Although I had always been interested in open movements, I began to learn about Open Educational Resources first at the iCommons Summit in Dubrovnik in 2007, whose education section was very ably facilitated by Allen Gunn. Later, in fall 2007, I attended the incredible open course “Intro to Open Education”, taught by David Wiley, then at Utah State University.
Through this course, I first began reading about how MIT courses had been translated to Chinese and were used in Chinese classrooms. On the basis of this, I applied to Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), planning to research this further. I was incredibly luck to have Ruth Hayhoe as a supervisor. Her deep understanding of Chinese higher education, and her emphasis on the importance of knowledge flows going both ways, and employing a historical approach to understanding educational developments, have been very inspiring.
I also got much support from the thesis group that Ruth organized, and want to thank all the participants of that group for helping me through the ethics review process, and supporting me along. Kirk Perris, in particular, shared much of his research on open universities in China and India, and helped me think through my research questions.
At OISE, I was also lucky to be part of a very vibrant and supportive community of internationally-minded scholars. The Comparative, International and Development Education community became my home for two years, and through some of the early classes with Karen Mundy, Vandra Masemann and Sarfaroz Niyazov, I developed the analytical framework for my thesis. My second reader, Jim Slotta, has been incredibly generous with his time and ideas. Conversations with him have been crucial in helping me develop my understanding of Open Educational Resources, and he also included me in his research group, and invited me to participate in the Knowledge, Media and Design Institute community.
The Open Educational Resources movement has been incredibly welcoming, and I have learnt a lot from participating in conferences, and through private conversations. John Dehlin, Steven Carson, Terri Bays and Meena Hwang from the OpenCourseWare Consortium have been very supportive of this research. Gary Matkin at University of California at Irvine gave me many initial ideas, and helped me apply for funding through the Hewlett Foundation.
Thank you to the Hewlett Foundation for financially supporting this research, and also to Cathy Casserly and Victor Vucich for the interest and support you have shown!
Mike Caulfield at Keene State College inspired me to develop my four categories of Open Educational Resources. Alexandra Kuvaeva helped me research course design in Russian higher education, using resources that I did not have access to. Chen Bodong (陈伯栋) and Zhao Naxin (赵纳新), both at OISE, were very helpful in connecting me with scholars in China.
I spent about 7 months in total in China, visiting many universities and individuals to discuss my research project. First, I must sincerely thank all the individuals who I interviewed formally for my thesis, I cannot mention their names, but they were all very supportive, and made an important contribution to my research!
I also made many informal visits. At South China Normal University, Jiao Jianli (焦建立), Zhao Jianhua (赵建华), Jia Yimin (贾义敏) and colleagues and graduate students were wonderful hosts during my several visits, and also invited me to participate in the National Educational Technology Research Summer School.
Yan Fengqiao (阎凤桥) was very helpful in facilitating my visit to the Department of Education at Peking University, where I also had inspiring conversations with Wang Aihua (王爱华), and other colleagues and graduate students. I very much enjoyed my interactions with the SocialLearnLab network (教育大发现), facilitated by Zhuang Xiuli (庄秀丽) at Beijing Normal University. Liu Meifeng (刘美凤) at the same university was also a great help in my research.
I had very useful discussions with Wang Long (王龙) from the Chinese People’s Public Security University, Han Xibin (韩锡斌) from Tsinghua University, Ren Weimin (任为民) from Open Education (奥鹏教育), Fun-Den Wang (王逢旦), chair of China Open Resources for Education, Xi Jianhua (希建华), editor of the Chinese Open Education journal, Yang Rui (杨锐) at Hong Kong University, and Duan Chenggui (段承贵) at HKU Space. Ju Feng (居烽) from the Top Level Courses Project Resource Center shared his understanding of the project, and the exciting work that his center is doing.
Carsten Ullrich invited me to Shanghai Jiaotong University to give a talk, where I also met Yu Jianbo (余建波), who told me about the local situation. Lee Haishuo (李海硕) from Taiwan OpenCourseWare Consortium shared his research on Asian OpenCourseWare.
The amount of articles written about the Top Level Courses Project in Chinese is quite overwhelming, and I was very fortunate to find Wang Wenjun (王文君) at Northwest Normal University, who helped me locate articles that were relevant to my research. Janar (贾娜尔) at Beijing Normal University was very helpful in transcribing the Chinese interviews I had recorded.
During my time in Beijing, Chang Yongcai (常永才) from Central Minzu University was a wonderful host, and I greatly enjoyed interacting with him and his students. Finally, Rahat (热哈体) was an incredible help and support in all my work in China, and I cannot thank him enough… راحمەت! He also introduced me to the Open University of China, where I was warmly received, and had very interesting discussions with a number of staff.