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Fong’s Exciting Plans for Digital Tech

June 27, 2016
By Mike Fowler

Programme leader Fong Chong is ready to breathe new life into Hagley’s Digital Technology programme.

That starts next year with our new Pre-Tertiary Computing School designed to step students successfully into computer science, software engineering and computer engineering at the University of Canterbury. Fong has strong links with UC’s Computer Science department which will be of benefit, as will the project-based learning approach.

Project-based learning is a feature of all Fong’s programmes. At Year 9 and 10, that might mean designing a sequence for some Christmas lights, then planning, connecting a circuit then programming it to run. At senior and pre-tertiary level, it’s more complex projects like programming a digital organiser or web-based game.

Fong’s approach in his Digital Technology classes reflects his own beliefs about how he would like education to be. Learning isn’t about a series of different classes. Instead, students follow their interests so that their skill development is based around their passions; and for Fong, his project-based approach is a step in this direction.

Learning to code is the cornerstone for all this work. Fong sees coding as a much more accessible language and easier to learn than it has been in the past. At Year 9 and 10, coding could be dragging and dropping commands, whereas at Year 11 students are starting to  learn the language of how to code. Theory is vital too, finding the fewest number of steps to carry out a programming task in the most efficient way.

Fong came to Hagley in 2007 after completing his Masters. His most enjoyable university year was at post-graduate level, researching speech quality measurement systems for Chinese speech for Tait electronic systems. Tait manufacture radio communications technology, so audio quality is vital. Prior to Fong’s research, studies had been made for English speech quality measurement but not for Chinese.

Where many students with Computer Science degrees end up in the commercial world, Fong had always wanted to become a teacher. His original plan was to gain a degree then return to Singapore and become a primary school teacher. However, things worked out differently. He stayed in Christchurch and trained as a secondary teacher, then came to Hagley as his first job. He moved to the Correspondence School in 2010, then returned to Hagley in 2016. Fong was missing the hands-on work, the digital technology focus and the students. He saw the opportunity to grow the Digital Technology programme, which excites him. We’re excited too at where Fong could take things over the next few years.


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