From December 18th to 19th, 2014, the first working conference of the Committee of Standards for Instruction (CSI) of the Open University of China (OUC) kicked off in Zhuhai. A total of 35 people, including Li Linshu, the OUC Vice President, Vice Director of the Committee on Quality Assurance (CQA) as well as Director of CSI, Fang Jianzhuang, Secretary of the Party Committee and Member of CQA of Guangdong Open University, as well as members of the CSI, invited specialists, and leaders from Zhuhai RTVU attended the conference.

The main focus of the conference was on improving the quality of OUC development, launching the work of CSI, studying and examining the working rules and plans of the committee, discussing and reviewing the Framework of Quality Standards and the 2015 Quality Standards of the OUC. The conference was presided over by two vice directors of CSI, Gong Xiangguo and Zhong Zhixian.

Li Linshu expounded on the current state of the quality of the OUC's development, focusing on the basis on which teaching can be guaranteed. He clearly noted that the OUC’s quality standards were devised so as to assure their full implementation and that the discussion and examination of the 2015 Quality Standards was to pioneer efforts at transitioning further toward the construction of a high standard of quality. He stressed that the framework of the quality standards should be transparent as to its elements, structure and connections, and coordinate with the working rules of the OUC. The framework should also be relatively stable and facilitate the growth of future quality standards. The quality standard system should be structured on the basis of this framework.   

Secretary-General of the CQA, Guo Qingchun, introduced the drafting of the quality standards of the OUC. The quality standards of the OUC were completed step by step in different phases, building on the groundwork principle “International Model, Chinese References”, and further based on the comparison and study of the quality standards of international open and distance education, and the instruction of the working method of “Leading by Topics, Framework First, Promotion by Organizations and Multiple Participation. ”

Participants were separated into four groups in order to conduct complete and in-depth research of the conference materials. After discussion, they agreed on the following: During the key period of strategy transformation and upgrading of the OUC, the work performed by the CSI will be significant; the work procedures of the committee should be simple and clear, with practical work plans; the basis of the quality standard framework should be solid, the system structure should be clear, the module level should be reasonable, adapted to the characteristics of the OUC, and well matched to its specific needs and circumstances. Through collective examination, the working procedures and work plans of the CSI were approved by all members. The framework of quality standards and the standards of the OUC have been approved and specific modifications have been put forward.  

Zhong Zhixian summarized the conference. He pointed out that, during the meeting, all the members honestly spoke their minds, drawing on their respective professional wisdom. The conference discussed and approved the conference materials, reached a basic consensus, and achieved the desired goal. Quality standards are one of the fundamental conditions for ensuring the quality of learner development. As standards are developed and introduced, they can act as a road map for future plans, rules for operation, a standard for monitoring implementation, and references for comparison. Quality standard-setting work is very meaningful. However, since time is tight and tasks are heavy, theoretical research and practical application must be continually researched and updated.

On April 25, the OUC Quality Assurance Committee held its first meeting, which approved the proposal of setting up four sub committees, including teaching standards, conditions guarantee, teaching supervision, and evaluation and assessment committees under the OUC, and the member list for the sub committees was agreed upon. On May 19, the “Notification about the Establishment of Sub Committees under OUC Quality Assurance Committee (OUC President’s Office (2014) 20th)” was officially printed and issued. The notice clearly stated the main functions of the CSI: to research, plan for and instruct on standards development as it relates to the structure of teaching and teaching management of the OUC, to participate in the establishment of relevant standards, to provide a foundation for the standardization of teaching and teaching management, and to implement the scientific and effective monitoring of the teaching process.

By Xie Xin, the OUC