Wide-spread online learning brought along profound reform in education, correspondingly provided new opportunities to agricultural long-distance education. In the context of rapid development of on-line learning, are we ready yet? With regard to teaching, technologies themselves are not of good or bad nature. The key is how teachers are going to use those technologies. Moreover, how and which technologies are adopted is directly related to the educational philosophy. In other words, indeed, technologies are important; however, only a good combination of advanced technologies with effective teaching methods can bring along reforms in education.
The purpose of writing the Book is to help the CABTS teachers across the country to have a better understanding of the major components of online learning, ranging from the design and development of learning modules, the principles, elements, procedures and rules for high-quality and well-organized online teaching/learning, to the various methods and tools used in online teaching. We were confronted with one problem while writing the Book, i.e. to use “online teaching” or “online learning”. The reason why it bothers us is because Internet-based teaching is featured as learner-centered. The expression widely used is “online learning”. However, since the Book is targeted at CABTS teachers, telling them how to achieve the goals of “online learning”, it is decided to use “online teaching” rather than “online learning” in the Book.
Online teaching is a different type of teaching, based on an open platform by combining the co-working and independent learning together. Online teaching is neither simply putting text, audio or video learning materials online, nor just acquiring learning materials from the Internet. It does not make any sense by copying or imitating traditional face-to-face teaching methods. From the learners’ perspective, the nature of online learning is communication and interaction, and the advantage of online learning is openness and cohesion. From the teachers’ perspective, the most important thing is to help the learners have better understanding, application and recreation of learning materials, promote communication and deliberation, and build up capacity in critical thinking and knowledge construction.
In the context of rapid development of modern communication technologies, as an educator, especially an educator in open/long-distance education, we cannot sit by indifferently or even be detached from the latest developments. Hope the Book will be the stepping stone for future adventures in online teaching.
Published by China Agriculture Press, December 2014