Exploration into Teaching a Distance Art Programme -
 A Case Study on the Traditional Chinese Landscape Painting Programme

Tang Yingshan, Han Yi, Xie Jun, Huang Yan, Wang Zhengdong, Yang Yao, Xiao Tingting, Yu Shaoping, Cui Ming

Abstract: Through the China National Arts Fund’s online project, a traditional Chinese landscape painting programme, 1,286 absolute beginners across the nation are taught landscape painting. The project makes an in-depth exploration into learning environment construction, course design, online learner support, and teaching process management with regards to the particular demands of online painting instruction. Attention is given to integrating teacher strengths from different regions to form a collaborative teaching team with a clear division of labour. This online teaching support helps students make clear progress even during a short period of learning, while maintaining their satisfaction with the course. The successful implementation of the project proves the key role of learner support played by online tutors in ensuring the quality of online teaching, and the important guarantee of process management in realising online teaching objectives. It is an important way for open universities to improve teaching quality by integrating the advantages of teachers inside and outside the system, and thus enhance the development of teaching teams. The system of open universities all over the country is blessed with inherent advantages for non-degree educational programmes. However, it is necessary to study further how to meet the needs of society by fully leveraging fully online teaching.

Key Words: landscape painting, online teaching, learning environment, course design, learner support, teaching team, teaching process management, non-degree programme

I. Introduction

Along with socio-economic development and greater consumerism, there is a growing social demand to convey love through self-cultivation of arts. The improvement of society’s aesthetic taste and artistic accomplishment cannot occur without art education. However, the development of popular art education is hindered by multiple factors, such as cost, teachers, and venues. Extending the scope of popular art education and improving educational results through innovation has become a crucial problem to address. With the State Council’s approval, the China National Arts Fund (CNAF) was established in December 2013. CNAF offers funding to support art development mainly in four aspects, including creative production, publicity promotion, collection, and learner development.

Online education provides brand new solutions for scaling the training of arts professionals. In December 2016, the Open University of China (OUC) submitted an application for its Appreciation and Creation of Traditional Chinese Landscape Painting and Moodle Platform Project (hereinafter referred as landscape painting project). Reviewed by CNAF, the landscape painting project was approved as a 2017 funded project for the purpose of art communication, exchange, and promotion. The project is one attempt to explore effective solutions to outstanding problems in popular art education: by leveraging educational technologies such as the Moodle platform and mobile app, numerous learners are taught traditional landscape painting by a network of professionals.

There exist many problems to solve in online art education. The first is public benefit, extending art instruction to a geographically scattered student base. A teaching network can be utilised to meet the learning needs of a large number of students. The second is related to efficiency: targeted teaching design can enable adult students who learn in their spare time to achieve clear progress. The third issue involves overcoming difficulties in the practice of diverse online teaching interactions, and coming to an understanding and mastery of painting techniques through teachers’ online instruction and students’ hands-on practice.

From May to July 2018, a Moodle-based online course on traditional Chinese landscape painting enrolled 1,286 students nationwide. During the nine week course, the teachers and students left more than 444,800 access records on the learning platform and nearly 52,000 discussion records in the BBS and WeChat group, achieving an overall completion rate of 59.6% of the learning tasks. In the phased questionnaire survey, the number of students who indicated they were “satisfied” and “extraordinarily satisfied” with the course combined to exceed 85%.