EdUHK’s Dr Song Yanjie: m-Orchestrate to Enhance Teacher Orchestration for Students’ Collaborative Science Inquiry

Inquiry-based science learning supported by information and communications technology tools has been a desirable innovative approach to instructional practices with effective teacher orchestration in school education. Teacher orchestration refers to how a teacher manages real-time, multi-layered activities in a context with multi-constraints for effective instructional practices, particularly with technology support. The issue of “How to help teachers to orchestrate students’ science inquiry within and beyond the classroom” remains a blank spot in the literature. The focus of this mobile learning app namely, m-Orchestrate (“m” stands for mobile) provides a practical solution to this question.

Developed by Dr Song Yanjie and her research team at the Department of Mathematics and Information Technology of The Education University of Hong Kong, the m-Orchestrate app, running on mobile devices, fully considers features to support both students and teachers to conduct collaborative science inquiry in a mobile learning environment. It aims at increasing teacher’s capacity in orchestrating students’ collaborative science inquiry across formal and informal learning settings. The app integrates mobile technology into science curriculum, assessment, collaboration and a novel inquiry-based pedagogy to develop students’ conceptual understanding, collaborative inquiry and problem-solving skills.

Five collaborative inquiry phases, namely, WeEngage, WeCollect, WeAnalyse, WeExplain and WeReflect are embedded in the app. In WeEngage, the teacher provides related learning resources while students work in groups to raise their inquiry questions; in WeCollect, group members plan and allocate the tasks to solve the questions, then consolidate related data; in WeExplain, group members make a presentation of their whole inquiry process; and in WeReflect, students reflect on what they know and what they want to know about the inquiry topic and what they have learned in the collaborative inquiry process. The five inquiry phases are not linear. Students can work back and forth among these phases whenever they want. In each inquiry phase, the features of collaborative mind map and chat room are provided.

The m-Orchestrate app makes learning fun and interactive, which, in return, motivates students to learn, and develop their collaborative inquiry learning and problem solving skills. In addition, the learning dashboard in the app helps teachers to visualise students’ learning progress and identify their learning difficulties to make timely pedagogical decisions.

The m-Orchestrate app was awarded the Silver Medal and Special Award in the International Invention Innovation Competition in Canada in 2020.

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The Education University of Hong Kong

Nestled in a scenic mountain range, just one hour from Hong Kong’s business districts, The Education University of Hong Kong (EdUHK) offers tranquility and world-class scholarship in a vibrant, inclusive community. EdUHK is a publicly funded tertiary institution dedicated to the advancement of teaching and learning through diverse academic and research programmes on teacher education and complementary disciplines, including social sciences and humanities. The University places great emphasis on research capability with the aim of contributing to the advancement of knowledge, scholarship and innovation. EdUHK is committed to creating a sustainable impact on social progress and human betterment and defining the education landscape for not only Hong Kong, but also the Asia Pacific region. Ranked 3rd in Asia and 16th in the world in Education (QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021), EdUHK will continue to make an impact locally, regionally and internationally through high quality research and scholarship. Adopting an Education-plus approach, its primary mission is to lead educational innovation, and to promote and support the strategic development of teaching, teacher education and disciplines complementary to education by preparing outstanding and morally responsible educators and professionals while supporting their lifelong learning. To know more about EdUHK, please visit

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