In 2013, 2014, and 2015, the Open University of China (OUC) respectively compiled the China Distance Higher Education Development Research Report (2012), the China Distance Higher Education Development Research Report (2013), and the China Distance Higher Education Development Research Report (2014), published by the Open University of China Press (formerly China Central Radio and Television University Press).

This series of annual reports has aroused a great deal of attention in the distance education and higher education fields in China. The reports are very popular with distance higher education practitioners. The reports were selected as part of the 12th “Five-Year” National Key Publishing Plan Programme (Academic Books) and won second prize for “Excellent Academic Works” at the 4th China University Press Book Awards. They also won first prize for 9th National Adult Education Outstanding Scientific Research (Works).

In order to further summarise the development of distance education in China in 2015, understand the overall trends in distance education in China, and offer constructive suggestions for the compilation of the China Distance Higher Education Development Research Report (2017), the OUC Education Research Institute held a forum entitled “Sharing our experiences of compiling the China Distance Higher Education Development Research Report" on 18th, 20th, and 25th October, 2016. The institute leveraged the Doctoral Development Forum research and communication platform to invite a number of scholars who have participated in the compilation of the report to share their experiences. The forum was presided over by director of the School of Economics and Management Liu Zhimin, young scholar from the Education Research Institute Zhang Manyin, and Professor Li Shangbo. Yang Shijian from the School of Economics and Management, Sun Jiangtao from School of Arts and Law, Cheng Gang and Cui Naipeng from the Learner Support Centre, Li Guangde from the School of Agroforestry and Medicine, and other young tutors and scholars from the Education Research Institute, including Liu Shu, Li Wei, Liu Fang, and Tan Wei, elaborated on the main parts of the report from three different perspectives: an overview of distance higher education in China, a themed report on the development of distance higher education in China, and a comparison of domestic and international research and development trends in distance higher education.

Director of the Education Research Institute Wang Ying delivered a speech at the opening of the forum, in which she talked about the launch of the report, its compilation process, and its social influence. She pointed out that the reports adhere to the OUC's guidelines and that they are compiled by industry experts and scholars from China and abroad. The reports represent a high level of quality in the distance higher education field in China.

Yang Shijian from the School of Economics and Management delivered a speech entitled An Overview of Distance Higher Education in China (2014). In his report, he introduced the process and research methods used to compile the China Distance Higher Education Development Research Report (2015). He said that the report is designed to analyse different cases in order to come up with a set of objective principles that can be applied to the development of distance education in China, so as to help distance education practitioners to understand the industry’s dynamic development trends and better serve their students.

Cui Naipeng from the Learner Support Centre delivered a speech entitled An Overview of the Development of Distance Higher Education in China (2015). He believes that there is a great deal of differentiation between the enrolment scale of degree-level continuing education at different RTVUs across China. The development of non-degree continuing education has maintained its momentum. The open university system should seize the opportunity to further strengthen the top-level design of non-degree continuing education, and enlarge the coverage and cooperation targets of non-degree education. Furthermore, he hopes that the open university system can improve teaching quality, increase the degree of informatisation, and further develop and improve the construction of the credit bank.

Sun Jiangtao from the School of Arts and Law researches universities for the elderly and carried out field research via questionnaire and in-depth interview with his research team in Shanghai, Hunan, Xi'an, Chengdu, and Hainan in order to complete a report on remote education for the elderly in China. According to the research team, education for the elderly is currently undergoing rapid development. The open university system should take advantage of modern distance education to not only strength education for the elderly, but also to focus on the development of service personnel for the elderly.

Cheng Gang from the Learner Support Centre delivered a report entitled Mobile Learning. In his report, he introduced the development background of the mobile Internet, the definition of mobile learning, and the research and practice of the development of mobile learning. He used the progress in mobile learning made by the OUC as an example to analyse the latest development of current mobile learning in terms of theoretical research, resource construction, technology development, and application models. He also forecast potential challenges, opportunities, and development trends.

Li Guangde from the School of Agroforestry and Medicine delivered a speech entitled “Thoughts on the OUC's Practice of Carrying Out Modern Distance Education for Farmers, Taking the ‘One College Student Per Village’ Programme as an Example.” He used the “One College Student Per Village” as a case study to summarise the achievements made by the OUC in carrying out modern distance education for farmers and solving the problems encountered. He then analysed the causes of the problems and put forward solutions.

Liu Shu from the Education Research Institute delivered a report entitled “The Current State of Research and Development Trends in Distance Higher Education in China.” She gave a summary of the development trends of distance higher education in China. She pointed out that in terms of the development environment, online education industry has made a breakthrough. The relevant policies have shown hints of reform. The strong development momentum seen among MOOCs will bring about potential shocks in the industry. In terms of a development model, a variety of forms of education are moving towards deep integration. Finally, in terms of dynamic development impetus, users expect to experience highly differential education.
  
Li Wei from the Education Research Institute delivered a speech entitled “Research and Development Trends in International Distance Higher Education.” She said that technologies such as the flipped classroom, maker space, wearable technology, self-adaptive learning technology, and Internet of things will all affect the development of distance higher education in the near future. Applying these technologies to distance teaching in practice has become a major trend in the development of international distance higher education.

By Chu Xiaoji, OUC
Source: China RTVU News