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The Learning Conference 2003

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Presentation Details


Impact of Information Technology on Curriculum with Special Reference to Primary Mathematics in Hong Kong

HC Koo.

This paper is part of the captioned research and aims at investigating and assessing the effect of information technology in education (abbreviated as IT in subsequent text) on learning and teaching including the academic performance of primary students in Hong Kong. The research has been carried out since 1997 and has several components. First, a questionnaire was used to collect the views and attitudes of educators in Hong Kong to the use of IT. More than 100 and 180 mathematics panel heads took part in the survey. The findings were presented and released in ALT-C 2001 at University of Edinbury. Second, the research methodology also consisted of case studies on IT. Three primary schools at different levels of IT implementation were visited at various stages of the research to examine the effect of using IT on learning and teaching. The writer also included his experience as inspector of schools. The third component of the research focused on the analysis of the use of IT in 30 primary schools inspected in the school year 2000/01 to ascertain the impact of IT on the academic performance of students in Hong Kong.

The Constructivist Theory advocated by Bruner (1986) and other educationalists is echoed by Doll's Postmodern Model (1993). Doll(1993) is of the view that the 21st century curriculum should desirably be post-modern in nature: open, rich, creative and characterised by a classroom that promotes reflection, higher-order thinking skills and self-organisation. It has been found that the theory could more effectively be implemented with the use of IT in the classroom. Using IT intelligently in education not only provides unique opportunities to individualise instruction and placing learners in open-ended student-centred investigations but provides constructivist learning environments.

In the United Kingdom, considerable claims have been made about the potential contributions of IT to students' learning by policy makers, researchers and teachers. In 1994, the body advising the government on the use of IT, NCET (now the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (BECTA)) published a compendium of research findings entitled 'IT works!'. The report made as many as 27 assertions with supportive references from research. These assertions try to reaffirm and consolidate a belief in the educational potential of new technologies.

The CEO Forum Reports (1997 to 2001) on assessing and monitoring progress toward integrating technology in American's schools asserted that “Schools have made tremendous progress in bringing computers into the classroom and connecting to the internet. There is an excellent opportunity for schools to integrate quality digital content into an exciting curriculum that challenges students to high standards….”. Initial research indicates that when correctly applied, technology can have a positive effect on student learning, particularly in enhancing higher order thinking skills. Longitudinal research results of the statewide implementations of technology with large-scale integration across the curriculum in Idaho and West Virginia have shown a corresponding boost in test scores across subjects and disciplines. Educational technology provides educators with valuable tools to teach, develop and reinforce 21st century skills by dramatically altering the options for inquiry, analysis, and expression.

A holistic review of the school curriculum has been conducted during 1999 and 2000 in Hong Kong. The final document “Learning to Learn – The Way Forward in Curriculum Development” was published in 2000. Recommendations set out in the report emphasise the actions that would have impact on effective learning, teaching and assessment in the context of Hong Kong schools. Amongst them, the following four key tasks are highlighted: Moral and Civic Education; Reading to Learn; Project Learning and Information Technology for Interactive Learning. It is not surprising that the last task has been given high priority in most schools in recent years. Hong Kong has substantially improved the student:computer ratio from 53:1 in 1997 to 13.4:1 in primary schools in 2001. There has also been an accompanying improvement in the IT competence of the teachers since the implementation of the government's 5-year strategy on IT in education. There are three levels of teacher competency: 'Basic' level of IT competency, 'Intermediate' level and 'Upper intermediate' level and 'Advanced' level. By the 2000/01 school year, all primary teachers have attained the 'Basic' level and by 2002/03, about 75% have reached 'Intermediate level'. However, the paradigm shift in learning and teaching has not been satisfactorily achieved. Many schools still considered IT as a move to technologize education rather than an opportunity to re-engineer education and to improve classroom teaching.

The third part of the research focused on the study of thirty primary schools in Hong Kong which were inspected in the school year of 2000/01. The level of implementation of IT and the performance of their students were compared to find out the effect of IT on the performance of primary students.

This paper focuses on the second and third part of the research. It covers the main findings of the case studies of the three schools, and the effect of IT on the academic performance of students in Hong Kong. The impact of IT on the primary mathematics curriculum will also be discussed.


HC Koo  (China)

University of Durham

  • Information technology
  • Curriculum
  • Learning and teaching
  • Constructivist theory
  • Postmodern model
  • Higher order thinking skills
  • Academic performance
Person as Subject
  • KOO Hok-chun, Dennis

(30 min Conference Paper, English)