In order to further enhance the quality of teaching, implement the requirements of the “Six-Network Integration” training model, and strengthen the construction of the teaching team put forward in the Comprehensive Reform Scheme for the Open University of China (OUC), the OUC launched a pilot programme for the construction of 188 online teaching teams, including 84 for the headquarters and 104 for its branches. A working meeting about the pilot work required for online teaching team construction was convened in Beijing from 23rd to 24th March.

OUC president Yang Zhijian, vice presidents Li Linshu and Liu Chen, teachers participating in the pilot work at the OUC headquarters, heads of related departments, leaders in charge of teaching, personnel from teaching management departments, and related curriculum teachers from each branch (school) took part in the meeting either in person or by means of live video broadcast. Li Linshu presided over the meeting. 

Yang Zhi Jian elaborated on concepts including the “School-Running Community”, “Supply Side Structural Reform”, the “Six-Network Integration” model and the “ Online Teaching Team”, providing a global background and macro vision for the construction of network-based teaching teams. The concept of “School-Running Community” emphasises that the subject bodies of various parties participating in the construction of the OUC should work together on discussion, construction, management, sharing, and realising a win-win situation. The headquarters and all branch schools should assume their respective responsibilities and perform their due obligations. Under the vision of the “School-Running Community”, the key point of enhancing quality and building brands is to put the students at the centre and to deepen teaching reform from the perspective of supply side structural reform. The OUC should set up majors and curricula that meet the training targets and objects and establish a talent training mode with its own characteristics. The OUC is now advancing the reform of the “Six-Network Integration” talent training model, whose core aim is to effectively organise the students and teachers through the network space, promote learning, and help them obtain more knowledge and humanity, in order to enhance student satisfaction, build a more powerful brand, and create a better future. The key element of the “Six-Network Integration” model is the network-based teaching team, which should be formed within the OUC organisation system, based on specific majors and centred on courses. The scale of the teaching team should be enlarged on the basis of the experience obtained during the pilot programmes, and new models and mechanisms that cover the entire population of 3.6 million students should be explored. The pilot work is a milestone in the process. The OUC should enhance its reputation and quality and aspire for a better future through a series of reforms and exploratory efforts.

Cheng Gang, deputy director of the Centre for Learning Support and Students’ Affairs of the OUC, offered an interpretation of the overall concepts and goals of online teaching team construction and illustrated the key points, timeline, and relevant issues of the pilot programme. Yin Zhiying, a tutor from the OUC ,and Zhang Li, a tutor from the Xinjiang Bingtuan branch, shared their experience of online teaching team construction for the courses of Human Physiology and Political Theory, respectively. Zuo Kejun, from the Jiangsu branch, and Xiang Yu, from the Chongqing branch, shared practical experiences of organising and developing online teaching team construction at the branch level.

The OUC mobile learning app was brought online for the first time in order to provide technical support for online teaching team construction, with Wang Xinhong, vice president of Super Star Company, giving a demonstration. The OUC’s mobile learning app offers strong social contact functions and rich mobile learning resources. At present, customised mobile teaching functions are being further developed, which will create a flexible, convenient environment and set of tools for the network teaching team to cooperate with each other effectively. In order to coordinate the operation of the online teaching team, the OUC Information Department is continually improving the functions of the teaching platform, such as two-level platforms for course arrangements and statistics on the number of posts per course. Wang Weiyan from the Information Technology Department gave a detailed introduction to how to use different software functions on the OUC learning network in order to better carry out teaching.

Attendees held discussions on the establishment, organisation, and operation of the network teaching team and a consensus was reached on the following three points. Firstly, the online teaching team and the “Six-network Integration” learner development model are highly significant in for the promotion of learning behaviours, the implementation of the teaching process and the enhancement of the quality of talent training, and the construction of online teaching. Secondly, the construction of the online teaching team is a comprehensive reform process involving the coordination of the complete OUC organisation system and thus needs further attention and implementation from each participating body. The OUC headquarters and its branches should give more support to the pilot teaching teams in terms of mechanisms, policy, funds, and technology, and adopt multiple methods to motivate and enhance the enthusiasm of the teachers. Thirdly, a more relaxed space should be provided for the pilot course teams to explore and innovate under the overall planning of the teaching department at the headquarters, and at the same time, more attention should be paid to the quality of online teaching team construction.

After the meeting, the OUC Teacher Development Centre will work together with the Centre for Learning Support and Students’ Affairs and the Information Technology Department to carry out special training for online teaching teams in different areas, and to accelerate the progress of related work.

By Cui Naipeng, OUC