The Seventh “Forum for Teachers in Chinese Distance Education” was held in Wuhan, Hubei on November 28, 2013. It was jointly sponsored by Hubei Radio and Television University (RTVU), the publishers of Distance Education in China and the Teacher Development Center of the Open University of China, under the theme “The real magicians: innovative applications of information technology in open university teaching practice”.


The development of information technology and its integration with education and teaching, particular its innovative application as part of open university teaching practice, is a major way for open universities to advance the reform of learner formation methods, improve the quality of learner formation and enhance education characteristics, and strengthen education so as to fit in with the diverse needs for lifelong learning throughout society. According to Dr. Craig R. Barrett, former chairman of the board of Intel Corporation, information technology “is not magic, teachers are. All the educational technology in classrooms today is worth nothing if teachers don’t know how to use it effectively”. Twelve teachers from Hubei RTVU gave interpretations of the above theory from different perspectives.

Fu Limin, deputy secretary of the Work Committee of Institutions of Higher Education, Hubei CPC Committee and deputy secretary of Hubei RTVU CPC Committee: Teachers are the key to running open universities.

“This forum is being held in Hubei shortly after the completion of the Third Plenary Session of the Eighteenth CPC Central Committee. This is an important event of Hubei RTVU staff to promote the development of teaching”.

Fu Limin said that teachers are the cornerstone for open universities to give full play to their functions and shoulder their mission as part of the construction of a learning society in China. They are the key to running open universities. Whether at home or abroad, the common strategic focus of contemporary education is to prioritize the development of teachers, formulate professional standards, upgrade professional status, improve professional capacity and enhance professional quality. In order to successfully run open universities, improve the teaching level and advance connotation construction, the fundamental step for us is to depend on our teachers. The forum aims to lead teachers in the exploration and practice of the integration of information technology with teaching. It will play a positive role in initiating Hubei RTVU’s further progress in improving teaching quality and strengthening connotation construction.

OUC Vice President Li Ling: Teachers have the power to ensure the quality of education and teaching.

 “This forum for teachers is themed around the innovative application of information technology in open university teaching practice. It is extremely appealing to teachers in open and distance education and is also of special practical significance”.

Li Ling spoke of his three thoughts on open universities. Firstly, successfully running open universities and RTVUs is a great responsibility. China’s human resources are numerous but as yet weak. The development of education must be prioritized in order to strengthen these resources. Education modernization will be realized in China by 2020, allowing it to enter the rank of countries with strong human resources. Open universities are a major pillar of a learning society.

Secondly, a sense of the responsibility of serving learners in open and distance education should be established. A learner-centered educational concept should be upheld and materialized into a system design that inspires vitality and competence. Consideration should be given to whether teaching content, teaching ideas, teaching methods, tutorial arrangement, assessment methods and the construction of learning resources can better meet the needs of learners and whether the learning and management modes offered truly encourage their confidence in learning.

Thirdly, teachers in open and distance education must be examples of lifelong learning. In the strategic transformation from RTVUs to open universities, we must continue to explore a variety of fields, including teaching ideas, education models, knowledge services, a quality guarantee system, and the application of information technology. As such, teachers must be sure that they themselves are examples of lifelong learning. Only in this way can they keep pace with development and perform their own duties to the best of their ability. Although information technology is not magic, teachers are truly magicians.

Yan Bing, Vice President of the OUC: The words “education for all people without discrimination, education in accordance with individual differences, the application of diverse teaching methods, and mutual benefits in teaching and learning” describe our mission to spur on teaching reform with the application of information technology.

“The development of information technology has provided a new space for the transition of open universities, new possibilities for the survival and development of open universities, and new ways for us to realize these possibilities”.

Yan Bing highlighted the practical, and potentially positive role, of the application of information technology in upgrading teaching quality. It will also play a positive role in promoting the establishment of a unique OUC university culture. The innovative application of information technology in open universities can be summarized in the words “education for all people without discrimination, education in accordance with individual differences, the application of diverse teaching methods, and mutual benefits in teaching and learning”. One of the most important aspects of the integration of information technology with education is research into teaching at the academic level.

Teacher representatives: Describing the innovative application of information technology in open university teaching practice from multiple perspectives.

Twelve teachers from RTVUs in Shiyan, Yichang, Xiaogan Xianning, Huangshi and Huanggang made speeches at the forum. They described the requirements for the development of information technology in terms of the role, quality, capacity, work content and work methods of teachers in open universities, and put forward their views on issues such as how teachers at open universities should effectively apply information technology as part of the reform of learner formation methods and what paths they can take to improve their ability in using information technology by combining their teaching practice and ideas from twelve different perspectives. These perspective are: The Transformation from Distance Education Teachers to Magicians, Strategies to Improve Teachers’ Information Technology abilities, The Improvement of Teachers’ Roles and Abilities under MOOCs Conditions, The Function of Teaching Designers in Distance Education Course Teams, The Innovation and Exploration of a Cloud Platform-Based Teaching Model, The Construction and Practice of Teaching Design for Online Cooperative Learning of Open English, The Reform and Innovation of Basic Computer Science Course Teaching under Cloud Conditions, Difficulties and Countermeasures in the Construction of Microlectures at Local Open Universities, Research and Development Measures for Mobile Phone Learning Resources in Distance Education, Research and Practice on Process-Led Online Course Construction, Innovative Applications of Information Technology in Open University Resource Construction, and An Exploration of Course Learning Team Construction Models and an Operating Mechanism Based on the OUC Cloud Platform.

Expert Review: RTVU teachers are the future teachers of the information age.

Executive Deputy Director Shan Congkai of the OUC Digital Learning Resources Center: Firstly, the teachers of the future are in control of the education paradigm for the new information age. Secondly, the 12 speakers have a great deal of experience and will be the creators of a new learning culture. Compared with teachers in face-to-face education, teachers at RTVUs and open universities have a wider vision and longer reach. Thirdly, these future teachers have a long way to go before they can shift their roles, and we need to transform them from individuals into a group.

Professor Liu Qingtang from Central China Normal University: What the twelve teachers spoke of is a kind of shift in roles, that is to say, how can we place more emphasis on students learning through information technology in teaching of open universities. What abilities do students in the 21st century have? I position it as the ability to communicate, cooperate, think critically and innovate. At the same time, teachers at open universities should possess the following six abilities: technical skills, implementation of teaching in the market, teaching assessment and performance analysis, teaching quality management, occupation cognition, and development.

Peng Simao, President of Hunan RTVU: The development of information technology has spurred the transformation of teaching methods, teaching styles, teaching content, and even teaching ideas. Teachers at open universities have been making effort to find ways to introduce information technology into the teaching of open universities, and to improve teaching efficiency and quality. Therefore, training is of great importance to improve the status and function of teachers.

President Luo Jiakuan of Hubei RTVU chaired the forum. Assistants to the OUC president Liu Chen and Yang Xiaotang, leaders from related OUC departments, the deans of six academic faculties, as well as the leaders of 20 provincial and city RTVUs attended the forum. Feng Lin, Editor-in-Chief of Distance Education in China, and Li Shuwu, Director of Hubei RTVU Department of Teaching Affairs, chaired staged sessions of the forum.

The OUC, related institutions of higher education, and provincial and municipal RTVUs inside and outside Hubei have given strong support to the forum, and a total of about 120 essays have been received from teachers from all fields within the Hubei RTVU system.

Concurrent Workshop on Teaching Work 

The OUC-sponsored Workshop on Teaching Work was held in Guanggu, Wuhan on November 29. OUC Vice President Yan Bing acted as chairman. Leaders from the relevant departments of over 20 RTVUs nationwide attended the workshop.

Major issues discussed at the workshop included teaching preparation and routine teaching work for spring 2014 enrollment; “key points for the teaching reform of the Open University of China” and “several opinions from the Open University of China on the improvement of teaching quality”; and preparation for teaching reform projects such as “research on learner formation methods at the OUC”.

The “Forum for Teachers in Chinese Distance Education and OUC Workshop on Teaching Work” left a deep impression on all the attendees. Whether they are planners or teachers, they are all committed to the exploration and innovation of learner formation methods, advanced concepts, and positive actions. The Forum also heralds a new stage in the development of China’s open universities.

Forum for Teachers in Chinese Distance Education Held in Hubei

By Kou Bin from Hubei RTVU  Photographer: Xie Ping from Hubei RTVU