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Remarks by Chairperson, Selection Panel of the 2012 UGC Teaching Award at the UGC Dinner cum Presentation Ceremony of the 2012 UGC Teaching Award

UGC Dinner cum Presentation Ceremony
of the UGC Teaching Award
6 September 2012

Remarks by Prof William Kirby
Chairperson, UGC Teaching Award Selection Panel 2012

Edward, Council Chairmen, Heads, ladies and gentlemen,

    Good evening.

2. I am honoured to have the opportunity again to chair the Selection Panel for the 2012 UGC Teaching Award. It is my privilege to work with the other Members of the Panel for this very important endeavour of the UGC to give due recognition to teaching excellence.

3. We celebrate tonight the art and science of teaching. We celebrate great teaching, be it high-tech, low-tech, or no-tech. For universities are places where faculty and students meet, and learn, one from another. And no great university can be without great teachers. You all know this, for this is a room filled with those dedicated to teaching and learning.

4. With the support of the eight UGC-funded institutions, we received 15 nominations from the institutions this year. Our Panel's assessment was based on three criteria which represent the important aspects of teaching: first, the adoption of learner-centred approaches; second, curriculum design; and third, demonstration of achievement and leadership in teaching and scholarly contribution to and impact on the development of effective teaching practice. Our panel looked for evidence of noteworthy teaching practices, and sought out those who have clearly raised the standard of teaching and had the pleasure of sharing their success with others.

5. Everyone of our nominees has demonstrated impressive performance, and it is no easy task to choose the best of best among these distinguished colleagues. Everyone of our nominees was clearly deserving of recognition. The Panel had long and thorough discussions before reaching a consensus on the three awardees who were exceptionally outstanding. Their teaching is inspirational and innovative. Those who receive this Award also convinced the Selection Panel that their plans for using the award's grant of $500,000 each would not primarily be used for a vacation in the south of France (though they surely deserve that!) but would be invested in new learning and teaching initiatives that can make an important contribution to their own institutions as well as the entire sector.

6. Today is indeed a big day for the awardees. Without further ado, let me announce the awardees of the 2012 UGC Teaching Award:

  • Professor Shekhar Madhukar KUMTA, Deputy Head, Musculoskeletal Tumor Team, Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

  • Professor Kumta's approach represents a true melding of research, practice and education. He has made extensive use of e-learning platforms which simulate complex cases to bridge the gap between the textbook learning and the clinical teaching. He prepares his students to work with real patients. The Panel was very impressed that Professor Kumta engages not only the mind but also the soul of his students. In one particularly inspiring project, he helped students and interns develop empathy with distressed or dying patients, in a manner that students found transformative. His work is widely respected both locally and internationally, and his innovative E-learning tools have been adopted by teachers in several universities both inside and outside Hong Kong.

    Professor Kumta's team has developed a "mobile-apps-making" platform for teachers to convert their teaching materials for integration into apps without the assistance of programmers. He plans to spend his award grant to enable teachers in the Healthcare and Health Science disciplines across institutions in Hong Kong to plan and develop mobile-learning resources and to analyse the impact of such platform. You will surely be hearing much more about this work in years to come.

    Congratulations, Professor Kumta!

  • Professor LIU Zhi-Qiang (劉志強教授), Professor, School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong

  • In my country, we think of Special Interest Groups as a bad thing. Professor Liu has pioneered innovative co-curricular activities - what he calls Special Interest Groups - to provide his students with up-to-date applied experiences and long-term professional work in the field of creative media. The Groups ensure peer mentorship and feedback as well as collaboration among teams of students. Beyond these Groups, Professor Liu initiated the annual "Playful Media" and "Industry Nights" for students to exhibit publicly their work and to build entrepreneurship. These make learning at once fun and productive. The students' engagement in these co-curricular activities has been as intensive as the external recognition of their work has been extensive.

    Consider yourselves all part of a future Special Interest Group. For Professor Liu plans to spend the award grant to engage other Colleges, Faculties and Schools in the City University of Hong Kong and other institutions into these Groups.

    Congratulations, Professor Liu!

  • Dr David M POMFRET, Associate Professor, School of Humanities (History), The University of Hong Kong

  • Dr Pomfret is a noted historian of youth - which, as you might imagine, is a very young field. His scholarly interest in the changing nature of youth has led to a radical reimagining of the history curriculum, and of the learning process.

    Dr Pomfret has demonstrated a powerfully compelling use of new technologies in education that integrate students and teachers into a real partnership of teachers and learners. He introduced what he calls RIVAL-"Realtime Interactive Video and Lecture", in which teaching takes the form of interaction between teachers and students, and among students, employing videos, movies, graphs, stills, music, text, and almost anything you can think of. The "realtime interactive" part is realized by getting students to respond to images and videos presented on the spot. His students also get their fingernails dirty. To do Hong Kong history, they go on scavenger hunts, finding the material history of Hong Kong's past amid the glitter of its present. (Maybe this would be an interesting way forward for the so-called "港民教育"). Dr Pomfret has a record of sustained contribution through his intellectual leadership at a programme, faculty and institutional level. In his many leadership roles, he has championed, and been a model for, the importance of quality teaching.

    Dr Pomfret plans to use the award grant to engage teachers and students in a project exploring the needs of the rising generation of students, including how technology is changing students' approaches to learning, and how teachers can use technology to at least keep up with their students and, ideally, to challenge them in new ways.

    Congratulations, Dr Pomfret!

7. The awardees will share their teaching philosophies with us shortly. Before I pass the floor to the Chairman, UGC, I would like to say again that our Selection Panel Members agreed that the achievements and proposals of all the 15 nominees were extraordinarily impressive indeed. We celebrate not only our awardees, but an impressive group of finalists. We also celebrate the commitment - strong and growing - of Hong Kong's institutions to teaching and learning. The finalists of the Award are invited to stand up to receive applause from the guests.

8. Lastly, I would like to thank the UGC for entrusting me with the work of the Selection Panel, and colleagues in the Selection Panel - Richard, Clifton, Brian and Isabella, for the generous contribution of their time, effort and wisdom during the selection process. It has been indeed a pleasure for all of us to become acquainted with the work of such master teachers.

9. I now pass the floor back to Edward for the prize presentation ceremony. Thank you.