The design and implementation of distance education should be approached from the perspective of its practice as a course.
As such, this is an inherent part of the teaching concept employed by online tutors. The author has borrowed the commercial term “marketing” to describe this phenomenon, that is to say, teachers must understand the concept of marketing in order to communicate their teaching concept, and be willing to market their own classes.
It is necessary to study blended teaching activities in open universities. Many teachers do exceptionally well and give excellent lectures in traditional classes, but they are not used to distance teaching. The open education system is facing a transformation of its education and teaching concepts. Teaching in open universities needs to find a way to persuade potential learners to spend their leisure time studying. This is the inherent meaning of ‘marketing’. Mr. Hu Jicheng, a Chinese language teacher at the Open University of China, has long been marketing his classes on the radio and TV university BBS with good results.
Naturally, this terminology has been borrowed from the business sector. Here, it is used to indicate that, under equal conditions of teaching and learning, teaching should be led by learning, in order to produce a proactive attitude behaviour from the learners. This may be misinterpreted by some people as selling short their knowledge and the identity of the teachers. However, the value of knowledge lies in not how but whether the learners are able to obtain or master said knowledge. The value of a teacher is decided not by the role of the teacher in teaching activities but by whether he or she can help the learners through their teaching activities and win the learners’ respect. In today’s society, the special status of teachers is not granted by “the absolute authority of the teachers”; rather, it is justified by the learners’ experience.
In order to understand why the author is emphasising the ‘marketing' of distance education classes, it is necessary to review the education environment of open universities. It is well known that distance education in open universities is a kind of autonomous education. Similarly, we often say that teaching in open universities is a kind of autonomous teaching. Of course, practically speaking this is not always the case. However, it is correct to say it is a kind of autonomous education. Autonomous education means that it is up to the learners to decide whether to participate in education. There are currently several methods of adult higher degree education, and the adult students have full autonomy over the motivations behind and method of their education. Therefore, adult higher degree education is fundamentally oriented towards student needs, rather than the needs of higher educational institutions.
Why then do students who choose to go to open universities need to participate in teaching activities? Based on materials collected from radio and TV universities over the past ten years, not all adult learners are able to learn autonomously. To this end, students need good guidance in terms of education law. Why do the students need guided teaching? The environment of open education imposes no rigid requirements on students, amplifying potential laziness. The reply to this question is of great importance. We will return to the logical starting point of teaching theory. The first condition of teaching is to arouse a learners’ attention, after which point their attention needs to be maintained through constant reinforcement during the course of teaching.
The logical conclusion is that teaching in open universities needs to employ greater psychological appeal than pre-employment education or other dominant education systems with rigid requirements if it is to achieve the expected results. We may question where this pull comes from, the answer to which focuses on the learners themselves. As public learners in a real sense, where does their interest in learning come from? Many learners have no interest at all, though some learners are very attentive. However, all these learners have to choose between learning and daily life. In that sense, it is a mistake to say that the biggest conflict adult learners face is between work and study. In fact, the biggest conflict is with their leisure time. As such, they have to make choices like whether they should spend an extra hour on social media or complete their online learning tasks.
This is the main characteristic of learners in open universities. It is their constant wish that they could complete their school work while going shopping or having fun, without having to go to school, which is understandable. As educators oriented to the needs of students, we should remain conscious that we have no right to do this job if we can’t adapt to and satisfy the “created difficulties” of the learners. It is impossible to impart knowledge and educate people if we don't try to understand the seemingly "unreasonable" needs of learners.
Therefore, the ability of teachers to market their own classes is a great teaching achievement, helping the students to achieve a high level of personal development. The consequent educational influence will no doubt add to the glory of distance education teachers.
By Chen Shengbing,Xian RTVU