On 22nd May 2017, at the OUC Weishanzhuang conference centre, 31 elite tutors from the art major of 23 OUC branches gathered in Beijing to listen to the lecture Cutting Edge Interior Design Concept delivered by Professor Li Chaoyang from Tsinghua University Academy of Art and Design.

This is a backbone tutor series training class that has been held for the past five years. During the training, the participants also had close contact with many famous figures in the art industry, such as Professor Yao Lu from the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA); Tian Boping, council member of China Calligraphers Association, and vice chairman and general secretary of Beijing Calligraphers Association stationed at the residential association; Professor Li Sa from Tsinghua University Academy of Art and Design; and Professor Sun Tao from the Central Academy of Fine Arts. During the training, they learnt about cutting-edge art concepts, traditional art creation, new technology applications, and online core course team construction.

Currently, there are 82,700 full-time and part-time tutors in the OUC system, of which, 47,500 are full-time tutors. The number of tutors who earned a senior title reached 17,900. As of the end of May 2017, the OUC has held 86 workshops for backbone tutors in the school system. 6,343 backbone tutors have attended the workshops and obtained graduation certificates, greatly boosting the quality of the teaching staff in the school system. The OUC is striving to become a top-level university with a first-class teaching faculty.

Standard research capabilities and sound training system

The OUC Construction Plan specifies five “first class” things: First-class teaching faculty, first-class teaching content, first-class teaching methods, first-class resources and textbooks, first-class teaching management and support services. Of these, "first-class teaching faculty" is considered a priority and in reality, the other four are closely related to the high-quality teaching team.
To this end, the OUC has organised a special team to carry out questionnaires, field investigation, and interviews based on an analysis of the statistical yearbook's teaching faculty data. It has collected and analysed hundreds of documents on teaching faculty management systems within the school system, as well as hundreds of copies of materials on teaching staff training and cultivation. It has also compiled a number of reports, including the Report on the OUC Teaching Faculty Situation, Report on the Investigation into the OUC Teaching Staff, and Report on the Investigation into Full-time Tutors at the OUC Headquarters. The OUC has completed the special subject The Development of Open University Tutors, designed the Standards for the Teaching Abilities of OUC Tutors (Draft for Discussion) and The Roles and Responsibilities of OUC Tutors (Draft for Discussion). It has also launched the accreditation and accumulation of the continuing education learning outcomes of the school system tutors.

Furthermore, the OUC has modified and issued the Interim Management Measures for the Workshop for OUC System Backbone Tutors and the Interim Measures for the Expenses Management of the Workshop of the Backbone Tutors of the OUC System. Based on the working tasks and capability standards, the OUC has studied and created the OUC tutor workshop course system, which includes eight course categories and 35 workshop themes. It has conducted initial explorations into a construction method for the internal teaching faculty, promoting the absorption of excellent work experience and the effective promotion of the teaching academics.

Launch the tutor workshop website and build a new platform for workshops

On 10th September 2015, the OUC 1,000 person capacity hall was filled with happiness. On this Teachers' Day, the OUC commended teaching staff who have great contributions to the OUC development over the past 30 years, and the launch of the tutor workshop website was announced.

The tutor workshop website has a number of different functions, including courses, study projects, study resources, BBS, personal study space, and achievement display. The rich content and high level of practicability are very popular with the tutors. 

Kuang Debao, a tutor from Qingdao branch, said: “After a year, I returned to the OUC to recharge my knowledge. I have benefited a lot from the training. The knowledgeable professors, amicable leaders, and my friendly OUC colleagues are like old friends. In order to improve the overall teaching level, this year we have dispatched eight backbone tutors to attend the OUC training class. We strive to improve the quality and horizons of our teaching faculty, so as to better serve the OUC and its students. We look forward to making greater progress in this training session!"
Zhong Ning from Jiangxi RTVU issued a journal on the website, describing his great expectations for the workshop: "I firmly believe that with the joints efforts of lecturers and students this training session will achieve the desired results, as we can receive lectures and guidance from domestic and international experts and scholars, in combination with our diligent study."

Chen Yan from Beijing Open University issued a personal journal titled Teaching Designer on the website to share her study resources with her colleagues: "Today, Lecturer Gu Xiaohua mentioned the concept of a "teaching designer" and I have found some related materials from previous training sessions. I would like to share it with you." The read count of this article has reached more than 600.

As the tool and carrier of the workshops, the workshop website is not only a window for the tutors to view the latest news, study cutting-edge knowledge, and exchange views with experts and scholars, but also a platform for them to express their feelings, exchange their views, and enhance their connects.

As of April 2017, the number of registered users on the tutor workshop website has reached 5,934, publishing 567 posts and 1,152 hours of video clips. "Online teaching design", "online tutoring", and other series of courses were popular with the tutors. They said that the lecturers always gave timely, targeted, and instructional responses to their queries. The structure of this course is the basic requirement for online tutoring, the principle, and the methodology. For RTVU tutors, the design of the online tutoring activities is helpful and inspirational. Many posts have offered inspiration and help, such as Long Yan's post "story of the skirts", Ye Baolin from Heilongjiang RTVU’s class overview, and the humorous teaching experiences shared by Rao Guanjun, Zhejiang RTVU.

Innovate the research study model and reform the training model

From 13th March to 25th July 2016, the OUC held the Experimental School Tutors Action Learning Programme, the longest tutor workshop carried out by the OUC. This training adopted the concept of "learning by doing,” integrating six training models, including face-to-face lecturing, online learning, group discussion, on-site inspection and learning, cross-discipline learning, and themed workshop, so as to maximise the effects of the training. 24 tutors and head teachers from the Experimental School attended the training and 20 of them obtained graduation certificates after the assessment.

This programme lasted for one semester, took the operation model of enterprises as reference, and included nine consecutive days of face-to-face training. It had four main sections, subject study, themed discussions, reading club, and teaching stories. It was divided into six stages: launch workshop, import workshop, theme workshop (world coffee), subject learning ("P" learning conference), themed workshop (open space), themed workshop (future exploration), and summary workshop (action plan). They invited external facilitators, internal learning tutors, and associate coaches to take part, made use of active learning technologies to effectively improve the rigid models and realise sharing and innovation.

The OUC has been delving deeper into the innovation of the training model and methods in terms of teaching staff training.

In addition to the offline workshop, the OUC has also organised five online workshop sessions, forming three different workshop models: online learning + face-to-face lecture workshop, online live broadcasting + online homework, and learning activity-based online learning. The OUC has explored a performance assessment management model for the trainers that is based on working quantity and focuses on training effects. The OUC has organised 11 cross-discipline learning activities for 573 tutors. They visited Internet education companies, corporate universities, and other agencies and studied Internet thinking and innovation cases. The learning activities combined on-site participation and online live broadcasts. As of now, six cross-discipline learning lectures and workshops have been held, with 674 tutors from the school system participating in the activities.

The tutor workshop also went down to the OUC branches and trainings were carried out in different regions across China. As of May 2017, the OUC headquarters has held the OUC learning website application workshop in different regions in Chengdu, Nanjing, and Chongqing. About 400 tutors and managers from the Sichuan branch, Chengdu branch, Nanjing branch, Jiangsu branch, Chongqing branch, and Hubei branch attended the training. The OUC adopts a trickle-down hierarchical training model, first holding training workshops for the backbone tutors and technicians, and then the tutors, managers, and technicians who have attended the training carried out the second-level training in their local branches. This time, however, the training was carried out by the OUC directly in the local branches, enabling more backbone tutors from the branches, Schools, and Study Centres to engage in the training. This has improved the coverage of the training and reduced the information loss resulting from hierarchical training. The training also adopted the small-class teaching mode, which has improved the relevance of the training.