Teaching in Hong Kong, Day 3 (Expeditions and Yum Cha!)

We’ve built this course so that, while the students work reasonably hard, there are still days off and time to explore the new country – why on Earth would you take students to a different city that they¬†then don’t get to see? Today’s expedition was MTR down to Tsim Sha Tsui and on to the Star Ferry to take the classic trip across the Hong Kong Harbour. It was a gorgeous day and we sat up the front to get good breeze and view – here they are!

Taking in the (warm) sea air.

Taking in the (warm) sea air.

There’s always something happening in Hong Kong and, on the walk across the land fill towards City Hall, we ran across a movie being shot. We watched it until we chased away for “getting in the way” which I think is movie-making speak for “eh, go away”. After some questionable navigation due to the many changes in the area¬†(sorry, everyone) we made it to Maxim’s and got a seat straight away. Fortinately, one of the students speaks Hokkien and some Mandarin which, combined with some pointing, got us an amazing feast of yum cha. Here’s the view from my seat:

The Panoramic Yum Cha Experience at Maxim's!

The Panoramic Yum Cha Experience at Maxim’s!

It was great to relax and just hang out as we talked about all sorts of things and just enjoyed spending some time in a new place. The course starts again in earnest tomorrow at 9am, and the students have some work to do, but I left them to wander in Central – I think most of them were heading for the Peak as it was a most delightful day! Here’s a picture of what it looked like as we walked around:

Buildings are big in Hong Kong.

Buildings are big in Hong Kong.


Teaching in Hong Kong, Day 2

Well, all of the students appeared again today so everyone made it through the night and managed to make it back to class. Hooray! More seriously, I’m now tracking the student attendance (which we usually don’t do) in order to make sure that I know immediately if something goes awry. The students are also happy to move as small groups, which gives me a little more peace of mind. I’m not here to chaperone them and they are adults AND Hong Kong is a safe city but you always have that niggling concern when you are, even vaguely, in loco parentis.

I now have all of the photo releases back so I can show you some pictures of the class in action. The students are in two table groups of 5: Team Elephant and Team Mongoose, because I refuse to number or alphabetise them. (The students are going along with this, before anyone wonders.) I like to get the students up and working on the boards, as well as doing group discussion at their tables, and we are getting the groups to cross-present, share ideas and be a lot more discursive than we would in a traditional class. You can see the groups are also checking out each other’s work in the photos (which is both allowed and encouraged – the group formations are as arbitrary as their names).

Deep in thought, a team comes up with a description of underlying Internet infrastructure.

Deep in thought, a team comes up with a description of underlying Internet infrastructure.

Here, the two groups are sketching out what they think happens with Web traffic - BEFORE we do the lesson.

Here, the two groups are sketching out what they think happens with Web traffic – BEFORE we do the lesson.

This final picture is here because it catches some of the fun. The team on the left were putting a lot of cat pictures into their diagram and this caught the eye of the team on the right. The Internet is, after all, full of cats.

This final picture is here because it catches some of the fun. The team on the left were putting a lot of cat pictures into their diagram and this caught the eye of the team on the right. The Internet is, after all, full of cats.

Tomorrow, we’re off to Central (the island) to take a ferry ride across the Harbour and eat dim sum at Maxim’s City Hall. This will bring most of the students on to Central for the first time (they headed off to Mong Kok on Monday for some quick adventure but they haven’t been further south than that yet on the peninsula). Then, on Thursday, they’ll be presenting some small programs that I asked them to write based on some lecture notes on network programming. Thursday will be a flipped activity – content first, including code production, presentations to the group and then a design lab to go through the points raised and to help them produce a good specification for their first “real” assignment, which is due on Monday. The course is very fast-paced so I’m trying to put in some good staging and scaffolding, but also taking advantage of the good things of the group (distributed problem solving) while still allowing individual demonstration of skill (code production).

Tomorrow is a “rest” day so I may not blog but I’ll definitely tell you how things go on Thursday!