In recent years, face-to-face tutorial classes have been inadequately attended. The low number of clicks on online teaching resources and low quality postings in the BBS on online teaching activities remain one of the most urgent problems in open education and teaching at Xi’an Radio and TV University (RTVU).
As such, Xi’an RTVU has held frequent discussions through joint teaching conferences and the teaching responsibility community. Relevant documents have been promulgated to further enhance teaching organisation management and to strengthen research on the diverse learning needs of adults so as to advance the reform of the teaching model. New teaching and learning models such as “unified courses” and “mobile timetable” in order to enhance attendance and make courses easier to understand, and remarkable achievements have been made.
I. Build a “two platforms, one terminal” teaching model and realise multi-dimensional and all-round teaching management
The role of the “two platforms, one terminal” teaching model is highlighted by Xi’an RTVU’s open education and teaching. Its unified compulsory courses focus on the pilot “online core courses” on the OUC learning network and optional courses are taught focusing on the teaching of the optional courses on the cloud platform. The “Let Me Learn” app gives students the ability to learn anytime, anywhere. The “two platforms, one terminal” teaching model has made possible the joint construction and sharing of course teaching resources, autonomous learning for open education students, and multi-dimensional, all-round teaching management.
II. Work together with the branch schools to use the implementation of “unified courses” to break through the teaching bottleneck
In the past, teaching of some courses could not be conducted normally because few students selected them and there was difficulty employing excellent teachers. With the joint research and coordinated innovation of Xi’an RTVU and its branch schools, including work stations and study centres, the concept of the “unified course” was proposed. The following factors are taken into consideration when determining the unified courses: courses chosen by a large number of students, courses with a low pass rate, extreme difficulty in employing excellent teachers to teach the course in branch schools, and Xi’an RTVU’s ability to employ excellent teachers.
The unified courses are taught via two-way video conference coordinated and implemented by Xi’an RTVU. The main class is set up at the branch school and sub-classes are set up in the other branch schools for simultaneous teaching. The technological department records the classes and uploads them the “live classes for this semester” section of the teaching platform. In addition to the teaching interactions in the main class, the students in each sub-class are also able to interact with the main lecturers whenever necessary. The main lecturers are able to watch students’ responses and make timely adjustments to the teaching plans based on these students’ responses so as to get the best teaching results.
Prior to the start of each semester, Xi’an RTVU will call on all the departments in charge of teaching, teaching affairs, technology, and supervision to study and decide the teaching programmes for the unified classes in line with courses selected by the students, the teaching implementation schemes of each branch school, and the selection factors for unified classes. They will then formulate and promulgate the teaching requirements and teaching implementation schemes for the unified classes. In light of the teaching implementation schemes for the unified classes, each teaching department of Xi’an RTVU will ask course coordinators to take the responsibility to choose the main course lecturers and create teaching resources through joint lesson planning. Before each Friday, the school’s departments of teaching resources and technology will contact the main course lecturers and course coordinators and work together to look over the teaching resources of the unified courses according to their teaching requirements. The teaching affairs department will contact the technology department and each branch school to make testing of teaching equipment. All the management personnel and people engaged in lecturing and recording equipment technology will be in place half an hour before giving the lectures for the unified classes on Saturday and Sunday. During the lectures, the course coordinators and people from the teaching, teaching affairs, and supervision departments will perform their duties under the guidance of the president in change of teaching. The presidents, leaders in charge of teaching, and tutors of each branch school should always attend classes and work together to ensure the teaching results of the unified classes. Each week, the school will give summaries and feedback on the teaching of the unified classes.
During the course of implementation, Xi’an RTVU has further reformed the teaching of the unified courses. The first is to set up a WeChat group for the course and share the course teaching PowerPoint presentation in advance to help the students preview and review. Excellent course coordinators are included in the course WeChat group to open a learning channel for teachers and students to communicate in real time. The second is to share excellent teaching resources and enhance interactions in class by relying on modern information technology. The third is to make mobile learning via phone and other devices a reality. The fourth is to build a system of “listening to classes” and “following up classes.”
Since the introduction of unified courses in the autumn semester of 2014, Xi’an RTVU has intensified teaching and teaching management, which saves on teaching costs and improves teaching quality. For example, the attendance rate for the unified course of pre-examination tutorial of degree English implemented in April 2018 remains satisfactory.
III. Research and develop a mobile system of curricula to improve the overall soft power of teaching
The mobile timetable is a summary of the timetable reported by the branch schools (work stations and study centres) of Xi'an RTVU in a unified pattern. The final comprehensive curricula for teaching are issued online and via WeChat.
In order to adapt to the flat educational management model of direct subordination, give full play to Xi’an RTVU’s role in teaching management and coordination, accelerate the sharing of quality teaching resources among branch schools (work stations and study centres), and offer students earnest learning support, Xi’an RTVU initiated a mobile timetable system in the autumn semester of 2015. In the same semester, all branch schools (work stations) reported their curricula in a unified pattern formulated by Xi’an RTVU teaching affairs division, which gave a summary of the reported curricula. A total of about 90 curricula from undergraduate programmes and 150 curricula from junior college programmes were reported by five schools directly under the jurisdiction of Xi’an RTVU. Building on the individual curriculum teaching arrangement of each branch school (work station and study centre), Xi’an RTVU integrated and compiled the unified macro mobile curricula. By the spring semester of 2018, six branch schools and seven study centres under direct administration reported a total of 206 curricula, including 74 from undergraduate programmes and 132 from junior college programmes.
The implementation of a mobile timetable has broken the boundaries of running schools directly under its administration within the system and running schools and teaching and learning by branch schools (workstations, learning centres). The students can look up the curricula wherever and whenever, and can choose to get involved in course teaching activities nearby. This saves time and money for learning and improves the efficiency of learning. At the same time, Xi’an RTVU’s role of teaching management and coordination is brought into full play in order to integrate each school’s teacher resources and optimise the allocation of teaching resources. The construction of an integrated teaching model by way of resource sharing in all branch schools (work stations and study centres) has coordinated and intensified teaching and teaching management. The overall soft power of teaching has been upgraded and the student satisfaction rates continue to improve.
IV. Initiate an “intelligent learning plan” to promote teaching innovation with information technology
The positive construction of an intelligent teaching environment is one of the major education projects implemented by Xi’an RTVU. In 2017, Xi’an RTVU explored and reformed the teaching model and talent training model against the background of internet plus in light of the concepts of innovation, vitality, linkage, and opening oriented to realising autonomous and free intelligent learning by taking humanisation, science, personalisation, precision, and high efficiency as its principles. The aim was to create an intelligent teaching environment, enhance soft and hard environment support, further integrate the teacher and technician teams, improve the efficiency of teaching management, and put effective teaching in place.
VR courses have been introduced in order to offer adult students and, in particular, students from science and engineering majors a immersive and virtual experience. The “Let Me Learn” app has been launched and a cloud learning platform is being researched and developed. This allows students to learn anywhere, anytime by making use of mobile internet. New technologies such as VR, AR, MR, and holograms smooth away real-life teaching and learning difficulties, wmaking the students’ learning and practice activities more complete and effective. Systematic lecturing resources have been reasonably arranged, and mobile resources have been designed and built using systematic thinking.
The facilities built so far include one recording classroom, three cloud classrooms, two 3D studios, one studio, two real scene settings, and about 30 multimedia classrooms. In addition, seven OUC excellent courses and 36 online courses have been created, of which 10 courses have been awarded first prize in a national multimedia courseware competition. Furthermore, 243 systematic micro lectures have been created, and 4,708 classes and 631 unified classes are now being taught. A professional course teaching team made up of teachers and technicians has been established. Coordination and innovation have consistently been enhanced in order to improve the professional level and practical skills, making joint teaching design to condense and make the team culture.
V. Carry out the “teaching experts” and “learning fiends” online selection activities to stimulate innovation among teachers and increase enthusiasm among students
In order to adapt to teaching reform, earnestly improve online teaching efficiency, further improve the teachers’ online teaching ability and level, cultivate open education experts, stimulate innovation among teachers, increase students’ enthusiasm, and constantly improve the students’ online learning capacity, Xi’an RTVU has carried out a number of online selection activities, including “online teaching experts” for teachers and “online learning fiends” and “I learn I show” for students.
These selection activities work as an overall examination of online teaching in the schools, and are also a platforms for teachers to reform and innovate online teaching. The role of the student judges as the main force of judgment and the role of expert judges in supervision and management as the third social party are brought into full play.
These activities have helped students to consciously form good learning habits. They positively log onto the internet to watch and listen to course teaching resources, actively participate in all kinds of online teaching activities, and complete online assignments and course learning plans on time. The teachers have enriched their practical experience of online teaching, which has increased the participation of student in online teaching and learning, as well as their learning results. The students have gained advanced experience and mastered learning skills in these activities. At the same time, the teachers have been given reasonable, guided requirements, which has actively promoted the improvement of the technological level and the updating of teaching resources.
VI. Implement the “five-star tutors” training plan
Effective training for tutors should be enhanced, and the guidance and training given to branch schools at the grassroots should be included in the routine of teaching support. Only in this way, can the tutors offer the students better learning support and better advance of teaching to get the expected results.
Xi’an RTVU has formulated and implemented the “five-star tutors” training plan and training has been provided for tutors in branch schools (work stations and study centres) from the perspectives of theoretical learning, experience exchange, observation and discussion, and tests. The theoretical level and job competence of the tutors have greatly improved, and their enthusiasm and initiative has also increased, stimulating the vitality of teaching and reform. It is now possible to give targeted support to meet the students needs, effectively improving teaching and learning.
By Bo Minli, OUC Bayi School