May 2021 | Volume 22 No. 2
What is ‘teaching’? For Ms Alice Lee, recipient of the 2019 University Distinguished Teaching Award, the most satisfying teaching is a partnership in which students, as much as their teacher, contribute content to the discussion. She has taken that philosophy beyond the campus and into the community with the project Copyright Classroom, which started at HKU and has spread to other institutions and government departments in Hong Kong.
“Copyright education is necessary for teachers and students in every subject because they will use copyright materials and they need to know how to do this lawfully,” she said.
“But different disciplines and departments have different requirements. I worked with colleagues from other faculties and units to understand what their students or staff would like and need to know about copyright.”
The result is a collection of 11 five-minute animations on copyright issues in fields ranging from entertainment, performance and research and presentation to news reporting, design and art.
Three of her former students joined her in scripting, production and narration of the videos, which have been uploaded to the YouTube channel Copyright Classroom. Colleagues from Law, Engineering, Architecture, the Centre for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning and the Knowledge Exchange Office were also on the team.
Ms Lee also worked with a select group of secondary school students under HKU’s Academy for the Talented, who produced two additional videos on the Creative Commons, which are now part of the animated series.
Ms Alice Lee (second from right) works together with her students and former students – Brian Tan, Daniel Chan, Uncle Siu and Phoebe Woo – for the Copyright Classroom project.
Since uploading the videos last year, she has been invited to introduce the Copyright Classroom to the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong Baptist University, and the Education University of Hong Kong. The Vocational Training Council and the government’s Buildings Department and Intellectual Property Department have also used the resources, with the latter inviting her to do a Chinese-language version. The Hong Kong Reprographic Rights Licensing Society, meanwhile, has provided links to the videos on their website.
“The Copyright Classroom started off as a project for university students and teachers, but it has evolved into a kind of public education. I’m very pleased that it can have this wider impact and that people are approaching me to work with them. I love collaboration, not just with teachers and students but also people outside academia,” she said.
That eagerness to collaborate has also underpinned several other recent projects involving Ms Lee, one led by alumni and three led by a student.
HKU LAWLYPOP was initiated with alumnus Billy Ng (LLB 2002, PCLL 2003) who remembered how hard it was to graduate during SARS in 2003 and wanted to help current students cope during the pandemic. He helped recruit other law graduates to record dozens of short videos in which they offer professional tips and wisdom, reflect on career choices, and encourage students to have hope and persevere.
“Since students have not been able to meet practitioners face to face, we provided this channel to learn from others’ experiences,” Ms Lee said. “We also want students to consider more career options beyond practising as a lawyer. With a legal education, you actually have more options.
“I’m an example of that. I did the LLB but I have never wanted to be a lawyer. My happiest time has turned out to be when I go into the classroom and see my students.”
Ms Alice Lee (right) and her student Marcus Yuen (left).
Building an ecosystem
The student-led projects, meanwhile, were inspired by Marcus Yuen, who graduated last year in government and law (BSocSc[Govt&Laws]& LLB). He first approached Ms Lee in 2017 to discuss his project Outreach Legal Talks, which provides legal knowledge to people living in subdivided flats. The project won the inaugural Law for Change Student Competition that year that was organised by the global NGO, Public Interest Law Network.
Marcus then organised the Legal Advice Programme, again with Ms Lee’s assistance, to recruit students to provide research and other assistance to law firms in their pro bono work. The programme enables students to learn more about legal practice while helping to fill a real need.
And last year, they launched SELECT – Student Experiential Learning Community Service Task Force – under which the Faculty of Law provides recognition and assistance for student-led experiential learning projects, such as coordinating mass emails for the different projects, reserving classrooms and providing timelines for students to join. The idea is to make these initiatives more sustainable. “Alice’s support has been essential to the healthy development of these initiatives,” Marcus said. “Most importantly, we have been able to establish an ecosystem of teacher-student collaboration and student-managed projects.”
For Ms Lee, these are all win-win situations. “Everything we do is to benefit not just the target groups but also the students themselves. They can learn how to share their knowledge in a more comprehensive way and present themselves to others outside the legal profession. So there are multiple beneficiaries.”
Copyright education is necessary for teachers and students in every subject because they will use copyright materials and they need to know how to do this lawfully.
MS ALICE LEE