Smarter School: What matters in Smart Teaching?

Jacky Fung

Content Creation and Engagement Matter.

Leonie Valentine is the Managing Director, Sales & Operations of Google Hong Kong. She has over 20 years of experience in marketing and sales, and has served as Director of Customer Experience for Asia Pacific at Google for the past two years. In an interview on 25 February 2020 with Jacky Fung, our Researcher and Head of Education Policy Research Centre, Leonie shares her vision and insights on remote education, and how Hong Kong educators can better prepare for applying technology in education, especially in this coronavirus situation.

Jacky Fung:  What is the most important issue for the educators to cope with the technology change in education?

Leonie Valentine: The technology itself is not really an issue because there is a lot of technology available today. A lot of which has to deal with content and engagement. So, teaching method is really important. Producing content that is fit for purpose in terms of how you plan to use the technology in the classroom, or for remote learning, is really important. And the engagement piece in terms of getting students involved in their own education journeys, is also important because, really, who is more engaged with tech these days? The students or the teachers, or both? So how can we actually learn, from our experience, is from student with technology with different types of content and bring that back into the classroom, so that we got a more modern era of education.


Jacky Fung: How do education projects of innovation or breakthroughs become more sustainable?

Leonie Valentine: In terms of sustainability of change in education, innovation is very closely related to the idea of being able to collaborate. Collaboration is very closely related to trust. So, one of the things that we would love to see, in terms of driving innovation in the education system, is actually establishing a foundation of trust and collaboration that can be enabled through technology tools. It can also be enabled, I think, through looking at the sorts of things that we want to do in education, and what sort of content help the students to actually engage in that. Also, who are the partners in terms of driving some of that change? When you think about sustainability, sustainability from a technology perspective, for me that is quite easy, I think it is about having a proof of concept, having a pilot, and then running an inter-production.

So, one of the key things about sustaining a technology change, and it is not for the fight-harder, you have to commit to the long term. You have to think about engaging your partner from the very beginning in terms of who is helping you to build this thing as a proof of concept, who engage in the pilot, and will those partners still be engaged together when you actually roll it down in production. It is because the production is actually the most important part where you really got change reaching the masses, where you can make the most impact across a wild variety of schools and students.

The last thing that you then need to do is to look in is an effective implementation review. We will call that a PIR, a project implementation review. That is an honest sitting-down between a party, to say, what work well, what have we learnt, what’s terrific that we want to keep, what do we need to change, and how do we basically start on this journey of technology innovation again. So that is how I think about sustainability and education and technology implementation.

Jacky Fung: Can you tell us more about the commitment of Google in Education in Hong Kong?

Leonie Valentine:  Google is a company that has been around for about 21 years with a very long history in education. Right from the very beginning we were very concerned about making the world information available and useful, usable, accessible, that is kind of the higher ambition. So, education is the core of everything that we do, and every strategy that we have. What we want to do locally in Hong Kong, is to engage teachers and their journeys. We have got a fantastic Google Educators’ Group with more than 1,000 educators here in Hong Kong. That’s actually a community of peer-based learning and support. The Google Educators get together on a frequent basis, run around training sessions, host get-togethers like meet-ups to talk about issues in education. They also trying new tools as well. So that is a terrific resource for educators in Hong Kong to be part of the Google Educators Group and really get to understand how technology can play a pivotal role in the classroom, and how it also enables the next generation of students to be innovators and creators for Hong Kong.


Jacky Fung
Head of Centre for Education Policy, Researcher