A workshop on “Massive Open Online Courses and the Online Learning Development of the OUC (MOOCs • OUC)” was held at the OUC’s Wukesong campus on July 25, 2013. The workshop was attended by Yang Zhijian, president of the OUC, and more than 30 representatives from 15 OUC schools and departments.

Eight participants gave their opinions on issues such as “What are MOOCs?”, “What is the connection between micro-lectures, online courses and MOOCs?”, and “How can the OUC develop MOOCs?”. 

Han Yanhui (School of Foreign Languages): Make a Concerted Effort to Develop MOOCs at the OUC.

The OUC’s advantage lies in its operating system and its sizeable academic staff. From a basis of self-directed learning, learners are able to interact with each other and with their online learning materials. This calls for the transformation of the role played by tutors during the learning process. Within the learner-centered teaching process, online tutors should be guides, facilitators and instructors and help students to finish their assignments. In addition, the OUC is better equipped to help online tutors to transform into online learning facilitators than conventional universities due to its large teaching staff. The MOOCs developed by the OUC carry certain unique characteristics, for example, after making a number of modifications to cMOOCs, the OUC’s MOOCs are no longer teacher-centred. In this way, the OUC has creatively developed its own MOOCs. 

Wu Shuping (Information Technology Department): Tap into Alliances with Top Universities and Work Together to Develop MOOCs with Chinese Characteristics.

Open platforms and open courses form the development basis for MOOCs. The government should seize opportunities to develop MOOCs in China, such as promoting interactions between educational institutions to facilitate resource sharing; building a public resource sharing platform to tap into high quality courses and teaching personnel and avoid redundant resource construction; conducting in-depth system and policy research to meet the challenges posed by MOOCs; and funding the construction of a public resource sharing platform. 

The OUC should play an even bigger role in the development of MOOCs and initiate new ways to promote educational reform, such as building a public course sharing service platform; developing high quality online course resources (core courses, micro-lectures etc.); promoting educational accreditation through the credit bank; and making full use of the support alliance between universities to provide high quality course resources for traditional universities.

Chinese universities should unite to build MOOCs with Chinese characteristics, promote balanced education development, and cultivate international talent. 

Cui Yanhong (CRTVU Online Educational Technology Ltd.): Launch Pilot Projects to Explore the Development of MOOCs.

A number of radical changes have taken place in the Chinese distance education market in 2013. The emergence of large numbers of MOOC platform suppliers and course suppliers has resulted in fierce competition in the distance education market. Administrative restrictions on online distance education have been removed, meaning that the 68 pilot universities no longer enjoy favorable online distance education policies. This implies that domestic distance education should make quality, rather than quantity, the top priority. Lastly, the course construction costs continue to rise.

The OUC is dedicated to promoting education for all, which is in line with the core principle of MOOCs. In this sense, the OUC has a competitive advantage over other universities in developing MOOCs. Significant effort will be made to build a MOOCs system that features the characteristics of the OUC: pedagogy innovations are called for in course and platform development; teaching design should highlight teacher-student interaction; a qualified online course teaching team should be developed; and a group of online tutors capable of large-scale teaching activities should be cultivated.

CRTVU Online Educational Technology Ltd. has attached great importance to MOOCs since the beginning and has developed core courses (Mathematical Theories and Methods, The Principles of Computer Composition, etc.) that are similar to MOOCs in both technical content and teaching materials. In order to better develop MOOCs with the characteristics of the OUC, model courses will be used as pilot teaching materials to adjust course structure. Teaching contents and objectives will remain the same. In order to highlight learning interaction, teaching activities will be organized on a weekly basis and student performance evaluated in a variety of ways.

Du Ruo (Department of Teaching Resources Management): How can the OUC develop MOOCs?

The OUC can draw experience from the development of MOOCs in a number of valuable ways: we can absorb useful teaching materials from MOOCs to enrich our courses; we can learn from the construction of Coursera to enhance the OUC learning platform in terms of data analysis and acquisition; we can improve the existing learner support system and initiate new learning channels for online learners (for example, online tutors can help learners to solve key questions while the online learning community can provide general answers); we can create new ways to evaluate student performance (mutual evaluation, self-evaluation, etc.); and finally, we can automatically push out teaching resources that suit a student’s learning preferences and provide individual online tutoring. We are constantly striving to contribute to the development of degree education and the improvement of online teaching quality by offering accessible support to online learners.

The OUC shall constantly discover, integrate and upgrade its core competitiveness. By analyzing and integrating its various competitive advantages, the OUC will be able to develop comprehensive, module-based online learning services. The OUC should transform its existing teaching resources into modularized, flexible and accessible learning courses that suit more learning needs and are open to all members of society. It should seek cooperation with relevant institutions to reinforce teaching video design and creation, and develop high quality teaching video resources. With 30 years’ experience in organizing large-scale examinations, the OUC is able to provide examination related services for other institutions. The OUC has witnessed a surge in new education products, such as open courses, MOOCs and micro-lectures. The OUC should constantly develop its core competitiveness to foster the growth of these education products to benefit itself and other institutions.  

The OUC should initiate new ways to develop MOOCs. It could employ a blended teaching model such as five-minute lectures plus flipped classes. In addition, the OUC could use non-degree courses that are open to all members of society as pilot teaching materials to analyze the demands of online learners and explore better operating models and mechanisms. In this way, ordinary members of society can experience the OUC’s teaching services and then choose the OUC to meet their learning needs. The OUC can also provide teaching services to groups such as students of traditional universities, employed adults searching for a promotion, and industries and corporations that need to enhance their professional training.

Zhang Xia (School of Education): The Influence of MOOCs on the OUC.

MOOCs are not only a new kind of online learning course; they also represent a new organizational form and a new teaching model. The emergence and development of MOOCs prompt reflection on the OUC’s teaching models. Should the OUC continue to develop a blended teaching model that regards online core courses as a useful supplement to traditional face-to-face tutorial, or should it make the exploration of an online teaching model the focus of future development? How can the roles of individual tutors within the teaching team be clearly defined? Is it possible for the OUC to explore more than one way to define such roles? How can the OUC cultivate online teaching habits among online tutors? How can online teaching be designed in order to guarantee the quality of MOOCs?

Teaching practice is not a mechanical activity that can be replicated on a large scale. The same is true of MOOCs. The OUC’s online teaching design for MOOCs should be in accordance with the principles of “diversification, multiple-choice, and personalization”. It should avoid stereotypes and take into consideration the diverse needs of both online tutors and online learners. The OUC should encourage online tutors to be flexible in initiating new teaching design patterns; provide abundant learning materials, channels and methods of learning performance evaluation for online learners so that they can choose what is most suitable for their learning needs; and cultivate cooperation and interaction between online learners. In addition, the OUC should provide special training for online tutors to develop their online teaching design ideas, mentality and skills, for example, “How can teaching materials and activities be designed to suit different learning targets, situation and learning difficulties?”, “How can formal and informal learning be combined as part of online tutoring?” and “How can the cooperation and interaction between individual online learners be promoted?”.   

Feng Liguo (Learner Support Center): The OUC can Develop MOOCs.

The development of online core courses has laid a foundation for the OUC to foster a crop of MOOCs. Although the OUC has the ability to develop MOOCs, they must not be developed blindly. The OUC should plan the development of MOOCs strategically: it should initiate a new development model, build the OUC’s MOOC brand, foster teaching and revenue model reform, and enhance capabilities.

Cultivate the OUC brand through the development of MOOCs: Open and distance education to some extent resembles MOOCs. For instance, the online courses and television courses of the China Central Radio & TV University (CCRTVU) are open to all members of society through television and the Internet, just like MOOCs. The participation of the world’s leading universities has greatly enhanced the surge of MOOCs and given rise to education reform around the globe, which in turn demonstrates the influence of top universities on education. At the same time, the development of MOOCs can considerably help build and expand their brands. CCRTVU has a great deal of experience in distance education, thereby providing a solid foundation for the OUC to foster the development of a MOOC curriculum (teaching organization, learning support and technical support) and to shoulder more responsibility to provide lifelong education for all. Building on the basis of the CCRTVU, the OUC enjoys unique conditions and advantages under which to develop MOOCs, build its brand as a new kind of university that highlights open and distance education, and as a result reap favorable policies, educational influence, and operating revenue. 

Promote revenue and teaching model reform through the development of MOOCs: Compared to higher distance degree education, MOOCs possess a different revenue model, thereby bringing radical changes to the OUC in the areas of operating mechanism, management, and teaching organization. In addition, the development of MOOCs can, to some extent, promote the OUC’s teaching model reform, since MOOCs feature unique curriculum construction, sharing mechanisms, teaching material selection, teaching services, and credit recognition.

Enhance capabilities through the development of MOOCs: The development of MOOCs may bring about a new revenue model for the OUC. The beneficial interactions among MOOCs, degree and non-degree education, and the integration between two revenue models, requires a teaching team with acute marketing insights, along with in-depth cooperation between the relevant schools and departments of the OUC. The challenges facing the OUC will enhance its market-oriented abilities, such as operating ability, teaching ability and management ability. In addition, free online open courses inevitably create fierce competition between different educational institutions, which will require the OUC to profoundly enhance its decision-making and teaching ability, so as to develop distinctive courses and superior teaching quality.

Huang Jian (Library): The Influence of MOOCs on the OUC.

The emergence of MOOCs makes lectures taught by leading experts from top universities available to online tutors and management staff, which can help improve their knowledge structure and teaching methods. Guokr.com possesses a special section, MOOC School, to provide MOOCs for online users. On July 21, I witnessed a total of 33,967 people browsing this section. This number continues to increase by more 200 people per day, demonstrating the growing influence of MOOCs. Once ordinary websites and other educational institutions are authorized to develop MOOCs, we will face fierce competition both at home and abroad. 

Wei Shunping (Research Institute of Open and Distance Education): The Importance of learning Analysis in the Development of MOOCs.

MOOCs are a new kind of online course. The performance of online tutors and learners is recorded by the online learning platform, which makes learning analysis on the basis of online learning platform logs both possible and necessary.

Learning analysis helps online tutors to obtain teaching feedback: Although MOOCs allow synchronous teaching activities, they feature and promote asynchronous teaching activities in order to meet the learning needs of different online learners. MOOCs are not taught in a face-to-face manner, which makes it impossible for online tutors to observe the whole learning process of an individual online learner. Nevertheless, based on student performance records, online tutors can now obtain teaching feedback and henceforth reflect on teaching practice to constantly improve online teaching.

Learning analysis helps management staff to manage a number of online learners at the same time: One of the major differences between MOOCs and traditional online learning is that MOOCs highlight everything on a large scale: numerous online learners, abundant teaching resources, frequent teaching interactions, and huge amounts of learning and teaching data. In order to manage a large number of online learners and many online tutors, accurately evaluate students’ and teachers’ performance, and study, determine and plan future development, the management staff have to fully grasp the overall learning and teaching process. This requires in-depth data analysis of MOOC learning and teaching activities, which can then be used to help learners and tutors to better their learning and teaching practice in order to lower dropout rates and foster an honest learning environment.   

Learning analysis helps researchers to discover online learning patterns: What is the difference between MOOCs, xMOOCs and cMOOCs? What characteristics do MOOC learners possess? Which learning path and learning model is most suitable for MOOC learners? How can an online teacher-student interaction platform be built? Which factors contribute to high dropout rates? At which phase do online learners tend to drop out of the learning process? To what degree does student performance evaluation on the basis of data from online learning platform relate to qualification examinations? Many of these issues have yet to be answered. Researchers can analyze data from MOOCs to explore online learning patterns.

From Research Institute of Open and Distance Education, the OUC