April 27, 2009, [MD]
This summer, I am spending four months in China, and much of the time will be taken up with my research project (for my MA) on Chinese "OpenCourseWare" (I am gradually realizing that this is not an apt English translation of their program, but I need time to come up with a better one). In addition to my specific research plan, which includes interviewing people at three different universities, and someone at the Ministry of Education, I am very interested in meeting up with people knowledgeable about this area, and doing research on it.
Coming up from Hong Kong to Beijing, I spent a few days at South China Normal University, where my advisor in Toronto had introduced me to some of his colleagues. They have a very strong group there in the department for educational technology, and a centre whose name I really love: Future Education Research Centre (in Chinese). Not only were they some of the first to develop "OpenCourseWare" in China, but they also hold several research grants to research Chinese OpenCourseWare, one that compares it to OER in other countries, and one that looks at how to promote sustainability and reuse of OER.
In addition, the centre meets every Thursday night for a seminar, and that week, I was invited to give a presentation about my own research, and some of my initial thoughts about the Chinese OCW situation. This was my first time to give a formal presentation in Chinese, which was both exciting and daunting. I was very happy about the opportunity, because it is a skill I wish to develop: One of my future dreams is to be able to teach in China - in Chinese. I know I'm not there yet, but practice makes master.
The slides for the talkare on Slideshare, you might want to watch them while listening, since it's a very visual talk - sorry they are not synchronized. Also, some of the first few minutes of the video is missing, and the image has a lot of artifacts at first, but that clears up. Thank you very much to Jia Yimin, Zhao Jianhua, Jiao Jianli for inviting me, and for all the other professors and students for engaging with me in such a great way. And thank you for capturing the talk on video, and sharing the file with me!
One of the things I say towards the end, is that I think there is an unprecedented opportunity for the educational research community in China to make a contribution both nationally, and internationally, when it comes to open education research. I have in the past called for the use of more theory when researching OER, and part of the reason why that doesn't happen, is that many who are attending open education conferences in North America are not from schools of education, or have backgrounds in relevant fields. They are doing incredibly important work, and creating great innovations, but I keep wishing that more people within the field of education would begin studying this area (which is also why I this year presented on OER at CIES, and at the OISE Dean's Conference).
However, in China there is a huge amount of research on this happening at schools of education around the country. There are entire research centers focusing on Chinese OpenCourseWare, there's a journal called Open Education (in Chinese). In addition, China has a very strong background in distance education, with it's massive TV and Radio University system. That is not to say that all the research that is currently published is excellent - but I believe the potential is there. I hope more Chinese will reach out, translate their articles into English, write English blogs... but I also hope that the international community respect and support that. Provide travel grants for Chinese researchers to go to conferences, show an interest in their research and findings, look at the massive amount of OER available in Chinese, and consider translating some of this to English and use it with their own students, etc.
StianStian Håklev April 27, 2009 Toronto, Canada comments powered by Disqus