Editor's notes: "OUC's Reading and Essay Campaign" is an essay collection campaign held annually by the OUC. It was designed to encourage the teaching faculty of the OUC to form a habit of reading books, to inspire them to focus on profound thinking and bold innovation. The activity is expected to enhance the teaching staffs’ ideological quality as well as the working level of the OUC. We will compile a selection of excellent articles from the 2016 Reading and Essay Campaign, and readers can access these articles from this website.

I. Thoughts on the “Popularity” and “Unpopularity” of Micro-Lectures

(I) “Popularity” and “unpopularity” of micro-lectures

With micro-lectures drawing the attention of the general public since 2013, many people have predicted that micro-lectures, together with “MOOCs”, “flipped classroom” and “mobile learning”, will set off a revolution in the field of education. It’s true that the fever over the topic of “micro-lectures” hasn’t faded over the past three years, which is mainly reflected in the following: (1) In terms of research, “micro-lectures” themed research literature has seen an annual increase of 20 percent; (2) the rising tide of micro-lecture contests has been consistent, and the scale of the contests, as well as the quantity and quality of submitted works has improved significantly; (3) with the continuous input of social capital, topics for online “micro-lecture” education projects have risen sharply.

Meanwhile, the enthusiasm for micro-lectures couldn’t disguise the disfavor it came across. First, to the teachers, their enthusiasm for micro-lecture production and development is based more on contests and competitions, the micro-lectures are not integrated into actual teaching, and most of them are showcased in the “boutiques” of teaching resources more like “vases”; second, to learners, micro-lectures can only be an “eye-popper” instead of “giving off light sustainably”. The novel style of micro-lectures does arouse learners’ interest and impresses as something fresh and new. However, learners gradually find that this kind of learning seems to be a “pastime” after class, and can’t be a substitute for formal learning courses.

(II) Relevant thoughts

How did this phenomenon come into being? It is worth paying attention to the following two reasons.

The first is “old wine in new bottles”. To teachers, the micro-lecture is not only a new kind of teaching resource but also a new kind of education philosophy and teaching model. The application of micro-lectures needs to be supported by the corresponding “micro teaching” theory and guaranteed by the corresponding strategy. Only in this way can micro-lectures be agreeable in content and form. If the micro-lecture is always defined as a kind of supplementary teaching resource for the existing teaching model, its will remain an embarrassing and dispensable appendage.

The second is “giving off light without generating heat”. At present, even though developers and reviewers of micro-lectures seem to have given excessive attention to the form of micro-lectures, that is, their brilliant “appearance”, the contents of the micro-lectures are not thought out sufficiently, and the “heat” of knowledge can’t be passed on to the learners.

A simple way to judge whether a new type of teaching resource or teaching model is full of vitality is to see whether it will be integrated into real teaching, and continue to benefit the students even after the end of popular contests or programmes. If not, teachers will eventually return to the traditional teaching model once there is no project support or initiatives based on awards or contests. If so, it can be concluded that this kind of micro-lecture teaching form was just a flash in the pan. It wasn’t really giving off light and heat in a real sense.

This paper holds that the research on micro-lectures shall adhere to “quietness in a noisy neighbourhood”. Consideration shall be given to how to design and develop the contents of micro-lectures with the product manufacturing concept from the perspective of the learners. The standard for us to judge micro-lectures should be recognised by learners. This paper discusses how to enhance the usability of micro-lectures from the perspective of improving the learner experience. It’s necessary to point out that the micro-lectures referred to in this paper include not only the simple “micro-lecture” for the learning of some knowledge point but also “micro-lectures” for systematic learning of one subject. It can thus be said to have more significance in analysing micro-lectures as used in the micro teaching environment.