Liu Zhanrong arrived at China Central Radio and TV University (CCRTVU) in 1994, having just graduated from Northeast Normal University. In the 19 years that he has worked at CCRTVU (now the OUC) he has become a true “elder” of the university. He first started as a teacher at the School of Foreign Languages, and later worked as the director of the Teaching and Research Section, assistant dean, and then vice dean. In 2011, he took on the position of dean of the School of Foreign Languages. Over the past 19 years, he has made the students his priority, striving to do his best in every aspect of his teaching. Liu Zhanrong was recently selected as a “Beijing Outstanding Teacher”.  

A leading role in the production of outstanding courses

Liu Zhanrong is the backbone of course construction at the School of Foreign Languages. He is in charge of the English major and overall course planning for the whole school, and also participates in the construction of more than 10 courses. He leads course groups such as Comprehensive English, Online College English B, and Advanced English. To date, he has published 13 textbooks, seven teaching outlines, and seven course construction integration plans. The courses and materials he has taken part in add up to more than 400 million words, 60 hours of recordings, 100 IP lectures, 50 video lectures, and 56 pieces of mobile learning courseware. He is in charge of hosting three online courses and completes more than 300 teaching hours every year. 

Liu Zhanrong is the leading teacher for more than 10 courses. He focuses on reforming the English major by developing innovative teaching practices. The Comprehensive English online courses that he developed were chosen as 2008 Outstanding National Courses (online education). Following a series of edits, the courses were selected as 2012 Outstanding National Resources Sharing Courses. The experts gave evaluations as follows: the contents of the courses were vivid and flexible and highly interactive. There are good feedbacks from students after use. 

Strengthening teamwork and communication to accelerate reform 

In the autumn of 2009, CCRTVU began the construction of seven RTVU course  teaching teams, including the Comprehensive English team. Liu Zhanrong led this course teaching team. 

Liu Zhanrong is well aware of the teaching team’s strategic significance as part of RTVU reform. During the construction of the Comprehensive English team, he coordinated nearly 50 team members and carried out a number of important tasks, including surveying 1,144 students and 117 teachers; designing teaching plans for 40 units; designing and recording six teaching videos; and designing and producing 40 IP lectures on language learning skills, grammar and cultural comparison. He has conducted 814 mobile learning experiments, including sending 46,000 MMSs (multimedia messaging services) to students. After these reforms, the content, audio-visual resources, ease of self-testing, and support services of the Comprehensive English course were greatly improved. Students are of the opinion that “the teaching materials have clear aims, interesting content, a fresh layout and strong coordination with other types of media.”

During the process of team construction, Liu Zhanrong used QQ to answer questions from team members and communicate with them. He created academic learning and communication conditions and guided 45 team members to publish 25 academic papers, and carry out six cooperation research projects related to course teaching. In addition, seven members of the team obtained higher professional titles. 

In spring 2013, the Comprehensive English team pilot scheme was completed successfully. With this duty fulfilled, Liu Zhanrong immediately started to lead his team on a new journey. At present, he is implementing the construction of a college English teaching team exploring a new operating mechanism. 

Working with and for students

Liu Zhanrong believes in a student-centred teaching concept and adheres to the spirit of “everything in the name of the students”. He has said that, no matter whether he is engaging in teaching reform, teaching resource construction or course team construction, the satisfaction of his students is always his main objective. 

Many RTVU students have weak English, which is often exacerbated by work-study conflicts. In order to strengthen teaching results, Liu Zhanrong increased the interactivity of learning assignments. He has worked with grassroots teachers and students so as to understand the students’ study situation. He specifically put forward online practice forms using an animated environment as part of online course design, so as to imitate and strengthen real communication ability. 

In order to increase the students’ confidence in English learning, Liu Zhanrong used MMS to help students complete learning assignments as part of a mobile learning experiment project. He often sends festival greetings and creates a feeling of closeness with the students.

Continually improving the quality of his own study

Despite being busy, Liu Zhanrong never stops studying. Between August 1997 and September 1998, he studied at Brighton University, obtaining an MA in literature. 

He also focuses on teaching research. He has published or jointly published more than 10 academic papers, participated in three key projects from the MOE, and undertaken the translation of important documents pertaining to the construction of the OUC, the Strategic Plan for the Open University of China and A Guide to Quality in Online Learning. 

He believes that it is necessary to improve the quality of English major teachers within the RTVU system. He has designed and organized over 30 training sessions for more than 50 teachers, including eight overseas training sessions. He has made a substantial contribution to improving the teaching level of English teachers in the RTVU system.