When the pandemic struck in 2020, changes to people’s everyday lives were swift, dramatic, and essential. For children, schools closed and lessons moved online. For adults, offices closed and employees did their work online.
Extracurricular activities in schools came to an abrupt halt – including CLP’s Engineer in School (EIS) programme, which for five years has given junior secondary school students across Hong Kong hands-on experience of power engineering.
But Sunny Chan, CLP Community Relations and Programmes Manager, had different ideas. “When the government announced the suspension of face-to-face classes after the Chinese New Year holiday, we wanted to continue the programme for the participating schools in the second semester of 2019-2020 academic year, and going virtual seemed to be the solution,” he recalls.
Chan reached out to different schools as soon as online teaching began, and at first met a skeptical reception from teachers struggling just to keep up with regular schooling.
“They were understandably worried that moving extracurricular activities online as well as lessons would lead to online fatigue and get a poor response from students,” he says.
Leap of faith
There were technical headaches too. How could a physical talk be transformed into a virtual one, particularly when some schools lacked the appropriate software and hardware systems? And how do you deliver lessons to large groups of students online?