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E-textbook Market Development Scheme
2013-10-30

Following is a question by the Hon Charles Mok and a written reply by the Secretary for Education, Mr Eddie Ng Hak-kim, in the Legislative Council today (October 30):
Question:

Applications for the first phase (Phase I) of the E-textbook Market Development Scheme (EMADS) launched by the Education Bureau closed at the end of September 2012. Applications from 13 organisations, which involved 30 projects on the development of e-textbooks, were approved. The second phase (Phase II) of EMADS is now open for application and the authorities have extended the scope of EMADS to cover the senior secondary curricula. However, some e-textbook developers have relayed to me that as they have difficulties in complying with the terms of EMADS, they are discouraged from submitting their applications. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the number of projects completed under Phase I of EMADS, the curricula information of the respective projects, the number of projects of which the e-textbooks developed have been tried out by partner schools under the Partner Schools Scheme, as well as the respective numbers of schools, teachers and students involved in the field-test of each project, as at the end of September this year;

(b) of the performance indicators set by the authorities for the completed projects (e.g. whether they have assessed the impact of the projects on students’ academic performance, the degree of satisfaction of the teachers and students with the projects, and the views of the developers, etc.); whether relevant statistics are available at present; if so, of the details; whether it has, before launching Phase II of EMADS, made reference to the relevant indicators and data for making corresponding adjustments to EMADS so as to promote the utilisation rate of such teaching materials and encourage developers to submit applications; if so, of the details;

(c) as the authorities have indicated to the press that three of the successful applicants in Phase I of EMADS have not yet entered into an EMADS agreement with the authorities for “specific reasons”, of such reasons, and the progress made by the authorities in following up with the implementation of the projects by the three applicants; and

(d) given that at the present stage, Phase II of EMADS covers only the subjects of primary and junior secondary schools as well as six subjects of senior secondary schools (i.e. English, History, Geography, Physics, Biology and Chemistry), whether the authorities will incorporate all the subjects of senior secondary schools into EMADS; if so, of the implementation timetable and details?

Reply:
President,

(a) As at the end of September 2013, there were 20 sets of e-textbooks being developed by 10 developers under Phase I of EMADS, in which 15 sets covered primary education and five sets covered junior secondary education, including Chinese Language, English Language, Mathematics, Geography, Life and Society, Physical Education, General Studies and Putonghua. Each set of e-textbook was field-tested in the try-outs of not less than three Partner Schools. 80 Partner Schools have completed the first try-outs which involved over 5 000 primary and secondary students and 200 teachers. As the e-textbooks are still under development, the developers have to go through the second and the third try-outs and submit the final deliverables in order to complete the whole project.

(b) EDB has set up a Steering Committee on the Selection, Quality Assurance and Review of EMADS to oversee the development and progress of EMADS, monitor the quality assurance mechanism and field-test the e-textbooks being developed through the Partner Schools Scheme. Under the Scheme, EDB will have pre-meetings with Partner Schools and developers to discuss the pedagogical requirements in the try-outs and evaluate the quality of the e-textbooks in authentic classroom settings through lesson observations. After the lesson observations, EDB will provide feedbacks to developers for refinement in the design of the e-textbooks. Furthermore, EDB has also set up subject vetting panels for each subject set to ensure the quality of the e-textbooks.
The first try-out was completed in late April. Based on the lesson observations and feedbacks from the participating Partner Schools, the try-out process was generally smooth and the feedbacks from different stakeholders were positive. Schools, teachers and students all provide positive feedbacks on the effectiveness of the e-textbooks in enhancing learning and teaching, as well as boosting students’ learning motivation.

Having regard to the experience gained in the try-outs and the development of e-textbooks in these months, it was found that the project schedule was rather tight. We understand that the development of e-textbooks in Hong Kong is still in embryo, it takes time for e-textbook developers, Partner Schools and EDB to gain experience and establish collaboration. In view of this, we had allowed a greater flexibility in the first try-out in Phase I of EMADS that individual developers and partner schools could negotiate with EDB on the arrangement and schedule of the try-outs and we would make adjustment based on the actual situation. As the second and the third try-outs are coming, we would continue to closely collaborate with different stakeholders to overcome the upcoming challenges, thus ensuring the quality of the e-textbooks developed under EMADS. Furthermore, having regard to the above experience, we allow applicants under Phase II of EMADS to choose to launch their e-textbooks in the market in either 2015/16 or 2016/17 school year.

(c) Among the 13 successful applicants under Phase I of EMADS, EDB signed project agreement with 10 of them. As regards the remaining three applicants, the details for not being able to conclude an agreement with them in the end cannot be revealed, since commercial considerations of these three applicants are involved.

(d) Upon the completion of the short-term stage of the review of the New Senior Secondary (NSS) school curriculum and assessment, six NSS subjects with more stable curricula have been covered in Phase II of EMADS. Since Phase II of EMADS is still being implemented, EDB does not have any plan to include all the subjects of senior secondary school curriculum in EMADS at this stage.

Ends/Wednesday, October 30, 2013 Issued at HKT 15:15

Office Of Hon. Charles Mok, Legislative Councillor (IT)