Dr Michael Pittman received Faculty Award for Teaching Innovations in E-learning 2017-18
“My teaching approach is centred on inspiring and engaging students because I believe this opens the doors to deeper life-long learning, the most important type of learning.”
“Dinosaur Ecosystems” is a HKU Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) which Dr Pittman produced and teaches. This e-course makes use of several learner-focused innovations to deliver a direct, immersive and engaging learning experience. It leveraged the e-learning format to make heavy use of field-based learning so students could see palaeontological work in action. This involved visits to world-renowned field sites and institutions in more than 5 countries, including the remote Gobi Desert of Northern China and the American Museum of Natural History in New York. The online format also gave learners a unique perspective of cutting-edge developments in the field through direct connections with Dr Pittman, co-instructor Xing Xu and 20+ international experts. As non-compulsory courses, student engagement is a paramount consideration for MOOCs. Dr Pittman and his team addressed this through a relaxed learning experience using bite-sized, content-rich videos with clear and concise learning objectives. They employed extensive grassroots community activities to encourage peer-to-peer learning and developed a game app to allow younger people to be involved.