In this proposal, I began by discussing whether the spread of the OCW concept could be a sign of growing isomorphism in values among institutions of higher education in the world, and I proposed the counter-theory that what was happening was borrowing the name of ideas, but implementing it quite differently. I proceeded to review some of the extensive Chinese literature on the two OCW projects in China, the project to translate and use MIT OCW through CORE, and the project to create and disseminate Chinese OCW through the Ministry of Education.
The reasons given for adopting MIT OCW materials are similar to those stated in for example Japan, but are not necessarily the same as the motivation for MIT and other North American institutions to produce OCW. More research also needs to be conducted on how widespread the use and adoption of MIT OCW materials is in China, given that Dalian Institute of Technology is in a particularly favorable position, and could not be said to represent the average institution of higher education in China.
When we turn our attention to the indigenous program of TLCP, we find some surprises. Despite the massification of higher education in China, there is still a large amount of people who are unable to access higher education for various reasons, and one could immediately assume that access to education would be one of the driving forces of the TLCP program, but throughout the entire literature there is not a single mention of expanding access to higher education - one of the main motivations behind MIT OCW and many OER projects. In addition, although the MIT OCW project was to a certain degree inspired by the free software movement with its ethos of “information wants to be free”, we find no such normative discussion of sharing and reuse in the Chinese literature, and indeed the project itself does not use an open license.
Instead, the project fits in under a large-scale program to increase the quality of teaching in undergraduate education. It can be seen as an extension of the several large-scale centrally initiated projects, like the 211 and 985 projects, during the last decade to improve the quality of teaching and research in Chinese universities, and make them “world-class”. In addition, building on a history of evaluating and monitoring the quality of teaching, it could be seen as a further element of the introduction of systems of accountability and New Public Management into the governance of Chinese universities. Thus, although there are some elements of the usage that overlaps with the pragmatic reasons given by OCW, such as helping high school students choose the right university and major, we find that the main thrust of the program has been significantly changed and adapted, and indeed this seems like a case of “false borrowing”.
China is using TLCP to achieve something that was never intended by the people who started the movement, but without understanding the motivations for introducing it to China, we will not be able to answer whether the government is using Schriewer’s “reference to internationality” to legitimize a project they wanted anyway, or whether they genuinely wanted to introduce an OCW-like program, but it became inextricably modified by the different in national context. Indeed, we would like to know why they come to the conclusion that, as Zhu, Liu and Yuan (2005) says: “opening of educational material is a path to deepen the reform of teaching”?