A study on the module of online open resources for Chinese distance teaching.
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Distance learning is considered a promising medium for providing Chinese courses via the internet (Chen, 2009; Hsieh et al., 2010). Both teachers and students can benefit from its instantaneity and interactivity as well as from its capacity to introduce external resources, to supply extension courses, and to apply diverse multimedia (Glisan et al., 1998; Motamedi, 2001). As regards Chinese distance learning, researchers have discussed issues such as instructional strategies, course design, and teacher training programs (Hsin, 2008; Li, 2003; Lü, 2003). However, no significant endeavors have been invested in the application of open resources capable of enhancing Chinese distance pedagogy. This study thus observed an empirical Chinese distance teacher training program conducted at National Taiwan Normal University in 2012. Questionnaires were given to twenty-eight trainees in the end of the training program to survey their use of various online open resources. The purpose was to document the implementation and integration of online resources that are essential for effective instruction of Chinese online classes. The analysis showed that such open resources include four categories. Cloud storage (e.g. Google Drive and Dropbox) can be used to host teaching plans, materials, and video clips. Its feature of file synchronization allows teachers to manage students’ assignments or co-edit and share files with coordinators and students. An e-learning platform (e.g. Adobe Connect and JoinNet) can also be applied to conduct online Chinese classes through a videoconferencine medium. Third, alternative instant messaging software (e.g. Skype, MSN, or Facebook) serves as an optimized solution for teachers to contact their students when problematic transmission of the teaching platform occurred. Word processor and presentation software (e.g. Microsoft Word and PowerPoint) can also be applied to facilitate the editing of material layouts, interactivity design, visual aids, etc. These resources can enhance the operating procedure of online courses in their preparatory, instructional, and evaluating stages. Websites useful for distance teachers involve another four categories: websites introducing Chinese pronunciation, characters, grammar, culture, and linguistics; websites providing self-learning channels for the four skills; websites offering practical references such as dictionaries, materials, proficiency tests, and language corpus; websites built by academic institutions and associations that offer information of teacher professional development. The results of the questionnaires show that the participants confirmed the importance of the ability to apply online open resources during Chinese distance teaching. The practice of an e-learning platform was essential particularly for course design and the integration of various Chinese learning websites. The findings demonstrate that the application of open resources to web-based learning can enrich Chinese online teaching and autonomous learning. A further quantitative study on teacher-learner’s application, coordination, and usability of online open resources is worthy of being unveiled.