Innovation and social impact in Hong Kong higher education: Some lessons from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Tohoku University

Cheung Ching Yuen
The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Hong Kong SAR, China

Carol Poon Man Wai
The Open University of Hong Kong
Hong Kong SAR, China

In recent years, the Hong Kong Education Bureau has been zealously encouraging schools to enhance students’ critical thinking and creativity, and their innovativeness and motivation for learning. Along with this, American scholars (Levi 2008; Macwilliams 2008; McCarthy, 2009; Clement, 2013) have strongly encouraged members of the teaching profession to apply innovative approaches to teaching. Actually, this strategy has been widely examined in the United State and Japan for some time and the outcome is quite fruitful.

Based on the lessons learned from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Tohoku University, this paper aims to shed light on a heavily under-researched multidisciplinary area: innovation and education. It examines this issue through cultural history, education policy and related social systems, together with ‘the traditional custom.’ In addition, this paper aims to redefine the concept of innovation in current teaching in higher education, to serve as a reference for potential change agents as they consider ways and means of creating improved learning environments at universities and other institutions — and to enhance educators’ interest in, and understanding of, utilizing such new media as well as their social power. Finally, the social impact of the introduction of innovation in teaching in the higher education profession is examined and compared with the traditional practice.

Apart from literature studies, a field study and interviews in both Hong Kong and Japan, and also field observation in Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Tohoku University, are outlined.