As the primary mechanisms used in distance education are shifting from traditional radio and TV to the Internet; the Internet age is imposing new, higher requirements on the Open University of China (OUC). Therefore, we must be well prepared to deal with the situation.
I. Openness of “Teaching”--MOOCs
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) experienced an explosion in popularity in 2012, and were considered to be "the next innovation in online learning". MOOCs aim to offer massive, open, and online learning, and therefore, require a mechanism of quality resources to be built from the ground up. The popularity of MOOCs is closely related to the implementation of cloud computing, big data, and other technologies. With cloud computing, it is possible for massive audiences to watch the same online resources at one time, thus reducing distribution costs. Whereas big data is employed to more accurately control overall web traffic and grasp the students' learning situations.
The traditional "teaching" model follows a resource supply pattern, with teaching contents determined by popular education categories. The students play passive roles and have no choice in subjects. Once they choose their major, they have to gain enough credits by completing the courses according to the set curriculum. The teachers play both passive and active roles in traditional teaching. That means, they have certain autonomy in their teaching arrangements but still have to follow the subject setting requirement of the schools. Teachers and students can't choose each other. If students find themselves unable to adapt to the teaching style of a certain teacher, they can do nothing but try to endure or even escape from their classes.
MOOCs are a type of course resource library that caters to students’ demands. For MOOCs, the students are like consumers in a course supermarket. They can select from "MOOC goods" that they want to put into their shopping cart, and can even experience and identify different "brands" within the same category of goods, wherein the host teachers are like suppliers of "MOOC goods", and the tutors are like sellers of "MOOC goods". By analyzing the psychology and behavior of consumers, the tutors provide personalized guidance and assistance.
II. Openness of “Learning”- Crowd-sourcing UGC
User Generated Content (UGC) is what its name implies. Content is generated by users. Then, through the decentralized market self-screening mechanism, outstanding course contents are gradually generated, and in return, these valuable contents are given back to users. In this way, users will have the right to independently generate and release contents. Thus, they are no longer just willing to be passive audiences. They will consciously generate online contents for a particular purpose (to show off a particular skill, showcase personal hobbies, spontaneously gather valuable information in the form of pictures, text, video and other forms).
Students crowd-sourcing UGC is the product of fragmented time combined with mainstream education. The students use their fragmented time to upload fragmented learning contents, record contents through mobile terminals (mobile phone, iPad, etc.), and then put them together to generate study notes. They can record the contents of a lecture, comments on a video, inspiration taken from an advertisement or even a talk, at any time, in any place. Valuable information is reproduced and commented on by other students countless times, all while being shared and exchanged. At the 25th ICDE conference, professors at a university in Switzerland showed successful cases of using blogs in teaching, demonstrating that through blog teaching, learners' self-learning ability had increased significantly; and learners have also found it more harmonious to communicate with teachers and other students.
III. Openness of Teaching Management-Credit Bank
Generally speaking, the credit bank refers to an information system of credit accumulation and transfer. The bank’s credit operation functions include a credit saving mechanism, credit loaning mechanism, and credit transfer mechanism. The credit saving mechanism indicates that the students have to accumulate their credits for each course. When their credits reach the level required for the academic degree or training, they will be issued with the corresponding certificate of diploma or completion certificate. The credit loaning mechanism indicates that a credit relationship is established, with the schools as lenders, the students as borrowers, the parents and teachers as guarantors. The credit transfer mechanism indicates that the credits gained by the students can be converted into that of corresponding courses of other schools. Specifically speaking, the credit bank functions through credit accumulation and credit transfer.
Teaching management in the Internet age shall refer to the mode of establishing a credit bank system and breaking the regional pattern of administrative management. The teaching management personnel shall provide point-to-point service. At each point, when students transfer channels, their credits will be rapidly swapped and the teaching management personnel will help these students turn to other learning channels. During every stage of the learning process, the teaching management personnel will track the situation of each student in the self-test, self-learning, and UCG deposition, then make equivalent credits statistics. In this way, their learning activity can be monitored in a timely manner to avoid an interruption of their learning or dropout.
IV. Openness of Teaching Model-Flipped Classroom
Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams put forward the teaching model theory of "flipped classroom". Its core concept is to encourage active learning, active participation, blended course design and video classroom, etc. It is expected to integrate new technological tools to provide convenience for self-learning at any time, and then in the formal classroom, the teaching model of flipped classroom emphasizes the mutual interaction of teachers and students, providing guidance and solutions to the problems of students in their self-directed learning process.
The Internet age has imposed new requirements for the flipped classroom. As distance learners have neither fixed classrooms nor physical study rooms, are widely distributed geographically, and their learning time is fragmented, we must design teaching activities that suit distance learners before the kickoff of distance learning. In the process of global teaching practice, we found that most teachers will adopt the teaching methods of "micro-course watching", "imitation practice", "group discussion", and "summary & improvement" to realize the teaching goal of understanding-imitation-finding-sorting-out the teaching contents. Students communicate with each other to resolve any problems they meet, and teachers will get involved in the last three procedures; If there are any problems that the students cannot resolve, the teachers will provide guidance and give further explanations.
V. Openness of Teaching Evaluation-System Recommendation
The openness of teaching evaluation lies in its breakthrough against the traditional evaluation method of using a single exam paper to measure results. Teaching evaluation is no longer a form, but a pattern, it is a system that combines examination and recommendation.
In the learning effect evaluation phase, we use Moodle platform to create personalized tests for students based on a regular assessment of the students. That is, we select test resources from the teaching contents that they repeatedly watch and those tests points where they repeatedly make errors and formulate these as objective questions in the test; subjective questions are formed according to UGC deposition and BBS discussion contents. Finally, the personalized test score and the tracking data of regular online courses are converted into credits for course evaluation.
In the recommendation system part, when their credit accumulation reaches a certain value, they must be matched with a higher level learning channel to ensure their lifelong learning. The recommendation system includes three parts: online course learning with the goal of obtaining a certificate (if their credits meet the requirement, they can obtain the corresponding qualification certificates); online course learning with professional education as the goal (if their credits meet the requirement, they can be recommended for an interview in universities or colleges to pursue a higher academic level); and online course learning with skills training as the goal (if their credits meet the requirement, they can be recommended to some corresponding enterprises as an intern or for other employment opportunities).
By Zhao Jing, OUC