By: Dianna Fisher, Director, Open Educational Resources & Emerging Technologies
I recently traveled to China to train faculty at the Central Agricultural Broadcasting and Television School (CABTS) on Articulate Storyline – a software solution that enables the creation of learning modules using a friendly interface. The training was sponsored by Oregon State University and the American Distance Educational Consortium.
I flew to Beijing on March 21st and was picked up at the airport and taken to dinner before settling into my hotel to rest after a long flight and losing a day. I have to mention that this meal was the first of many that the beginning topic of conversation has something to do with my skill with chopsticks. Really! I had different dinner companions at almost every meal and they were all impressed. I didn’t realize this was such an admired ability, but several commented that I was better with them than they were.
It seems that over the 10 days I ate more food than I normally eat in a month, but it was all good, healthy food. Each meal consisted of 10-15 dishes and each a Beijing specialty. I ate everything from fungus to grass carp to tripe and some things I am sure I am better off not knowing, but it gave them such pleasure to keep me sampling everything while being asked, “Do you love it?” My answer was usually, “Yes!” The food was fresh and simple. It’s not the Chinese food we are served here. They took great delight that I photographed every dish and if I forgot, someone would remind me before a serving was taken. The Peking Duck was fabulous. There is actually a ritual to eating it.
In between training times, I was taken to the Great Wall of China and we walked five miles of it. After training was finished, I had an afternoon of bartering at the market with my friend Zhou Xiao (Kitty) who had previously visited OSU. I spent my last day with Julia (I can’t even begin to transliterate her Chinese name into English letters). We walked over 10 miles that day as we went to the Temple of Heaven, The Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square and of course, short visit to Chairman Mao laying in state in his crystal coffin….
….But, the training….
The workshop participants were faculty members who are responsible for delivering education to the farmers in their provinces.
I am so happy that I was given the opportunity to go to China and work with these faculty members who became my students for the week. They had a wide-range of ages and were from five different provinces.
The group went beyond what they were taught and sought out advanced techniques on their own and found delight in sharing with the others.
I did not know what kind of students I would find in the class. Would I find students who were there because they were told to be? Was this a mandatory training? I am excited that I found a group of students who were eager to learn, who were very smart and who took the initiative to solve problems and create solutions.
The presentations were the beginnings of what would eventually become learning modules that would be packaged for farmers to access.
The topics were crop rotation, integrated pest management, corn borers, silk worms and the ever present smog. I enjoyed working with them, teaching them, and then watching them work with each other as they created their projects and then presented them on the last day.
The learners exceeded my expectations for their learning and the staff of CABTS exceeded my expectations for hospitality. I look forward to continued collaborations.