USJ Students and Teachers Visit Guangzhou Universities for Exchange and Learning in the Greater Bay Area





The “Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area Teacher Education Skill Enhancement Exchange Program” jointly organised by the University of Saint Joseph (USJ) and South China Normal University, took place from 1 November to 1 December 2023.

The “Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area Teacher Education Skill Enhancement Exchange Program” jointly organised by the University of Saint Joseph (USJ) and South China Normal University, took place from 1 November to 1 December 2023. The Visit was led by Erik Kok, Head Officer of the Macao Observatory for Social Development, and Ms. Stella O, Lai San, Senior Lecturer of the Faculty of of Health Sciences’ Department of Social Work. A total of eight students from the USJ’s Faculty of of Health Sciences, School of Education, and Institute for Data Engineering and Science participated in this Program.

The exchange group visited the Shipai Campus of South China Normal University in Guangzhou, where they were warmly welcomed by Associate Professor Zhang Weikun, Head of the Department of Educational Management, and the faculty and students. They visited the “Teacher Skills Training Center” at South China Normal University to learn about the current developments, teaching philosophies, teaching models, and related equipment in the field of education. They also conducted a STEM-based teaching practice class for students at Tongfu Middle Road First Primary School in Haizhu District, engaging in teaching discussions with local teachers. Additionally, the itinerary included visits to Aoweiya Electronic Technology Group and Qinglu Education Technology Co., Ltd., where they gained insights the application of intelligent technology in teaching.

The Exchange Program allowed students and teachers to gain an understanding of the profound cultural heritage and further explore innovative teaching models through exchanges with education professionals from both city. It also promoted collaboration and mutual learning with mainland China’s professional teaching teams. The participants greatly benefited from the exchange and learning opportunities provided during the Program.

Student Reflection:

This learning tour began earlier than expected. Two days before my arrival, I was invited to plan and teach a STEM lesson for P2 students. While I had several years of teaching experience to secondary students, the task of working on a P2 STEM lesson posed a significant challenge. Besides, collaborating with students in Guangzhou during the preparation stage, as well as co-teaching with another USJ student during the teaching practice made this task complex. The lack of in-person meetings meant that discussions had to be conducted online, and feedback was not available instantly.

On the teaching day, I was quite disappointed as the lesson didn’t go smoothly, and I ran out of time. Feedback from people who had observed my lesson revealed my approach wasn’t suitable for P2 students. I should have provided a clearer explanation of the experiment’s purpose and recorded the steps to facilitate students’ understanding. Better communication with my collaborators would have reduced some unexpected confusion. This less-than-ideal teaching experience served as a humbling reminder for me to never overestimate myself and rely only on experience. I am glad that I have accepted this challenge, and I am expecting more of this kind of teaching practice could be done for us in China.

Apart from the teaching practice, the exchange of ideas with Prof. Zhang Wei-Kun from the South China Normal University was inspiring. I had the opportunity to share with him the development of educational policies in Macau and some of my observations. His insights on inclusive education, the cultivation of professional teachers with strong beliefs and compassion, and the importance of in-service teachers conducting research left an impact on me. I aspire to incorporate these insights into my dissertation and contribute to the successful training of professional teachers in the future.

Tammy Chu Ka Wai | Master of Education, Year 2

During my recent three-day exchange program to South China Normal University, I immersed myself in the local education system and explored Guangzhou’s cultural attractions. The visit provided insights into teachers’ career development and innovative educational technology.

At the Teachers’ Training Center, I learned about the diverse programs and resources available for aspiring and practicing teachers. The center emphasized continuous professional development and showcased various training opportunities.

During my stay, I also visited a local primary school and taught a STEM class on 3D shapes in Mandarin. The experience was challenging but rewarding, with enthusiastic and engaged students. The classroom teacher’s feedback was valuable for my future teaching endeavors. In our free time, we explored Huacheng Square and admired the modern skyline that reflected the city’s rapid development. We also visited Yongqingfang and Shamiandao Island, which reminded me of home with their Western-style buildings. Immersing myself in the local culture was a delightful experience. One evening, I went on a night cruise along the Pearl River, marveling at the illuminated skyline. The Guangzhou Tower and the Renmin and Haizhu bridges appeared breathtakingly close, offering a unique perspective on the city’s architectural splendor.  On the final day, I visited two educational technology corporations and witnessed their innovative classroom equipment and systems. These companies were at the forefront of integrating technology into education, reshaping the learning experience for students and teachers.

Overall, the exchange program was transformative. It provided valuable insights into teachers’ career development, allowed me to teach in Mandarin, and exposed me to innovative educational technology. These experiences will shape my understanding of education and inspire my future endeavors in the field.

Joe, Leong Seng Chou | Bachelor of Education

I had the opportunity to participate in the Teacher Education Skill Enhancement Exchange Program for universities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, organized by our School, and I gained a lot from this exchange. Firstly, what struck me the most was the realization that a mirror is the best “teacher” for teacher trainees to enhance their teaching skills. This helped me understand how to effectively engage in self-teaching training as a teacher. During my assistant experience at Tongfu Middle Road First Primary School, I gained insights into the characteristics of primary school students and realized that primary school teachers need to invest more energy in student discipline and behavior management.

What impressed me the most was the visit to two Guangzhou Internet technology education companies. They empower the education industry with AI+ and Web+ technologies. As my research focuses on facial expression recognition and analysis, this communication and exchange expanded my understanding of the application of artificial intelligence. Perhaps in the future, facial expression recognition can be applied to intelligent analysis in the classroom, enabling lightweight applications and real-time analysis of students’ classroom states. This would be beneficial for both students and teachers. It may even contribute to further advancements in the field of education through the empowerment of artificial intelligence.

Overall, this exchange program provided valuable insights into teaching skills and the integration of technology in education. It broadened my horizons and sparked ideas for potential future applications in my research and teaching practice.

Jackson | Information System PhD student

Professor Zhang and two enthusiastic senior students from South China Normal University warmly welcomed the students and teachers from the University of Saint Joseph for a visit to the beautiful campus. We discovered that the facilities in Chinese schools were very modern and different from traditional PowerPoint teaching methods. Students were able to learn classroom knowledge through technology games, truly embodying the goals of STEAM education.

The “Ceiling Echo Enhancer” not only amplified the teacher’s voice but also eliminated the inconvenience and noise associated with using traditional microphones. Students in the back row could even hear the teacher clearly through the rear speakers. The “Smart Pen” allowed teachers to accurately assess students’ understanding of knowledge and automatically collect data.

After three days of immersion, students from different majors, including social work, education, and information technology, benefited greatly from this exchange. Particularly in terms of technological innovation, I believe that both teachers and future social workers must be willing to embrace new things and adapt to technological advancements.

Overall, the visit to South China Normal University was a rewarding experience that showcased the integration of technology and education, emphasizing the importance of embracing innovation in teaching and professional development.

Kelly | Bachelor of Social Work

The three-day, two-night exchange program was both fulfilling and exhausting. During these three days, there were many memorable experiences:

  1. The introduction to the differences between South China Normal University and the education system in Macau left a deep impression. Mainland China emphasizes the cultivation of specialized talents for society, whereas Macau focuses more on internships and practical skills.
  2. Teaching a class together with primary school students was a vibrant experience. These children were full of energy and actively participated in the class. They were intelligent and quickly grasped the knowledge shared. This allowed for mutual learning and understanding of the concept of mutual education. Technology not only changes with our era but also provides significant assistance to every profession. The use of technology in schools can help teachers enhance classroom participation and engagement. It became evident that in certain situations, social work intervention is needed to address problems, not just relying on teachers. This realization made me recognize that the future of the profession is not distant. Schools need to employ various intervention strategies to address students’ diverse issues. Using different techniques to encourage students to express their problems is a long journey of exploration and skill improvement.

Overall, this exchange program provided valuable insights and opportunities to enhance my abilities and skills for the future.

June | Bachelor of Social Work

After this short three-day and two-night exchange, witnessing the school’s historical stories and development process made a profound impression on me. I discovered that many teachers have their own teaching methods, but they all share a common trait: they are able to ignite students’ interest in learning, guide them to discover and develop their potential, and help them establish a solid academic foundation and cultivate comprehensive abilities. They create a positive learning environment that encourages students to explore and innovate.

I also had the opportunity to witness the application of modern educational technology, which provided me with a fresh perspective on teaching methods and educational innovation. Additionally, I had a meaningful and enjoyable experience serving as a teaching assistant for a class at the First Primary School on Tongfu Road in Haizhu District, Guangzhou. Interacting with the second-grade students was delightful, as they were well-behaved and attentive. This experience allowed me to feel the innocence and vitality of the students while deeply understanding the importance of education for children. As a student of the Bachelor of Social Work student, this experience has further reinforced my understanding of the significance of education and its impact on individuals and communities.

Shirly | Bachelor of Social Work

During the three-day and two-night exchange program, we were honored to visit South China Normal University and we are grateful to Professor Zhang for introducing the university to us, allowing us to have the opportunity to learn more about mainland Chinese universities.

What impressed me the most was the visit to high-tech products on the third day. I was amazed that such advanced technology has been incorporated into the teaching environment in mainland China, as I had never encountered these in Macau. It broadened my horizons. However, I believe that if we can bring these smart teaching tools to schools in Macau, it will greatly facilitate teaching, alleviate teachers’ stress, and improve efficiency.

Kiana | Bachelor of Social Work

During the visit to South China Normal University, I was impressed by the university’s excellent team of teachers and the well-equipped classrooms and facilities that facilitate student learning. However, the most impactful experience was the interaction with local students at the primary school. I was part of a small group serving as teaching assistants, and this process taught me the importance of providing more guidance in leading group work with primary school students. It is crucial to ensure that they can follow each step clearly. This is an important skill that I have learned, which will be beneficial when I have the opportunity to work with primary school students in the future.

Kay | Bachelor of Social Work