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Developing distance education in China


The Open University China (OUC) has commissioned the University of London Centre for Online and Distance Education (CODE) [] to help develop their approaches to online education.  With over 4.8 million students, OUC is the largest single provider of higher education in China, employing a blend of face-to-face sessions and online/distance learning.  

‘Designing for learning in online and distance education’ is a bespoke short course, designed and delivered by CODE Fellows. It launched on 13 September for 250 OUC staff and is being delivered and supported entirely online, in partnership with local tutors in China. 

Specifically designed for those teaching in OUC, the 12 week long staff development course is designed to develop expertise and practice of distance teaching pedagogy, online learning design, learning, assessment, and programme development.

Participants are learning through reflection on their own experience, peer and tutor feedback and through engagement with the role of theory in their practice. They are involved in the following types of learning activities: 

  • Critically reflecting on their own teaching practice and their students’ learning 
  • Implementing and interpreting pedagogic ideas in their own subject discipline 
  • Engaging in discussion with peers within the process of inquiry 
  • Evaluating teaching practices and attainment in relation to goals 
  • Interpreting and interrogating teaching and learning practices through the lens of theory. 
  • Identifying their own development needs 
Professor Li Song, Vice President of the Open University China and colleagues at a conference table

This professional development course builds on a successful collaboration that began in 2019 when two visiting scholars from OUC attended CDE co-sponsored by the Sino-British Fellowship Trust, based in London, and the China Scholarship Council.

Their aim was to research open and distance learning practice at the UoL and to share experiences of running large scale open and distance education programmes in China and around the world. 

CDE was chosen because of its expertise in distance education and the reputation of UoL as a leading provider in this field. UoL was the first university to undertake distance education anywhere in the world and there are currently 50,000 students across 190 countries studying at a distance for a UoL degree.