Award for Teaching Innovations in E-learning 2017-18
Dr Michael Pittman
Department of Earth Sciences
''My teaching approach is centred on inspiring and engaging students because I believe this opens the doors to deeper life-long learning, the most important type of learning.''
Dinosaur Ecosystemsis a HKU Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) which I produced and teach.This e-course makes use of several learner-focused innovations to deliver a direct, immersive and engaging learning experience. We leveraged the e-learning format to make heavy use of field-based learning so students could see palaeontological work in action. This involved visits to world-renowned field sites and institutions in more than 5 countries, including the remote Gobi Desert of Northern China and the American Museum of Natural History in New York. The online format also allowed us to give learners a unique perspective of cutting-edge developments in the field through direct connections with myself, co-instructor Xing Xu and 20+ international experts. As non-compulsory courses, student engagement is a paramount consideration for MOOCs. We addressed this through a relaxed learning experience using bite-sized, content-rich videos with clear and concise learning objectives. We employed extensive grassroots community activities to encourage peer-to-peer learning and developed a game app to allow younger people to be involved.