With the increasing proliferation of technology in education, especially in the higher education sector, educators face the dilemma of reconciling “human touch” services, such as academic and personal advising, with the “high tech” environment. Extensive research has indicated that advising and other support services form a critical part of a student’s success. This is particularly applicable to the sub-degree student population in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) where the top 18% of high school graduates get into state funded and cash rich universities while the rest choose from a wide range of sub-degree providers with abundant places. This paper reports the establishment of an online advising and learning support system that allows interactivity between teachers and students in a community College with multiple campuses. The system supports activities in the areas of a
cademic advising and course registration, online language training, career counseling and general counseling.
As there seems to be as many places as students in the sub-degree sector, the language standards of these students are quite diversified, ranging from poor to excellent, which make the task of teaching them exceptionally difficult. Through videoconferencing equipment, native speaking English tutors based on the main campus are able to conduct online language activities and tutorial sessions with students on the same location or other branch campuses, either in the form of one-on-one basis or in groups. The system is also designed to support online job matching between potential employers and job applicants. In fact, a number of postings have generated much interest and have attracted applications. Virtual job interviews have been conducted on various occasions for employers to evaluate the suitability of the applicants. Online career counseling and tutorials on composing job application letters and curriculum vitae are also available for students to practice in their own time. The system has so far registered positive feedback from students as most of them consider it a more efficient, convenient and less intimidating way of seeking advice from both academic and counseling staff. If funding permits, the system has the capability of further expansion to incorporate users from other local, as well as overseas tertiary institutions.