An Example of Using Internet for Teaching HKIEd Science Students

YEUNG Yau Yuen and NG Pun Hon
Department of Science & Mathematics

Background and Objectives

According to Schatz and Hardin (1994), some user-friendly browsing software such as Mosaic, Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer have recently made global hypermedia in form of the World Wide Web (WWW) a widespread reality. In many local institutions, access to the Internet (using Netscape) has become very popular and so it should be very feasible to make use of the hypermedia features in the WWW of the Internet for educational or training purpose as hypermedia can provide some unique learning features to the students such as giving them free choice or direct access to the contents and interconnections within an information domain. The instructional uses of the WWW (Shotsberger, 1996) and that of electronic mail in undergraduate teaching (Pitt, 1996) have recently become foci of educational research on teaching academic subject with multimedia and telecommunication technology (Wiburg, 1994). Although there is currently a computer network called TeleNex (Tsui and Ki, 1994) established at HKU for English language teachers, yet little work of similar nature has been done in Science or other subject areas within the HKIEd.

In the HKIEd, there are several motivating/advantageous factors for using the Internet to teach our Science students:

  1. Students have the freedom to adjust their pace of learning and time of learning (c.f. lecturing in classroom).
  2. It is possible to implement the nonlinear learning mode (c.f. sequential learning mode available in textbook).
  3. Hypermedia features are more attractive and can stimulate interaction and interest (e.g. colorful pictures and text are uncommon in conventional lecture notes).
  4. Contents can be updated or modified more frequently and quickly (c.f. revised edition of textbook).
  5. The HKIEd currently consists of 10 separate campuses and there are numerous common topics in many courses offered in various campuses, requiring coherency between courses.
Therefore, we have initiated a research project on using the Internet to teach HIKEd Science students in which the main objectives are: The Method and Approach

For this project, we have created a simple WWW home-page design model which consists of five main stages, namely planning, development, implementation, evaluation and refinement. Activities involved in each stage are described briefly in Fig.1. Regarding the learning materials, the outline is given below:

In developing our WWW home-page using the HyperText Markup Language (HTML), we have adopted the following hypermedia features: There are many tools and guiding materials for creating home-page (see, e.g. Muller 1995) and White, (1996) and most of them are obtainable free of charge from the Internet. The Internet addresses for obtaining those software and manuals are given in Table 1.

After conversion, these HTML documents are finally uploaded as a World Wide Web (WWW) home-page to an Internet site located at Science students in various HKIEd campuses are asked to visit our home-page as a part of their learning activities. Questions and feedback could be directed to us via email as provided in the home-page. After visiting our home-page, students are requested to fill in an evaluation questionnaire which is used to collect information on their self-study experience in the Internet and their suggestions for improvement of the home-page. Follow- up analysis will be done to improve our learning materials and the style and contents of our home-page.

Evaluation and Discussion

Even though our project team which consists of a subject matter specialist, an Internet expert and a student helper should be good enough to handle all the stages involved in producing the home-page, yet it is still very vital to have some kind of evaluation to improve/refine our home-page. Based on Mauldin's (1996) experience on evaluating computer-based multimedia programs, we have made some formative evaluation on three major aspects of our hypermedia work:

  1. Content - email feedback from external subject experts who are invited via some newsgroups to visit our home-page.
  2. User - questionnaire issued to Science students who are required to visit our home- page as a part of coursework.
  3. Functionality - checking the correctness of various features such as hyperlink address.

Concerning the content, several overseas university experts have given via email some encouraging comments to us and pointed out some alternative theories about our topic. Some preliminary findings of the survey indicate that most students consider this mode of learning effective. A great majority of them prefers more self-study topics in the Internet and likes to explore more about Science education in the Internet. A more comprehensive report on the survey will be given in a future paper.

On the other hand, there are of course some limitations and difficulties encountered on using the Internet for teaching. The most fundamental one is the availability of computer and access to the Internet. Another one is that it is more time consuming to prepare the WWW materials because they have to be very detailed for self-learning usage. Despite of this, it is hoped that our present work could serve as a prototype of using hypermedia for science education in self-studying and distant- learning mode in Hong Kong. We also expect our work could help and encourage other Science teachers to write their own home-page on certain topics of Science and link them to our Internet site, gradually building up many pages of a hypermedia science reference book.


Financial support from the Hong Kong Institute of Education is gratefully acknowledged. Thanks are also due to Miss Chui Yuet Ying for her assistance.


Mauldin, M. (1996) "The Formative Evaluation of Computer-Based Multimedia Programs" Educational Technology, March - April, pp.36-40.
Muller, N.J. (1995) "The Webmaster's guide to HTML: for advanced Web developers" McGraw Hill: New York.
Pitt, M. (1996) "The use of electronic mail in undergraduate teaching." British Journal of Educational Technology, 27(1), pp.45-50.
Schatz, B.R. and Hardin, J.B. (1994) "NCSA Mosaic and the World Wide Web: Global Hypermedia Protocols for the Internet" Science, 265, pp.895-901.
Shotsberger, P.G. (1996) "Instructional uses of the World Wide Web: Exemplars and Precautions" Educational Technology, March - April, pp.47-50.
Tsui, A.B.M. and Ki, W.W. (1994) "Where and Whither TeleNex: A computer Network for English Language Teachers in Hong Kong." Curriculum Forum, 4(1), pp.1-12.
White, B. (1996) "HTML and the art of authorizing for the World Wide Web" Kluwer Academic Publishers: Boston.
Wiburg, K. (1994) "Teaching Science with Technology: Telecommunications and Multimedia." The Computing Teacher, April, pp.6-8.

Figure 1: An WWW Home-page Design Model

  • Defining scope of the learning package, topic, objectives, target students, contents and styles
  • Time schedule and division of duties
  • Writing of lecture notes in Word
  • Conversion of pictures, tables and equations into gif graphic files
  • Creation of icons
  • Design of page layout, sections and hyperlinks
  • conversion into HTML files
  • Opening an Internet account from an Internet Service Provider
  • Uploading HTML files
  • Brief and instruct students to visit the home-page located at

Good Enough? Yes


  • Questionnaire Survey and analysis
  • Home-page visit statistics as recorded by Web Counter
Final Home-page
  • Improvement of scope of contents and home-page design

Table 1: Basic tools for creating home-page

FunctionSoftware/ Internet address
Image file editor/converter Lview Pro (gif format) ""
HTML editor MS Internet Assistant, SoftQuard HoTMetaL etc. A list of available HTML editing products:
HTML Manual Documents on HTML 2.0, 3.0 and extensions

Beginner's guide:

JavaScript Manual Beginner's guide and examples:

Internet Browser Netscape Navigator obtainable by ftp

MS Internet Explorer

Counting of home-page visit Web Counter provided by
Internet account List of Internet Service Provider(ISP)
Internet Connection Trumpet winsock ""