The OU’s first Sino-UK Symposium on Technology and Language Teaching in Beijing, held on 27 – 28th August 2017, attracted over 27,000 participants.
Led by OU academics, Dr Ursula Stickler and Dr Qian Kan from the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education & Language Studies, the workshop, a joint collaboration with Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU) and ChinaCALL, focused on how teachers can integrate suitable technology into their language teaching.
Dr Stickler and Dr Kan demonstrated how the OU as the European leader for massive innovations in learning technologies and learning analytics can support new and effective language learning activities online thereby bringing learning resources to millions of people worldwide.
BFSU is a prestigious university in China, known for having 67 different languages on offer, and recognised as an important training ground for future diplomats.
Over 120 English teachers at all levels from different parts of China attended the workshop face-to-face. Due to the large size of the workshop, the OU academics, supported by Dr Mair Lloyd, conducted prior online training of 12 local facilitators, who are teachers at BFSU. These facilitators then helped with small group discussions and hands-on activities during the two-day workshop. This cascading approach meant that the workshop could reach its maximum effectiveness and capacity.
“The key to our success is the pedagogy we use, which means that we have an understanding of how people learn and how we can enable teachers to facilitate this learning,” said Dr Stickler. “Our highly participatory approach was very new for everyone, even for those who already teach at university level.”
Dr Kan added: “Another feature of this workshop is the combination of online preparatory work prior to the workshop together with face-to-face mini-lectures and hands-on sessions. We prepared pre-workshop tasks for all the participants. Because of this, every participant was able to fully engage and benefit from the two-day workshop.”
More than 27,000 people followed the event through a live stream, and about 5,000 have subsequently viewed recorded webcasts. 10 news agencies, including the People’s Daily, with its circulation of three million, Xinhuanet and Beijing TV reported the event. Both Dr Stickler and Dr Kan were interviewed for TV broadcasts. The Beijing TV news video has already been viewed over 582,000 times.
The symposium is one of a series of workshops that the OU has delivered across the world as part of a team led by the European Centre for Modern Languages of the Council of Europe. Workshops have been hosted in 20 countries in Europe and in the US, Canada, and the Caribbean.
View the broadcast on Beijing TV.
Read the edited volume by Dr Stickler and OU Professor Regine Hampel on online teacher training.