OER in China

This paper published in July 2020 discussed the application of open educational practices and resources during the COVID-19 outbreak.


With the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in China, the Chinese government decided to ban any type of face-to-face teaching, disrupting classes and resulting in over 270 million students being unable to return to their universities/schools. Therefore, the Ministry of Education (MoE) launched an initiative titled ‘Ensuring learning undisrupted when classes are disrupted’ by reforming the entire educational system and including an online education component. However, this quick reform in this unexpected critical situation of widespread COVID-19 cases harbours several challenges, such as the lack of time and teacher/student isolation. This paper discusses the possibility of using open educational resources (OER) and open educational practices (OEP) as an effective educational solution to overcome these challenges. Particularly, this study presents a generic OEP framework built on existing open-practice definitions. It then presents, based on this framework and based on the challenges reported by several Chinese education specialists during two national online seminars, a set of guidelines for the effective use of OER and OEP for both teaching and learning. Finally, this study presents some recommendations for the better adoption of OER and OEP in the future. The findings of this study can help researchers and educators apply OER and OEP for better learning experiences and outcomes during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Some interesting takeaways

  • OER is not a completely new topic in China (since 2003)
  • Today, open teaching resources in China can be grouped into three categories, where some of them are not in compliance with all OER conditions as specified in the UNESCO OER definition (Tlili, Huang, Chang, Nascimbeni, & Burgos, 2019), namely: resources which are made publicly available by Chinese universities and libraries for free but without any open licences; resources which are under open licences or protected by Chinese copyright laws that allow their free use and/or reuse; and resources which are not under open licences and do not reside in the public domain yet are made available for free public use by government policies.
  • Open education practices (OEP) framework consists of 5 key aspects: OER, enabling technology, open teaching, open collaboration, and open assessment.
  • Guidelines for teachers:
    • Copyright: teachers should pay attention to the attributed open licence of each OER to ensure its legal use in their context.
    • Selecting high-quality OER based on licensing, accuracy/quality of the content, interactivity, ease of adaptability, and cultural relevance and sensitivity.
    • Teachers with limited technical skills could utilize national and international authoring tools, such as 101 ppt software and ALESCO Hub, Connexions repository authoring tool or Open Author.
    • During the teaching process, teachers should apply open teaching to engage learners and encourage them to participate in the co-creation of knowledge (Nascimbeni and Burgos 2016). Here, possible assignments could be updating a blog on the Baidu encyclopaedia or co-writing an open textbook using public Tencent documents.
    • Teachers should prioritize using familiar tools and avoid overloading learners by asking them to use too many tools.
    • To ensure interactive and open learning communities, teachers should use social networks during the learning process, such as Wechat, QQ, and Sina Weibo (Facebook or Twitter, for international readers).
    • Avoid ‘disposable assignments’: open learning materials delivered by learners (e.g. reports, presentations, videos), under the supervision of teachers, can be collected as open textbooks and uploaded online so that other students and teachers (future generations) can benefit from them.

What are your thoughts on this paper? Did it provide you with new insights? Do the observations align with your own perception of OER in China?