The designed, planned, and managed learner support of the Radio and TV University (RTVU) System began in the late 1990s. The year 2002 saw the establishment of the China Central Radio and TV University (CCRTVU) Learner Support Centre, responsible for the planning, design, management, coordinating, and guidance of learner support. It is also responsible for establishing rules, standards, and procedures for learner support, and supervising and checking their implementation. It offers direct consultation to some students and members of society. Over 13 years of exploration and practice, a series of rules and regulations for tutoring and learner support have been formulated, shaping a preliminary institutional system for tutoring and learner support.
During the RTVU period, learner support referred to a learning guidance and assistance structure that serves learners by relying on decentralized and classified management of the teaching staff, management staff, and technical staff by ensuring the operating conditions and teaching facilities in central, provincial, local city, county, and enterprise-level tutorial centres. Based on information technology platforms and face-to-face tutorials, timely and accessible learning resources are provided throughout the learning process, including autonomous learning and mental health. With the unified coordination of the Open University of China (OUC), a tutoring support operation system comes into being with the corresponding responsibilities undertaken by various levels of RTVUs. The coordinated operation system provides all RTVU tutors and students with online and offline tutoring and learner support, as well as a large amount of non-academic guidance. The major approaches are as follows.
1. Online tutoring
The university teaching platform provides learners with rich learning resources, including online courses, IP courseware, and compulsory texts for all majors. Course leaders from the OUC headquarters are responsible for organizing synchronous tutorials, live lunchtime classes, and other activities for the RTVU system, and organizing the students to participate in theme-based discussions via courses BBS, answering questions raised during the course of their learning. They also organize regular online synchronous tutoring and research activities for tutors, helping both tutors and students to get a better understanding of the tutoring methods and learning content.
2. Distance Reception Centre
The Distance Reception Centre, founded in 2004, is a platform for tutors, students, and institutions of degree education and non-degree education. It offers individualized online support including: registration consultation; admission queries; learning material ordering; course registration; study skills; online resource browsing; school changes; course selection instruction; learning guidance; assignment reminders; examination appointments; result queries; graduation application; degree review; employment guidance; psychological consultations; technical assistance; policy publicity; and new programme promotion. Communication methods include online chat tools, telephone, BBS, email, fax, and letters. The Distance Reception Centre also actively takes on outbound tasks from relevant departments in the university, such as following up on student scholarships and grants.
3. Local services
Through the nationwide tutorial centres, course tutors, entry guidance tutors, and class tutors give students learning guidance, learning supervision, learning promotion, and a range of consultations to satisfy the students’ diverse needs via face-to-face tutorials, telephone, QQ, WeChat, and other modern communication methods.
4. Scholarships and student evaluation
To encourage students to work hard and be ambitious, the university initiated the selection and commendation of outstanding graduate students in 2002, with the pilot scholarship programme launched in 2009. This programme is of great significance in stimulating the enthusiasm and initiative of the students, as well as reforming methods of learner formation, promoting the exploration of a learning model, and enhancing the cohesion of the OUC and the sense of belonging of the students.
5. Education TV station
The OUC offers degree and non-degree education video resources to students and the public via CETV-2 (China Education Television, second channel)