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Monthly Advice : Give your students one more chance

【明報專訊】Let's take a look at the following experiences from these famous people. Thomas Edison failed 10,000 times before inventing a commercially viable electric lightbulb. James Dyson spent 15 years creating 5,126 versions of Dual Cyclone vacuum cleaners that failed before he made one that worked. Henry Ford filed for bankruptcy twice before he became successful in the automotive industry.

Do you see what these people have in common? Not only did they all fail before and have second chances to succeed, but they all learned by reflecting on their failures.

I guess we all had times when we said "I wish I could do it all over again..." after in-class presentations because we made reflections on our previous learning experiences. However, did we get our second chances after making self-reflection in the education system under which we were brought up?

Unfortunately, most people cannot recall that they were given second chances after reflecting on their previous experiences. Even worse, some people have not had a lot of opportunities to present their ideas and thoughts to their teachers. The ironic truth is that teachers often use up the lesson time to teach what they need to teach in the curriculum and help students to understand what they are preaching but they do not have time to listen to students's answers, thoughts or ideas. Ideally, teachers should be more student‑centred but with such limited time in lessons, we need to find a better way out to make our students become more engaged in their learning.

There is a free video platform where students can share their ideas and learn together with their peers even beyond their classroom walls.

Teachers can assign tasks or ask questions with either texts or videos. Students complete the assignments by recording or uploading videos they have produced. Using videos to submit their homework is indeed very student-centred where students can always evaluate and reflect on the previous recordings and make improvement if necessary. This allows students to "think about thinking". We are no longer talking about second chances but unlimited chances.

Another advantage of using the platform is that some "invisible" or "forgotten" students who are not confidently ready or who do not get much opportunity to present in public can get more practice at expressing themselves. When their peers have uploaded their videos to the platform, they can always watch other classmates' video recordings and learn from them. It can also end the difficulties that some students experience when asked to spell the words which might otherwise prevent them from expressing ideas in a text.

For teachers, using the platform helps them make better use of the time to allow more student‑centred activities or even to catch up with the teaching schedule without taking away their students' opportunities to express themselves.

This platform takes education to a new level. My students enjoy using this platform and some students even do homework while commuting. However, with an upload file size limit of 250MB on this platform, students and parents do face difficulties in shrinking their videos in order to upload them successfully. It would be much more convenient if this platform could auto-resize the videos for users in the near future.

■Chu Tsz-wing, the Chief Headmaster, Simon Lee Chun-yiu , Head of Science, St. Hilary's Primary School and VNSAA St. Hilary's School

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