The Experiential Learning team is very proud to introduce you to our Experiential Learning (EL) initiatives and here we outline the Faculty’s EL programme and the exciting opportunities it presents.
Since 2015 we have been actively promoting EL as a crucial element in teacher preparation programmes across the Faculty. From the academic year 2019-2020, EL is a compulsory part of many programmes, such as the double degrees at undergraduate (UG) level and the postgraduate diploma in education (PGDE) full-time programme. In other programmes, the projects may be stand-alone credit-bearing electives or built into an existing course. Other projects posted on our EL website may be entirely voluntary, and we will continue to promote new initiatives, so please keep checking for updates and new projects. We hope you can take some time to explore some of the learning opportunities that are open to you and to plan your studies so that you can include some EL during your time with us. We are very proud to say that about 2,000 students from every discipline and programme have engaged with EL projects in this Faculty since 2016.
We hope that you will all come to see the value of EL during your time with us and that you will feel inspired to participate. One of the most impressive features of our projects has been the inter-disciplinary nature of the projects and courses as students from different programmes and even Faculties come together to collaborate and co-construct knowledge on local and international EL courses. Please take time to read some of the feedback from our students because their sharing of experiences of different EL projects in this handbook clearly demonstrates how much our beginning teachers have grown personally and professionally through this process of learning together. It is a unique chance to work with different students from a range of years and backgrounds as most of your regular education courses will be discipline-based or with classmates from the same academic year.
We see EL as the third layer of learning away from more conventional models (campus learning and field experience in schools) whereby the community outside the university becomes an ‘inter-space’ for knowledge building and the source of multiple learning opportunities. We hope that through participating in these projects you will better understand real-world environments, better integrate understanding of theory and practice and broaden your local and global outlook. All of our projects are aimed at developing the core skills (both personal and professional) that support you in the process of becoming a 21st century teacher. Teaching is never only about acquiring technical skills; it is also about acknowledging and utilising the wealth of learning opportunities in the world and taking a positive approach to challenges in our schools and the wider communities that they belong to.
Core qualities that are highly relevant to teaching (and life!) are evident in many of our EL projects. These include passion, commitment, community-based knowledge, cultural awareness, collaboration, appreciation of diversity and individual differences etc. The settings for our EL projects may be non-local, overseas and/or in the Mainland, but many are also here in Hong Kong because we really do believe that building a bridge between our university and the local community is a benefit to us all. Let’s not forget that as teachers we are serving the local community, so it surely makes sense to get to know our local communities better because it is where our future students will all come from.
We want our projects to push you outside your comfort zones so that you come to understand more about your strengths and also those areas in which you are less confident. Our projects are closely supervised by the EL team, your tutors and by our many community partners in Hong Kong and the region and all of our credit-bearing EL electives are taught courses. We will walk alongside you on these EL courses and we also learn from you.
We hope that you will be as excited about this initiative as we are. EL is a fantastic opportunity for all of you, so we encourage you to find out about the menu of projects on offer this year, and sign up for a project that really interests you. Some projects are offered each year and some are offered every other year so take time to find out about what’s on offer and when so you can plan your studies accordingly. We ask you to approach EL with an open mind, an eagerness to learn, and a willingness to challenge yourself. We look forward to meeting you in the coming months and do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or worries about EL. Good luck – and enjoy the experience!
Experiential Learning Team, Faculty of Education