Enhancing the quality of open and distance learning in China through the identification and development of learning design skills and competencies

Olney, Tom; Li, Chenxi and Luo, Juan (2021). Enhancing the quality of open and distance learning in China through the identification and development of learning design skills and competencies. Asian Association of Open Universities Journal, 16(1) pp. 61–78.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1108/AAOUJ-11-2020-0097

URL: https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.110...

Abstract

Purpose
The purpose of this paper is to identify staff skills and competencies on which Chinese open universities should focus their professional development activities in order to enhance the quality of open and distance learning (ODL) in China.

Design/methodology/approach
Data were collected from surveys of 220 academic and academic-related Chinese staff, each of whom participated in one of seven 3-day Learning Design and Course Creation (LDCC) workshops at three large regional open universities in China between 2017 and 2019. The workshops were based on the UK Open University (UKOU) approach to learning design (LD) and course creation. Using content analysis methodology, textual responses were analysed and compared against the Instructional Design Competencies framework provided by the International Board of Standards for Training, Performance and Instruction (IBSTPI).

Findings
(1) Designing instructional interventions, (2) keeping up to date with design theories, (3) communicating in order to manage stakeholders, teams and projects were the main competencies identified from the participants responses. However, these three identified competencies differed in emphasis between the institutions that took part.

Originality/value
In Western higher education institutions (HEIs), LD has developed as an important approach to improving quality. A need has been identified for robust approaches to quality and professional development opportunities to enhance teaching and learning standards in open and distance learning (ODL) in China. This paper identifies and discusses specific LD skills and competencies that could be targeted to improve the quality of ODL in China.

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