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Open University of China/CDE collaboration success


The University of London Centre for Online and Distance Education (CODE) has successfully completed running a 12 week online course, designed with senior colleagues from the Open University of China for 250 distance education tutors.

In mid-January 2022, the University of London Centre for Online and Distance Education (CDE) completed running a 12 week online course, 'Designing for learning in online and distance education', for some 250 new and experienced tutors at the Open University of China. The course was co-designed with senior colleagues from the Open University of China (OUC), closely informed by a needs analysis survey completed by participants. 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.

Screen shot of  webinar participants

Some materials were specially written by CODE for the course; others were adapted from the University of London Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education. CODE staff ran bi-weekly webinars for course participants, and weekly webinars for lead tutors from the Open University of China. Each OU China lead tutor worked with a group of about 20 OU China tutors.

The course topics were: Contexts, and the student week; programme and module design; using what we know about students learning and theories of learning; structuring learning; designing learning activities for individual students; designing collaborative activities and assessments; tutor feedback, and midcourse review; locating resources to support learning, and student information capabilities; Technology to enhance learning; assessment; tutor roles, tutor development, and developing as a tutor; and program monitoring, evaluation and improvement. 

Each week, participants undertook remote activities focused strongly on their own reviewing, planning and teaching, supported by readings, collaborative activities, and group tutorials. 

Digital badges were awarded for the successful completion of defined parts of the course. Participants who successfully complete the course, and write a reflective commentary on what they have learned and how they will apply this to their practice, are granted accreditation of prior learning into the second and final module of the University of London PGCertHE.

Participant comments

  • Very structured and interactive, providing opportunities to learn on my own. The course is a very good exemplar of the online teaching design itself.
  • Friendly interface, rich learning materials and collaborative learning activities.
  • My biggest learning gain is learning to reflect.
  • Now I have a new understanding of why we should learn theories to guide practice.
  • I have learned to give more consideration to problems from the perspective of students. I thought I had considered enough before.
  • Through this training I have learned how to design a course in its entirety and how to apply the learning theories in course design, e.g. in designing collaborative activities.
  • The most impressive content for me is the alignment of learning goals, learning outcomes and learning activities, scaffolding theories, and tutor feedback.
  • The course content is practical, targeted and rich in cases, which inspired me greatly after learning. 
  • This short course opens a window to let light in, breaks the shell that we can eat the kernel.

"We look forward to further cooperation in 2022"

Commenting on the course, Mr. Yunzhi Shi, Deputy Director of the International Department of the OUC, said "It was the first time for us to jointly offer such a course to such a large cohort of participants. The course is well designed and very practical for the teachers’ daily teaching and tutoring, and future career development. I personally received a lot of phone calls from them, asking whether there are more such courses in the next academic year. So we look forward to further cooperation with you in 2022."