The future of Chinese Top Level Courses

November 29, 2010, [MD]

Nobody knows what the future holds for the Top Level Courses Project, which is scheduled to expire in 2010. It is probable that it will be renewed, but this could be done either with large-scale changes in organization, or relatively minor tweaks to assessment systems (Young 2010). Professor B3 believes that there will be more focus on producing material that can be used directly by students, and more focus on resource portals that organize this material. Another important step is to check all the courses that have already been produced – this was supposed to happen after a five-year period, but even though the first courses were produced seven years ago, it has not yet happened (Ju Feng, personal communications). As mentioned in the section on critiques, there are statistics showing that many courses are no longer available, or have not been updated.

According to Ju Feng, vice-director of the Top Level Courses Project Resource Center (精品课程资源中心) which produces, the Ministry of Education is planning for a shift in the role and function of the Open University of China. When it was initially built, it was intended as a stop-gap solution for students that could not be admitted to regular universities because of capacity problems. Given the rapid expansion of the regular system, almost all students who now go through the university entrance exam (gaokao, 高考) are assured a spot at a university, even though it might not be the university they wanted.

Therefore, the focus of the Open University of China will shift from undergraduate degree programs to life-long learning and continuing education. The 2010-2020 ten year master plan for educational development in China released by the Ministry of Education calls for 350 million people involved in life-long and continuing learning by 2020 (Håklev 2010). Although we have seen little evidence of Top Level Courses being used for that purpose today, it could be one possible future direction.

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.

Stian Håklev November 29, 2010 Toronto, Canada
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