October 29, 2010, [MD]
When discussing the effects of the Top Level Courses Project with academic affairs officers and members of the evaluation committee, many of their answers reflected the experiences of individual teachers. There was agreement that it had raised the quality of courses, and the awareness of pedagogy and standards. Mr. B0 said that all academic staff who teach now know the national standards for each course, and that this standardized pedagogy has improved the quality of teaching. This goes together with the generally increased focus on quality in teaching, which especially Professor C0, member of the national evaluation committee, emphasized.
However, standardization does not mean a lack of innovation. Indeed according to Mr. B0, teachers that earlier taught in a very traditional fashion, with very little discussion in class, had through the process of applying to the provincial Top Level Courses Project changed their pedagogical ideas, and the design of the class.
Much of this has happened through an increased emphasis on reflection and discussion. As Mr. B0 said, earlier, teachers would all go to their own classrooms, and would never listen to other people’s classes. Now, not only do the course teams enable sharing and reflection around the course material within a small group, but having all the materials published online also enables a larger group to get involved, including the academic affairs office and the peer-review committee.
Due to the process of applying for Top Level Courses, professors have also become more tech savvy, and are using more educational technology in all their courses. Lectures are recorded, so students who did not catch everything, can watch them again after class. Courses have blogs, where teachers can leave homework, and students can communicate with teachers outside of class.
The issue of legacy was also raised, the idea that when old and famous professors pass away, the only thing left is their notes. By recording their lectures and their course material, the Top Level Courses Project means that people can “attend their lectures” even in the future.
The quotes in this text is from the MA Thesis "The Chinese National Top Level Courses Project: Using Open Educational Resources to Promote Quality in Undergraduate Teaching" by Stian Håklev, University of Toronto 2010.