Department of Communication Studies lecturers Dr Kimmy Cheng and Mr Yan Lau teamed up with Department of Computer Science lecturer Dr Martin Choy to design and develop an online learning platform SPEAK! It was one of 1,041 projects submitted to the Reimagine Education competition and went on to win the Bronze Award in the Arts and Humanities category. HKBU is the only Hong Kong institution to win the award this year.
SPEAK! aims to help students master skills of public speaking with three components—video sharing, learning games and interactive exercises.
To cater to students’ needs, when the team thought about the content of SPEAK!, they did not only consider areas in which students should improve in their public speaking from teachers’ perspective, they also collected information on what students wanted to learn from questionnaires. Mr Yan Lau said that designing a platform which satisfies the needs of most students and attracts them to use it continually are huge challenges, as each student has his or her own learning progress, strength, weakness and interest.
With the support from HKBU’s Teaching Development Grant, the team began the project in September 2016. The whole process which included research, filming sharing videos, layout design, adjusting content of interactive games and testing was completed in about one year. They adopted the concept of a virtual pet, with score accumulation and level progression system, so that students can witness their own learning progress, gain satisfaction and stay motivated when using SPEAK! They also applied eye tracking and voice recognition technologies in the interactive exercises, enabling students to immediately recognise areas they need to improve upon.
Other team members including analyst programmers Ms Chan Chor-kiu, Mr Vincent Tsang and website and graphic designer Mr Victor Leung, are taking the next step to develop a greater variety of online activities and a predictive learning analytics system for learners to identify areas for improvement. They are also considering opening the platform to HKBU students and members of the public.