On April 1, 2012, the third "Forum for Teachers in Chinese Distance Education" was held in Beijing under the theme of "Practical Teaching in Distance Education: Exploration and Reflection". Based on innovative exploration and reflection by teachers at radio and TV universities (RTVUs) around the country, the forum aimed to further discuss rules, common problems and solutions related to distance teaching at the Open University of China (OUC).


Forum attendees included Yan Bing, vice president of the OUC and chief editor of Distance Education in China; Ren Weimin, OUC professor and head of the Open Education Research Institute; Guo Wenge, online teaching consultant with the Ministry of Education and professor at the Peking University Graduate School of Education; heads of related OUC departments and the entire teaching staff from the OUC Faculty of Economics and Management. The forum was broadcast live to the public and all RTVUs via the channels of CHINA.COM.CN, SINA Microblog and the OUC two-way video conferencing system.

Twelve teachers gave speeches at the forum, spanning topics such as theories of teaching in distance education, resource construction and implementation for the open education accounting programme, how to meet the diversified needs of learners in open and distance education, creation of situational teaching context in modern open and distance education, and utilization of societal resources to conduct open and distance teaching. The speakers were from the OUC, Beijing Open University, Shanghai Open University, Guangdong RTVU, Yiyang RTVU in Hunan province, Qingdao RTVU, Gansu RTVU, and Nanjing RTVU.

Guo Wenge pointed out in her comments after the speeches that practical teaching played an indispensable role in the RTVU system's reform of professional development methods. The OUC must utilize the existing operational strengths of the RTVU system and reinforce research on practical teaching methods and developing applied talent. She also said that the advance of IT gave "practical" a new meaning. Many industries rely on IT to perform practical work, and this poses a new requirement to practical teaching. It also provides opportunities for the OUC to conduct practical teaching using enterprise IT systems and strengthen cooperation with other universities and enterprises.

Ren Weimin spoke highly of the forum. Furthermore, he said that students, teachers, learning environment and teaching reform were the four elements affecting the practical teaching process. The teaching team should be fortified with the help of the RTVU system and associations with other conventional universities and industries; students should be stimulated to become more proactive and enthusiastic; situational teaching context should be created based on the learners' actual situations and demands; curriculum, content and teaching method reform should be accelerated. Ren also called for utilizing IT to construct a cloud environment for practical teaching so as to improve the features and quality of the teaching.

Yan Bing, in conclusion, said that the National Outline for Medium and Long-term Education Reform and Development and the Construction Programme of the Open University of China made new and higher demands of practical teaching. The teaching offered by RTVUs should promote the construction of a modern vocational education system demonstrating a lifelong education philosophy, keep pace with changing educational demands, and cater to individual needs for lifelong learning and society's needs for economic and social development.

He further pointed out that the RTVU system had conducted a great deal of research in practical teaching and made significant progress, but that some problems were still unresolved. In the future, efforts would be focused on the following five aspects: innovation in continuing education and distance professional development methods, basic teaching construction for the OUC as a new kind of university, the close integration of modern IT and open and distance education, creative exploration of the operational mechanism of the future OUC, the dynamic role of teachers and students in the practical teaching system.

This year's "Forum for Teachers in Chinese Distance Education" was organized by the publishers of the journal Distance Education in China in conjunction with the OUC Faculty of Economics and Management. The forum has been held three times by the journal since the first meeting in Shenzhen on November 22, 2010. This academic forum series centers on teachers and gives them a platform to express their views and exchange ideas. The forum seeks to vocalize teachers' opinions and reflect their dilemmas and problem-solving approaches. It also encourages teachers to participate in distance education research, and promotes case study research, action research and micro-empirical research.

(By Jin Hongyu, the OUC)