To regulate the development of after-school training, the general office of the State Council issued Opinions on Regulating the Development of After-School Training in August 2018, pointing out that we should focus on the supervision and control of teacher training. Access to online education, an important part of after-school training, is open, but it has much higher requirements in terms of teaching resources, as well as research and teaching levels. Developing effective online teachers requires careful consideration.

High standards of professional qualification should be established for online teachers.

According to iResearch, the market size of online education in China has reached 235.1 billion yuan in 2018, and is expected to reach 272.7 billion yuan in 2019, a growth rate of 16%. Statistical Report on Internet Development in China says that, as of June 2018, the number of monthly users of online-education apps exceeded 220 million. Despite this, the apps frequently receive negative reviews, and the main reason is a lack of qualified teachers. This means that teacher supervision needs to be strengthened. After all, online education is not fundamentally different from traditional education, and teachers are its primary resource. Teaching standards therefore need to be put in place, and met.

Any kind of teacher needs to be qualified to teach, and should possess certification to that effect. Data show that, in the second half of 2018, over four million people applied to take the teacher-qualification-certificate examination; at the same time, an investigation has shown that the numbers passing the written test in four cities (Hefei, Zhengzhou, Wuhan and Guangzhou) has fallen, suggesting greater strictness in evaluation – a positive sign for the enhancement of teaching quality.

A new system of online-teacher training should be set up

Teachers are basic to education, and teacher training needs to be a top priority. Online teachers should be held to the same standards in terms of training in teaching, research and psychology as traditional classroom teachers are.

In the teacher-training system of an educational enterprise, for example, an exclusive file is set up for each teacher to keep a record of teaching experience and training, teaching evaluations, qualifications, and so on. This promotes teacher development, provides a basis for promotion, and builds a development framework covering 12 professional abilities in four stages, providing multiple channels for career development. What’s more, it targets training at the level of a given teacher, and includes three training modules covering general education, teaching literacy and product training.

Optimise online teaching model, and transform high-quality resources to promote fairness

With the growth of online education, many teachers have begun to focus on enhancing it. Educational resources have been optimised and placed online, and a similar step should be taken in relation to teacher training, with a specific focus on the unique aspects of online education.

Online teachers should be able to exploit the nature of the internet in their work, understanding its limitations and realising its advantages in terms of interaction, repetition, the motivation of students and other aspects.

High-quality teacher training is a prerequisite for sustainable development of online education, and its growth will benefit education as a whole.

By Xun Xiaojun, China Education Daily