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12th IACEE World Conference on Continuing Engineering Education (WCCEE 2010) Singapore, 2010
Research on Methods and Means of Continuing Engineering Education in China
Shuilong TAOa,b, Tingting YANGc, Hongxing SHIa, Yanhua HOUd, Ying WANGc
a Faculty of Engineering, The Open University of China
b School of Management, Wuhan University of Technology, P.R. China
c Institute of Open and Distance Education, The Open University of China
d Faculty of Engineering, Beijing Open University, P.R. China
This paper analyses the advantages and disadvantages of Continuing Engineering Education
(CEE) methods and means. It discusses factors affecting CEE and the relationship among those factors. Finally, the authors propose a CEE teaching model. The methods and means of CEE in China are developing in diverse directions, and the role of teaching supported by information technology is becoming increasingly important in CEE in China.
Keywords: continuing engineering education, teaching methods, teaching means, research
Currently, more and more experts of continuing engineering education and scholars of universities, corporations, and governments are doing extensive research on the important subject of how to improve the quality of CEE in China. Particularly, they are continually exploring new methods and means of CEE in China so as to better adapt to the engineering and project management needs of continuing education, and thus promote the rapid development of China's CEE and information technology.
Status Survey of Teaching Methods, Technical Means of CEE in China
This study investigated the teaching methods and technical means of CEE in five types of educational and training institutions, and the basic results are as follows:
- Corporate continuing education. Enterprises are gradually becoming more learning-oriented, and continuing education is generally carried out in a variety of departments. Organizational formats include the one-to-one "mentoring system", the "project and tutor" group style, the post-doctoral research center and collective teaching. Teaching methods commonly include lectures, seminars and issue inquiry. Teaching resources may be borrowed, introduced or developed in parallel.
- Engineering industry association continuing education. Teaching is generally in the form of lecture and exchange, and training methods include face-to-face teaching and e-learning. High-level skills are taught in field trainings in the enterprise. In addition, the training resources of industry associations are largely self-built materials, face-to-face information, and industry continuing education online platforms. In 2000, the personnel information center of the State Human Resource Ministry and Tsinghua Tongfang jointly established a national professional training network. They developed "a modern remote network teaching and management platform for national training" which is modular, interactive and comprehensive. This provided a powerful management tool for education organizers and a self-learning platform for learners.
- Society training institution continuing education. Continuing education at society training institutions generally seeks to generate profit, and thus has a regular business-oriented organizational structure. Teaching resources may include order-based teaching materials, syllabi, teacher books, CDs and case study materials, as well as customized training information for businesses. The teaching methods and means commonly used include face-to-face teaching, practical exercise training, online learning, CD-ROM publishing distribution, etc.
- University continuing education. In adult education, universities have correspondence courses, night classes, online education, self-study and other kinds of undergraduate, specialized education. The teaching formats include face-to-face teaching in night classes, correspondence courses which are mainly face-to-face teaching supplemented by digital teaching, and online education which is mainly digital teaching supplemented by face-to-face teaching. Online education in engineering colleges has never given up face-to-face teaching. Because of the characteristics of engineering knowledge, fully online education has some difficulties. At the same time, students have a need for face-to-face teaching. In adult non-academic education, the teaching format is short term face-to-face teaching, and the teaching methods most often used are systematic teaching, seminar-style teaching and case teaching.
- Adult continuing education. The Open University of China (OUC) is one of the larger schools in continuing education. With its excellent teachers and teaching resources, it collaborates with 16 general colleges in developing undergraduate education, and works with seven national ministries and industry associations in running schools, developing specialty courses according to industry needs and characteristics, and delivering practical personnel training. The OUC uses the information technology of satellite television networks, computer networks, and a teaching management network to construct a variety of multimedia teaching resources. It provides written materials, video materials, audio materials, online learning resources, PPT lectures and other learning materials, thus enabling students all around the country to share these high-quality resources.
Study of Factors Influencing Teaching Methods and Means of CEE in China
- Learners. Whether or not the learner succeeds is closely related to personal interest in learning, motivation, study habits, study methods, learning confidence, psychological condition and capacity. Survey data showed that some learners pursue education and training to improve skills and meet the development needs of their enterprise, that is, for professional development needs. Another reason for studying is to increase income and personal interest. Therefore, the learner may be driven by work needs and personal needs.
- Employers. Human resources development and the rational use of different educational policies and means is the organizational guarantee of continuing education . The results of staff training evaluation surveys in different types of enterprises reflect some problems. Training conflicts with the work time schedule and the content does not meet the needs of the enterprise. There are large differences in terms of cost among different enterprises. Employers need to pay attention to and solve problems arising in training in order to effectively use and develop human resources.
- Teachers. Teachers of CEE come from a variety of professions: full-time teachers in training institutions, university teachers and external industry experts. Full-time teachers are required to be versatile. They not only need to master teaching and research, but also need knowledge and capabilities of project development, resource development and teaching management. Teachers need to sharpen their skills regularly in enterprises, participate in R & D projects, and master the frontier of new technologies.
- Teaching resources. Due to the characteristics of adult learning, adult learning is the most effective in an informal environment. Thus it differs from the requirements of university learning resources such as handouts, teaching materials, courseware and network platform of CEE. Practical and convenient teaching design is the core element which influences continuing education methods and means.
- Internal and external environment. The internal and external environment is an important element of continuing education that supports lifelong learning; it ensures the smooth development of continuing education methods and means. The internal environment needs to establish training institutions, training systems for lifelong learning and career, and ensure time, funding and training personnel. The external environment needs the protection of national legislation and policies, multi-sector cooperation mechanisms, guarantee certificates and mutual recognition.