Learning and learning environment

During this event, three young scholars from different faculties gave public lectures on the subtheme from different perspectives:

  1. Enhancement of learning via smart learning environment and learning analytics

  2. Enhancement of teaching through virtual environment

  3. Fostering epistemic and conceptual growth in the knowledge building environment

Date: 20 Jan 2014

Time: 12:30 pm to 2:30 p.m.

Venue: Room 204, Rumme Shaw Building, The University of Hong Kong


  • Topic 1: Enhancement of Learning via Smart Learning Environment and Learning Analytics

  • Topic 2:  Enhancement of teaching through virtual environment

  • Topic 3: Fostering epistemic and conceptual growth in the knowledge building environment

Topic 1: Enhancement of Learning via Smart Learning Environment and Learning Analytics

By Dr. Chi-Un Lei, Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering


Learning activities can be affected by student’s transferable skills and environmental conditions. This research aims to improve and assess student’s performance of activities inside them via technologies.

To this end, we have developed a cyber-physical system (CPS) for a smart laboratory environment. In this presentation, we firstly present the CPS system. The proposed CPS can regulate the thermal comfort via hardware nodes and robots. Although our focus is on laboratories, this research can be applied for the creation of smart campus.

Meanwhile, learning analytics is shown to facilitate learning through analyzing student’s behaviors. In the second part of the presentation, we explore the possibility of using a computational linguistic tool Coh-Metrix for analyzing student writing skills in a common core curriculum course. In the future, we aim to help students improve their writing skills by developing a technology-assisted essay marking system.

About the Speaker

Chi-Un Lei received his B.Eng. (first class honors) and Ph.D. in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from the University of Hong Kong in 2006 and 2011, respectively. He is now a Research Scientist at the same department. His current research interests include cyber-physical system and engineering education. He was awarded with the Best Paper Award in IEEE International Conference on Teaching, Assessment and Learning for Engineering 2013.

Topic 2:  Enhancement of teaching through virtual environment

By Mr. Brant Knutzen, Faculty of Education


This talk reviews the latest simulation technologies recently introduced at HKU for medical training. Teaching development studies for Biochemistry and Pathology are currently being developed in the virtual environment of Second Life on “HKU Medicine Island”. These studies seek to supplement classroom instruction by blending in experiential learning in an immersive environment. The Moodle LMS platform is used to set the context, define the problem for inquiry-based learning, launch the virtual environment, and debrief the students using quiz and discussion activities. We are also exploring the frontier of medical simulation training using the Unity3D virtual environment.

About the Speaker

Brant Knutzen has been involved in eLearning for 30 years as software developer, corporate trainer, and academic. He currently teaches on an MSc IT in Education program at HKU, and his research areas include the design, implementation and evaluation of highly engaging blended eLearning environments for schools and higher education. Current projects include custom Moodle plugins to motivate student engagement with online discussions, and the design and development of simulations in the virtual environment for training medical students. See Brant.Knutzen.se for more information.


Topic 3: Fostering epistemic and conceptual growth in the knowledge building environment

By Ms. Feng Lin, Faculty of Educaion


One important goal of science education is to help students understand the nature of science itself. The previous research found that students’ epistemology of science varies from viewing science as concrete activities to viewing it as constructing explanations of the natural world. The current study builds on and extends beyond these studies to examine how students understand science as a collective theory building process and its relation to students’ learning. To foster more sophisticated epistemic and conceptual understanding, this study designed a knowledge-building environment, where students worked collaboratively on pursuing ideas and knowledge with the support of Knowledge Forum® (a computer-supported learning platform), and reflected scientific progress with their own knowledge building inquiry. The relation between epistemology of science, conceptual understanding, and knowledge building will also be discussed.

About the Speaker

Feng Lin is a 4th year PhD student in the Faculty of Education, working on a thesis topic about “knowledge building and epistemology of science”. This presentation is part of her PhD work. Her areas of interest include knowledge building, collaborative learning, personal epistemology, nature of science, and conceptual change.