More than 100 local tertiary students have pledged to promote computational thinking (CT) education and offer teaching assistance in local primary schools as ambassadors for the CoolThink@JC programme at City University of Hong Kong (CityU).
“The ambassadors can strengthen their communication and problem-solving skills by participating in CoolThink@JC," said Professor Matthew Lee Kwok-on
, CityU Vice-President (Development and External Relations), at the inauguration ceremony on 11 February at CityU.
"Earlier exposure to the new trend in CT will enhance the competitiveness of the ambassadors. They will become the bedrock of computational thinking education in Hong Kong,” added Professor Lee, who officiated at the ceremony alongside Professor Daniel Lai
, Programme Director of CoolThink@JC.
Professor Matthew Lee welcomes the ambassadors and the guests.
Competition for selection was tough. Only 140 students were shortlisted from over 500 applications received from nine local higher education institutions. Successful candidates had to pass interviews and tests on CT knowledge, and undertake training and practice sessions.
Professor Lai said CT education would equip students with the knowledge and mindset to be innovators instead of consumers of information technology. He was confident that the ambassadors could help teachers at the front line of teaching.
The first batch of ambassadors, who come from a variety of disciplines, was deployed in January. "I learned how to inspire students to think more. When they know that we are around to help anytime, they become more willing and active to learn,” said Christy Kwan Yuet-yi, who is studying for a Bachelor of Arts in Education for Sustainability at The Education University of Hong Kong (EdUHK), during the ceremony.
Jeremy Leung Ka-ming from CityU’s Department of Information Systems said business students rarely got the chance to mingle with primary school kids, let alone teaching them.
“I rehearsed for the lessons at home, both physically and mentally. Now I know how to prepare myself to take up challenging tasks and avoid mistakes,” he said.
Ambassadors (from right) Raymond Liu Ying-wo, Jennifer Yung Ka-yi, Jeremy Leung Ka-ming and Christy Kwan Yuet-yi share their co-teaching experiences.
Mr Chen Yi-hsin, Curriculum Developer at Baptist Rainbow Primary School, said he was delighted that the ambassadors have helped to facilitate authentic interactive learning in the IT classroom. The ambassadors had made sure that every primary school student in the classes was treated according to his or her ability, he said.
The CoolThink@JC programme is a HK$216 million project funded by The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust. It aims to promote CT and coding skills in primary schools. The Trust is collaborating with CityU, Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US, and EdUHK.
The four-year initiative will train 100 teachers at 32 pilot schools for the benefit of 16,500 Primary Four to Six students. The long-term objective is to establish CT as part of Hong Kong’s overall primary school curriculum.
Throughout the programme, CityU will provide teaching and learning support as well as parent education activities; MIT and EdUHK will collaborate on curriculum design and teacher development.