, which has undeniably disrupted all aspects of the global education system to an overwhelming and unpredictable degree.We are currently under-going and experiencing the largest educational experiment in human history as we herald a new dawn in education.The new nor mis not something any of us are familiar with and yet, as educators, we must quickly learn to adapt to new ways of teaching and learning. With the inevitable closures of universities and schools, we have had to carefully consider alternative educational strategies.As teachers, we have been compelled to act quickly and move swiftly to adopt a completely virtual approach to teaching that obviates the need for face-to-face classroom interactions.
Welcome Message from the Project Leader
PALMS Activities to Support Teachers Towards Transition to Online Teaching
Our Newest Quality Education Fund (QEF) Initiative
Cell Game Updates
New Directions and Pursuits in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning(SoTL)
Welcome Message from the Project Leader, Dr. Fridolin Ting!
We have been faced with the need for adaptability, versatility and creativity including a completeret hinking and reconfiguration of the traditional classroom-oriented instructional approach, and moving towards a completely unexpected and abrupt transition to virtual teaching.This shift from traditional teaching classroom methods to a remote virtual learning environment presents significant challenges, in that it requires both pedagogical and technological adaptations if the learning landscape is to be transformed into one that is engaging, interactive as well as collaborative.It is my view that the global lock down of education institutions and the sudden need for physical distancing during the pandemic has not only created significant disruptions to teaching and learning, but it has also created significant opportunities for all teachers to make a real and impactful difference in their students' lives and inthe learning process.During this time of social distancing and remote learning, it is more important than ever, for us as teachers, to stay virtually connected to our students and create engaging online activities that allow all students to actively participate in their learning instead of just passively listening to an online lecture.It is clear that innovations in teaching and technology have provided significant opportunities for us as teachers, instructors and educators to explore ways of how to best deliver content online through the use of new technology-enhanced active learning strategies, in order to engage our learners in new ways of learning and interacting outside of the classroom.Given the urgency of the situation, we have been forced to reinvent our teaching methods and strategies to be able to effectively teach remotely by adopting the most appropriate digital tools, online resources and mobile applications to support learner motivation, interactive engagement and online activities that promote active learning.As teachers, I feel we have a moral duty to find ways to ensure that the educational needs and best interests of our students are met. This means finding new, innovative and creative ways to adapt the traditional classroom to a new environment for learning that is centred on active learning, interaction and engagement.Moreover, in my opinion, these pedagogical and technological adaptations may subsequently provide learners the opportunity to utilise their cognitive and higher-order skills and strategies by making meaning from their experiences and the environment and constructing their own knowledge and understanding. While much of the focus has been on Covid-19 these past months amidst widespread stay-at-home orders during the pandemic, our PALMS project team have been working tirelessly to cope with the sudden upsurge in users of our“YoTeach!” back channel chat application. In light of the situational context, we have used the past months as a significant opportunity to scale-up our “YoTeach!” “Badaboom” and “CELL Game” platforms, which have all seen tremendous growth due to a huge uptake of users. Our PALMS project team, including our developer, have been working relentlessly and tirelessly to ensure our platforms are stable and able to cope with the huge surge in demand sparked by the pandemic. This has comprised of stability fixes, feature updates as well as actively monitoring overall system performance of our cloud-based and analytics infrastructure, including identifying and resolving issues related to storage capacity, scalability and performance, thereby ensuring uninterrupted service.
We have also been proactive in our social media efforts as well, as we are eager to increase awareness by promoting our “YoTeach!” “Badaboom” and “CELL Game” platforms and engage with a wide range of individuals, including teachers, educational bloggers and influencers to like, share and comment on our posts, to help spread the word, build awareness and create momentum during our phase of growth.We have over twenty-five different articles written by EdTech bloggers and educators around the world (http://palms.polyu.edu.hk/news/).Due to the pandemic and subsequent ramping up of our social media presence, our “YoTeach!”usage has gained significant traction on a global level due to our ongoing efforts to increase visibility, user engagement and exposure.In the face of the global pandemic, our PALMS online tools(i.e.,YoTeach!, Badaboom and CELL Game)have become the life blood for many teachers during this pandemic and are being used more than ever right now to support active learning and engagement outside of the classroom. This is achieved by helping to motivate and engage learners in interactive and meaningful discussions, deepen their conceptual understanding, develop their higher-order reasoning skills and apply learned concepts in problem solving contexts.
Moreover, our regular Twitter feeds and Facebook posts include new updates and features as well as resources and tips on creating, sharing and repurposing content using our platforms. Especially in the midst of the pandemic, we have been truly overwhelmed with the growth of our social media presence and the number of followers gained, which we believe is a measure of our exposure and influence, our impact upon our global community of followers as well as success in what we do.Promoting our“YoTeach!” “Badaboom” and CELL Game”platforms through various social media channels has been key to increasing our visibility to help us better engage with followers and monitor our success.During the last eight months of online teaching and learning in light of the current situation,our “YoTeach!” platform has gained further momentum, garnering over 45,000 users per month since its launch in 2018. We continue to promote our PALMS project by leveraging social media streams such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts to serve as a regional and global showcase and broadcasting platform for sharing project related videos, photos, events and latest news feeds in order to maximise awareness and impact. Moreover, we have also promoted our PALMS project through our collaborating project partner, the Knowledge & Education Exchange Platform (KEEP) of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (https://keep.edu.hk/en/partners).
On another note, besides the numerous international awards and accolades that we have received for our innovative pedagogies and technologies to support teaching and learning in higher education, our recognition and impact is probably best reflected in one of the most prestigious global events in the education sector, theWharton-Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) Reimagine Education Awards, where we had theopportunity to present and showcase our project work to a global audience of educators as well as a panel of judges and industry experts. We were humbled and fortunate to be honoured with three awardsin three different categories–a Silver Award in the "Natural Sciences" Discipline Category, a Bronze Award in the "Hybrid Learning" Category and a Bronze Award in the "ICT Tools for Learning and Teaching” Category. We once again look forward to our submissions to this year’sReimagine Education Awards 2020, which will of course be held virtually this year due to the pandemic.
Although I am sad that we are at the last leg of our journey, with our UGC T&L project drawing to an end, I have found myself time and again reflecting on how far we have come these past three years and the considerable accomplishments and significant milestones that have been achieved by our PALMS project team and partners.Some of the key factors of our project's success through innovative and creative project initiatives and activities have been the development, implementation and deployment of various cutting-edge technology-based learning solutions. This has been achieved through joint meetings with our project partners, exploring emerging trends and innovative approaches to active learning, as well as creating a forum for academic dialogue, faculty collaborations and exchange on the systematic monitoring and evaluation of active learning and methodological approaches to the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL).
Though these past months have been fraught with turmoil and uncertainty, our PALMS project team and project partners are resolute in our commitment and determination to see the project through to completion!We are now in the final home stretch of our 3-year UGC T&L Project and while we have undoubtedly made great strides, we want to achieve more. Our PALMS project journey thus far, has not only opened the door to unique possibilities by creating a culture for creativity and innovation together with our project partners, but also allowed us to identify unexplored opportunities in the development and application of technology-based active learning solutions.
To this end, we must remember that, as the Chinese proverb goes, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.To make our journey far-reaching and transformative, as teachers and educators,we require a change to more innovative technology-enhanced active learning pedagogies, to support meaningful engagement, promote higher-order learning and advance deeper learning and inquiry.Though the road ahead may be marked with unknowns, we remain resolute, determined and committed to charting the next steps in our journey towards pedagogical and technological change and continue to evolve, develop and sustain new ways of doing what we do best to make a difference that can last.
Dr. Fridolin Ting
Project Leader for UGC Triennium T&L PALMS Project
In recognition of our contributions to innovative pedagogies and technologies to support teaching and learning, our PALMS project team has received numerous international awards and accolades, including the Silver Award in the "Natural Sciences" Discipline Category, the Bronze Award in the "Hybrid Learning" Category and the Bronze Award in the "ICT Tools for Learning and Teaching" Category at the prestigious Wharton-Quacquarelli Symonds(QS) 2019 Reimagine Education Awards & Conference in London, December 2019. In addition, our PALMS project team also won third place at the 5the-Learning Excellence Awards in Denmark, November 2019, and finally, we were conferred the Gold Award in the "Best Classroom Technology Solution" Category, the Silver Award for "Best EdTech Solution" Category and the Silver Award for “Best EdTech Leader (Tertiary) Category at the 2019 EduTech Asia Awards in Singapore, November 2019.
PALMS Activities to Support Teachers Towards Transition to Online Teaching
During the past months and in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been actively involved with and/or invited as speakers at various department/faculty teaching and learning workshops and online symposiums, including specific tailor-made virtual workshops organised by the Education Development Centre (EDC) of PolyU (http://palms.polyu.edu.hk/posters/). By combining innovative pedagogical methodologies and teaching practices with the effective use of our three platforms,“YoTeach!” “Badaboom” and “CELL Game,” our workshops offer an abundant opportunity to not only showcase our tools, but also cultivate a supportive and responsive teaching and learning environment by supporting teachers in transitioning to online delivery in light of the COVID-19 crisis.These online virtual workshops have been well received by participants due to the useful and practical content of showcasing our three platforms.Overall feedback from these online virtual workshops has been overwhelmingly positive and we continue to support the academic community to enhance the quality of online teaching and learning.
Our Newest Quality Education Fund (QEF) Initiative
More recently, our PALMS projectwas recognised as a finalist and winner in the following two categoriesat the 2020 EdTech Awards (EdTech Digest)–finalist for the “EdTech Group Setting a Trend” Award and winner of the “School Leader Setting a Trend” Award.The“EdTech Group Setting a Trend” Award recognises the most exemplary achievements and contributions to innovative pedagogies and technologies in the field of education globally, selected by an international research cell constituted of professionals world-wide, while the “School Leader Setting a Trend” Award is awarded tooutstanding educational innovators,successful in creating transformational educational initiatives across the educational sector. Among numerous other accolades and recognitions, our team was shortlisted in the “Best use of digital learning in the classroom” category at the 2020 GESS Awards as well as being a finalist in the “Top Ten STEM School” Category and “Top Ten STEM Teacher” category at the Greater Bay Area STEM Excellence Awards 2020. Our accolades and awards are extremely gratifying and serve as a reflection of our project teams’ dedication and commitment and the pride we all share in the work we do. Moreover, these awards would not be achievablewithout the dedicated hard work and support of our project partnerswhohave made significant contributions to the overall success of ourUGC T&L projectand the significant strides we have all made collectively towards promoting and enhancing STEM higher education.
As an extension and continuation of ourUGC T&L project, we are excited to announce that we have secured HK$2 million in funding from the Quality Education Fund (QEF)to undertake a one-off project entitled"Active Learning Pedagogies and Mobile Applications in Secondary School Math Education" under the QEF’s priority theme of ‘STEM Education.’ The primary objective of the QEF, in line with the education development and policies of Hong Kong, is to enhance the quality of school educationat all levels. The PALMS project team aims totailor-make lesson plans for junior secondary school teachers of participating schools and subsequently, integrating innovative active learning pedagogies with technology within the classroom to support teaching and learning mathematics. Drawing on the experience gained from the ongoing success of our PALMS Project, this QEF project aims to apply and extend parallel innovative active pedagogies with corresponding PALMS e-tools (for example, YoTeach! Badaboom! and interactive online whiteboards) in a secondary school setting in Mathematics education.
Enhanced "question and answer" pedagogy
Collaborative problem-based-learning and peer assessment
Moreover, during the course of this project we plan to provide onsite pedagogical and technological support to implement active learning with the aid of technology in the classroom. For example, we plan to provide instructional support to secondary school teachers through the use of interactive online whiteboards, by employing a novel active teaching pedagogy that we have pioneered and developed, termed Collaborative Problem Based Learning and Peer Assessment (Co-PBLa-PA). The Co-PBLa-PA teaching strategy involves forming groups of students who have a common goal of correctly solving problems proposed by the students themselves or by the instructor and consequently, accurately peer assessing solutions presented by other groups with the utilisation of interactive whiteboards.
In summary, our new QEF project will not only leverage our PALMS e-tools and pedagogical practices, including the development of lesson plans ad training support on the relevant pedagogies besides including teaching practices intechnology-basedinstructional design and delivery for mathematics teachers, but also contribute to the scholarship of teaching and learning through knowledge dissemination and sharing of experiences and perspectives that contribute to the learning process.We are excited about this new project and its benefits to secondary school mathematics education in Hong Kong and we look forward to working together with the respective secondary school teachers to make a difference in thelives of our students by making learning more fun,interactiveand engaging!
Gamified collaborative problem-based learning
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Professor Christopher Dede
Professor in Learning Technologies
Harvard Graduate School of Education
In light of growing concerns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our PALMS Project Team has deliberated after much consideration, to transition this year’s conference to an online virtual event, thus eliminating the health and safety risks that come with travel and face-to-face meetings at this time.The apt and timely theme of this year's online virtual conference – Navigating the Rapidly Evolving Higher Education Landscape with Technology Enhanced Active Learning Pedagogies – reflects the methods by which innovations in teaching and technology have provided significant opportunities for teachers, instructors and educators to explore ways of how to best deliver content through the use of technology-enhanced active learning pedagogies, in order to engage their learners in new ways of learning and interacting within and outside the classroom.
This online virtual event is a half day conference and will feature a keynote presentationbyan internationally known and highly recognised leader in the field.Following the keynotesession, a moderated panel discussion, representing a cross-section of academic experts from different disciplines, will draw participants into the conversation on“Reshaping the Role ofTechnology Enhanced Active Learningin Higher Education amidst COVID-19.” The panel discussion will focus on how theCOVID-19 pandemic has heralded a new dawn in the global education scenario by not only creating significant challenges but also offering new opportunities for the global higher education landscape. The panel discussion willcompriseof an interactive exchange with the aim ofidentifying the need for adaptability, versatility and creativity on the part of educators amidst the pandemic, including a complete rethinking and reconfiguration of the traditional classroom-oriented instructional approach and moving toward the implementation of various technology-enhanced active learning solutions.The programme will alsofeature a combination of parallel workshop sessions from our project partners on the novel active teaching strategies and relevant e-toolstoengage students in interactive activities, with specific emphasis on navigating the coronaviruspandemic.
We invite all members of the university community to attend this online virtual conference as we aim to prototype and explore various approaches to active learning amidst the coronavirus crisis, in order to stimulate cross-disciplinary discussion and collaboration. Academics, experts and advocates of active learning pedagogies from a wide range of interests and disciplines at PolyU and other institutions will explore various approaches to technology enhanced active learning in the higher education context, specifically in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, and share practical insights from their experiences.While the conference programme details are still taking shape, we have begun working through certain pertinent details to provide a seamless and secure digital platform that will deliver a robust online interactive conference experience for a meaningful and rewarding virtual event. Registration for the online virtual conference is free and open to all members of Hong Kong’s tertiary institutions and wider academic community.From the entire PALMS team, we look forward to seeing you at our virtual Conference in January 2021!
Professor Diana Laurillard
Professor of Learning with Digital Technologies
Centre for Global Higher Education
Institute of Education, University College London
To help teachers maintain an appropriate and respectful conversation, we have built a profanity filter and moderation feature. Teachers can prevent students from posting rude and inappropriate messages automatically through the profanity filter, or opt for even more control by enabling room moderation. With moderation on, all messages will first need to be approved by a teacher or an authorized lesson moderator before the whole class can readily see the message.
Try YoTeach at yoteachapp.com!
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In addition to this fantastic feature, we’ve also added numerous functions to improve the YoTeach! experience for students and teachers, including:
We are ecstatic that so many teachers have chosen YoTeach! as one of their EdTech tools during these evolving times for online education! Regardless of where and how you are teaching, providing students with the communication channels needed to promote engagement and active learning is essential, and we believe our YoTeach! backchannel app empowers teachers and students to do just that!
Profanity Filter and Moderation
Our voice command feature! This allows students to perform basic YoTeach! functions though spoken instructions. This feature is great for students who have difficulties reading typed text to keep track of the conversation!
This past April, we were excited to roll out a brand new feature on YoTeach! - the Teacher’s Account! With so many teachers around the world being required to switch to online mediums (many overnight!), this feature was designed to help streamline and improve the YoTeach! experience for teachers through these unprecedented times.
Creating a Teacher’s Account is easy! Teachers and instructors simply register using their preferred email addresses. Once registered, all their chatrooms can be conveniently organised in one place - the dashboard. Easily create new rooms with automatic administrative access and link existing rooms to the new account. Account holders can even keep track of rooms created and being run by others through bookmarking them.
Teachers with accounts also unlock the optional sidebar feature to easily navigate from room to room. We also launched our YoTeach! newsletters, which teachers can also sign up for to receive and hear the latest relevant updates and tips from our PALMS team!
Last year, we were excited to announce and launch Badaboom Version 2 - and we are pleased to share that this year, Badaboom V2 has continued to soar! Striving for the best user experience, we have continued to develop and improve the user interface for an easy and smooth experience. In our new updated look, we have made the dashboard, along with menu options and their corresponding features, cleaner and easier to locate and access. We’ve also updated the images and colors of our webpages, for both a practical yet eye-catching interface.
One of our new menu items is the “Video Tutorials”! To make sure all users can comfortably navigate and use Badaboom! to its fullest potential, we have created easy-to-follow video tutorials so teachers can conveniently learn how to use our game features. We also provide these tutorials in a downloadable PDF format, complete with written instructions and clear diagrams for your convenience!
Try it now at
Claim the core
Player cores are vital. Claim an opponent’s core and take over ALL their cells. Protect your own core, otherwise you’ll need to start again!
As the pedagogical value of game-based learning continues to be further recognized and disseminated, our PALMS team continues to be proud of one of our entries in this area: CELL GAME. Combining education and strategic thinking, Cell Game is an excellent tool to engage students to learn actively, intently and competitively!
This educational tool is convenient for teachers. The batch upload feature of Cell Game allows teachers to upload many questions all at once. Our well-designed question bank boasts 6 different question types, with responses that include math handwriting recognition and text entries. Teachers can also easily reuse question folders to create multiple boards for different sections and classes!
To further the immersive and engaging features of Cell Game, we have added various gaming elements to further promote strategic thinking, whilst maintaining a clear gameplay process. These include:
Students can add a layer of protection to their claimed cells by answering a medium difficulty question.
Follow us for the latest Cell Game updates, tips and more!
Break the cell chain
1.if the path from a player’s cell to their main player core is broken, that cell is lost. Students can strategize to break off the chains of their opponents, or widen their cell paths to prevent from losing their own cells!
We believe Cell Game includes the best balance of game-based elements to immerse students, and educational questions for students to progress and advance academically. Watch students have fun learning and thriving together!
Try Cell Game at https://the-cell-game.com/!
Our PALMS project continues to support the enhancement of teaching and learning, by optimising the learning experience through innovative and creative project initiatives and activities as well as workshops and discussions that explore emerging trends and new best practices through innovative teaching and active learning pedagogies. To that end, our primary objective is creating a forum for academic dialogue, faculty collaborations and exchange on the systematic monitoring and evaluation of teaching and learning outcomes and methodological approaches to the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL). Critically important to the success of our project has been the dissemination ofscholarly outputand publications in the Scholarshipof Teaching and Learning(SoTL), demonstrating the significance and impact of our collective work(http://palms.polyu.edu.hk/publications-sotl/).
Moreover, to create maximum impact with our work whilst using the pedagogical and technological tools and instruments we have developed, we continue to engage in dialogue with our project partners and work closely with them on the dissemination of our project findings and outcomes through joint publications and by promoting the project’s outputs and results. This includes actively engaging in various project activities and events including workshops, conferences and symposia.With regard to our research activity, as evidenced by our publication list, we have been able to initiate and effectively build up a line of research bydeveloping quantitatively rigorous and valid methods to assess and evaluate technology-enhanced active learning strategies on student learning outcomes.Moreover, we intend to extend this line of research by continuing to explorethe optimum methods by which cutting-edge innovations in technology are able to support, enrich and transform teaching and learningintoan engaging and active learning process.There are also a number of other avenues of research which we are currently pursing, for instance we are in the process of drafting ameta-analysispaperof studies on the effects of active learning onAsian students' performance in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects. The meta-analysis study includes a systematic review of papers related to various active learning approaches and instructional methods and specifically the effect these approaches have on Asian students' performance in STEM related subjects.Webelieve these lines of research would provide us with a better understanding ofpedagogical and technological considerations,so as to inform curriculum design, instruction, assessment of student learning.
Furthermore, we believe new directions in our research are warranted and have submitted a proposal for a special issue to a technology-based journal on “Navigating the COVID-19 virtual teaching landscape with technology-enabled active learning strategies.” The intent of this call is to promote sharing of the most current, evidence-based research, best practices and critical issues arising from the necessity to navigate the COVID-19 virtual teaching landscape, for example, supporting remote teaching, online learning and virtual classrooms with technology-enhanced active learning strategies. This includes elucidating and synthesising different perspectives and insights on technology-enhanced active learning strategies, including the use of innovative pedagogies, emerging technologies and instructional design methodologies and the influence of those methodologies on active learning. In the face of the pandemic, these issues are considered as critical for instructional designers, educators and educational researchers. We believe this topic is not only well-timed and appropriate given the prevalent global academic scenario, but also poignantly relevant to the present time and context.
Finally, we are delighted to announce that our paper entitled “Examining the Effect of Flipped Instruction on Students’ Learning Approaches Using Interactive Lecture Videos in a Mathematics Course in a STEM Learning Context” has been accepted for publication in the Journal on Excellence in College Teaching.Our paper explores the effect that the flipped method of instruction has on students’ learning approaches,using interactive math lecture videos in a second-year vector calculus course in Hong Kong.Akey objective of this research was to determine if the use ofinteractivevideosis a key predictor of a deep learning approach in this field. In conclusion, our study foundevidencetosupport thesuppositionthatstudents generally perceived the flipped learning method of using interactive videos beneficial to their learning and understanding of mathematical concepts through deep learning and deep strategy approaches.
New Directions and Pursuits in theScholarship of Teaching and Learning(SoTL)
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