Important Update on Experiential Learning for All PGDE Students

29 August 2016

Dear All,

I am very sorry that I didn’t make myself clearer last Thursday evening when I was sharing some of the potential Experiential Learning (EL) projects with you all. I had explained that I wanted to include Part-time (PT) and Full-time (FT) students in the orientation because we hoped to share the big picture of EL with you all. Some of you may have got the wrong message and I take responsibility for that. It was a pity so many of you left at that point and I felt bad for the speaker from UNICEF who was hoping to share his work with you all and how we might contribute. His was an example of an internship that is open to all PGDE students. I should have asked you to stay for the Q&A where all this would have been explained.

UNICEF’s project and all the others we mentioned ARE open to every PGDE student, but there is a clear difference between the FT and PT PGDE timetables and structure. FT students have to do their projects in a fixed period of time this semester as per the timetable. The projects from World Vision, UNICEF and Ocean Park (and many others on the EL website) are being offered to ALL PGDE students who are free during the EL block (17th Oct-25th Nov), but of course for those of you on the PT programme and in FT work at schools etc. then the 6-week block that was described for the Ocean Park project cannot apply (and there is no facility for students to work in Ocean Park in the evenings etc.).

I intended to take you all through the possibilities later in the orientation, but I will do so now through this email. It is a long one, but I hope you will read it carefully and that it will help put your minds at rest. I will also post the information here on the EL website.

-The EL component is a compulsory 6-credit bearing course for ALL students on the PGDE programme. All information about projects, requirements, assignments and resources is available on our EL website where we have also uploaded the PPT from Thursday’s orientation.

Please read this EL website carefully as the listed projects clearly state whether they are open to UG, PGDE FT and/or PGDE PT. All these NGOs accept volunteers at ANY time which will suit PGDE PT students better. We are happy to try and work with you to make contact with these groups if you so wish. All you have to do is ask us (our contacts are at the bottom of this message).

PGDE FT students are expected to choose projects from the EL website OR nominate their own projects (choosing projects on website by 9th Sept or self-nominating a project by Sept 30th). Language majors on the FT programme will have their immersion programme as their EL block (students exempted from immersion MUST take a project here in HK along with the other FT students).

PGDE PT students who are free during the EL block (Oct 17-Nov 25) are welcome to apply for ANY project on the EL website. These projects require daily attendance and commitment for 6 weeks etc., which is why PT students working in schools are not expected to apply (we will NOT be granting you leave from your school duties!). PGDE PT students are welcome to propose their own EL project (using the attached form). The deadline for PT students is 31st October so you have time to consider options.

We understand how busy PT students all are, especially those with regular teaching commitments, so please browse the following self-nomination projects for possible ideas for your 6-credit EL component which will be completed over two years. PT students have a lot of flexibility as you can choose where and when your EL project takes place. We suggest semester 2 / summer of Yr1 as Yr2 can be busy with other assignments and school visits.

EL Possibilities for self-nomination projects:

Both full-time and part-time PGDE students are free to nominate your own projects using the attached form and posting the completed form to the MOODLE site/link that is on the document which will be announced to you soon. We ask that you talk to your Methods tutors about your ideas before submitting online.

We also ask that your self-nominated project is NOT something that you always do (like an annual school picnic, or an assembly etc.) and it should NOT be only about your teaching or classroom work (such as teaching a new class, or working with a new textbook, pedagogical innovation etc.). We remind you of our key message at Thursday’s briefing about choosing something ‘unfamiliar’ to you, and we are looking for you to explore other learning spaces that are outside the normal school context. We would hope that the project you propose allows for professional and personal growth and that you learn something new from the process, and just as importantly, in the process give something to the community or a particular group in the community.

Therefore, the EL project should produce a sense of service or community engagement.

What will I do for an EL project?

– You might propose working on an Other Learning Experiences (OLE) project in your school – perhaps planning a new one or modifying an existing one. We know that many schools have been engaging with community work and overseas trips and you are welcome to build on one of these if you elect to adopt it as your EL project. You may find more ideas through these voluntary work platforms: a) and b)

– You might think about proposing a class visit / educational activity

with an NGO like UNICEF, CROSSROADS, OXFAM etc. or NGOs / Companies that actually provide EL experience to students like Ocean Park. This would involve planning and implementation and would constitute an innovative EL opportunity for you and your school students, if possible. We suggest that you try and negotiate such a project with your school Principal or panel chair, in the context of your own professional development and the benefits for your students.

– If you would like us to approach an NGO on your behalf we would be happy to do so. Ocean Park hosts hundreds of school visits (primary and secondary) that focus on conservation and education and we could work to put you together with Ocean Park and other NGOs like them for a potential EL project between you, your school and the community.

– You might propose volunteering your own time with an NGO (perhaps an organisation you have already worked with, or one you would like to work with). Your EL project does not have to be school-related. It would then be voluntary work between you and an NGO of your choice (or one from the EL website) and you could complete this at any time over the course of the 2- year PT PGDE.

Similarly you could propose doing a short internship with one/some of these NGOs (perhaps 2-3 weeks or so) and maybe do some voluntary work with an organisation of your choice or from the website (such as UNICEF, OXFAM etc.). We hope that you will see these as invaluable opportunities.

This year some of our UG students gave up a couple of hours every other Saturday to read to young children for Kids4Kids in HK and that would be an excellent EL project that could be done easily over a few months of your course. Ronald McDonald House Charities also does this for underprivileged children in HK and we have worked with them too – you can see their details and ontact on the EL website. We can also put you in touch with them if you so wish.

When will I undertake EL?

PGDE FT students MUST complete 6 weeks as s timetabled, but timing for PGDE PT is more flexible given the longer duration of the PT course and the fact that many of you are in schools where EL and OLE projects already exist.

We suggest using your summer or another holiday or it could be a regular voluntary service over time (evenings or weekends etc.). We are focusing on the quality of the voluntary work or project and NOT a fixed period of time/days so please don’t ask how long a project needs to be because they will all be different.

How will it work?

– You can do any of the above projects on your own (individual) or with classmates (small group of 4 max) so that is also flexible. You could also work with students from other disciplines if you so wish.

– The assessment tasks are similar across FT and PT courses. PT students will have more time and space to plan your projects and are not restricted to one block of EL. The assessment descriptors and criteria can be accessed on the EL website and are labelled EL DOC#1-DOC#4. Please familiarise yourself with them as they will give you clear input on each task. The final poster presentation for FT students will be May 4th 2017. The final poster presentations for PT students will be semester 2, 2018.

We are here to answer any queries you have so please contact Candace, Jessie, Ivy or me if you have any questions or worries.

Our emails:
Jessie: (please note that Jessie will join us FT in October)

Best wishes,
Dr Gary James Harfitt
Associate Professor,
Assistant Dean (Experiential Learning)
Division of English Language Education
Faculty of Education
The University of Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Tel: 3917 5729

PPT-EL Orientation Talk
EL DOC#1_Experiential Learning_Summary of tasks
EL DOC#2_Grade descriptions for Pre-departure essay
EL DOC#3_Grade Descriptors for Reflections and Blog entries
EL DOC#4_Grade Descriptors for Poster Presentations_group and individual
EL Project Nomination Form