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THE SHIELD > IT EDU IN WYK
  Interview with Mr. Jimmy Leung
By Kwan Yat Tong, Alvin Leung, Ng Ka Ho, Henry Chan

Jimmy Leung Shek Fai was one of them and he became the founding Director of this newly formed organization, namely, Students Computer Operation and Service Team (SCOST). Under his leadership, SCOST took the very first step of its development and completed numerous projects successfully.

How did the idea of forming such a computer team come to Jimmy? In 1995, when he was a form five student taking the Certificate of Education Examination, our school was chosen as one of the pilot schools of the Hong Kong Education Information Network (HKEIN) Project. Under this project, many new computer equipments, including an Internet server, were installed. Jimmy had many innovative ideas of how to make good use of those advanced equipments and his ideas were presented during his campaign of the Students ’ Association ’ s Presidential Election in September. “ Although I was not elected as the S.A. President in the Election, I think the School did realize that some ideas were feasible and encouraged me to organize a computer team. At that time, I, actually, did not have a great vision, I only hoped that we could help our school provide certain Internet services, manage the school website as well as produce the CD-ROM version of The Shield, ” Jimmy explained.

First things first, as teamwork was always a vital element to success, one of the very first things SCOST had to do was the recruitment of members. Many SCOST members were, in fact, sixth-formers studying for AS-level Computer Studies and some were from lower forms referred to by teachers. “ Most members of the SCOST staff were very devoted to our projects and made tremendous efforts, ” said Jimmy Leung. “ Sam Wong and Eric Chan, who were key figures of the team, deserve special mentioning. ”

At that time, computer teams or IT teams were still very rare among local secondary schools, the establishment of SCOST reflected that Wah Yan was, undoubtedly, a pioneer in this area. However, unlike other clubs and societies, SCOST seldom promoted itself, so not many students in Wah Yan noticed the fact that some twenty dedicated computer enthusiasts were serving them patiently day to day. “ SCOST tended to be a research and development team, we didn ’ t put emphasis on organizing activities, ” said Leung, “ students might not be able to find the outcomes of our projects easily and they might not be familiar with us. ” In fact, the first year of SCOST was a very busy and exhausting year for Jimmy and his colleagues, much time and sweat had to be put from daily administration to the production of CD edition of The Shield. “ We did have much computer work to do throughout the whole year. My 486 computer at my home had never been switched off for a whole school term and we didn't stop working until our form seven mock exam! ”

Among the many projects launched by SCOST, the production of the CD edition of the school annual was the most challenging and time-consuming one. The idea of publishing “ CD Shield ” was initiated by Jimmy and backed by the School. As most SCOST members were amateurs in making a CD-ROM, it was inevitable that they had to overcome a lot of technical problems. Nevertheless, Jimmy thought that their biggest hurdle during the production was not those technical problems but the ineffective cooperation with the Editorial Board of The Shield. "We joined hands with Editorial Board in publishing ‘ CD Shield ’, ” he said, "but many articles were delayed and we needed extra time to proofread them and do desktop publishing, it would greatly hamper our efficiency."

Besides launching the “ CD Shield ” project, SCOST had several other new attempts. One of them was the plan of creating homepages for all student organizations in the school. However, the attempt ended up with very discouraging response from clubs. “ Wah Yan ’ s official website was one of the few well-established school sites then. We hoped to enrich its contents by adding various materials from different clubs, for example, Philatelic Club might put some stamps on-line for exhibition. We just requested those clubs to provide us with some content and we would make and design the homepages ourselves. I simply can ’ t understand why their response was so apathetic, ” said Jimmy disappointedly.

Like other student bodies in Wah Yan, most projects of SCOST relied on self-organization and motivation of students. “ There was a tradition in Wah Yan that students would hold most duties in organizing extra-curricular activities and we just carried on that tradition. Our fellow teammates took up almost 99 percent of the workload, ” said Jimmy Leung, “ we planed our projects and finished them ourselves. ” He felt that such a large extent of students ’ involvement would enhance students ’ creativity as team members could implement whatever they could imagine without waiting for teachers ’ approval. Despite the fact that teacher advisors did not intervene much in the running of SCOST, they did give some practical assistance to students. “ Mr. W. L. Wong, Mr. Y. M. Lee and Mr. Norman So were advisors of SCOST then, ” explained Leung, “ they helped the team control resources, such as giving us advice on purchase of computer devices and softwares, they would also offer us some guidelines whenever we were facing a problem. ”

What could he learn from his working experience in SCOST? “ Problem-solving skills, ” the former SCOST Director said. “ Problems appeared again and again and most of them were unprecedented, we had to face uncertainties always. My experience in the team was a useful lesson training me how to solve problems with given and limited resources. This lesson had a great impact on my future career because what I have learned is not only applicable to IT but also in many other areas. I am now running a small business, my experience as SCOST Director helped me a lot when I was finding solutions to certain problems and leading other people. ”

Jimmy Leung is now studying architecture in university, yet he is still concerned with the changes and developments of his alma mater. “ I have learned that Wah Yan failed to sell part of the campus to developers, I think it was probably due to some town planning reasons. I would like to conduct a project next year to investigate the redevelopment of the school campus. After reviewing the town planning and some relevant laws, I wish to put forward some suggestions for the redevelopment. Can we build a girls' school inside the school premises? Can we have some dormitories for students? Of course, my suggestions will tend to be conceptual and imaginary rather than for practical uses. ”

Moreover, Jimmy has his own reflections on Wah Yan ’ s IT movements in the future. He believed that focus should be put on “ content ”. Our school has already had good Internet Infrastructures but the website ’ s content still has much room to improve. He felt that more effort should be made on enriching content which could attract more people easily. Also, we should not merely emphasize technology but should also put stress on their applications in different fields. He was particularly interested in campus TV and looked forward to seeing it in Wah Yan very soon. “ I have longed for setting up a campus TV, I think that our school has enough technical support to organize a campus TV crew, ” he added.

On the other hand, Jimmy questioned the effect of using IT in education nowadays. “ Applying IT to our classroom learning may be quite fancy to students, but I doubt that if the present practices of using IT have any real benefits to students compared to the old method of reading textbooks. Wah Yan has always been a pacesetter, can we bring some advanced concepts and techniques of the use of IT from universities to our campus which are in contrast to the so-called ‘ IT in education ’ today? ”


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