Erasmus Plus - Visit to XJTLU in China


The following series of posts will thoughts and musings about my visit to XJTLU in China. These posts will be a mixture of diary entries, photos and general reflections about the country and the higher education system.

In October 2016, I found out that I was successful in my application for Erasmus + funding to visit the XJTLU campus in Suzhou, China. I was very humbled to have been accepted but was also excited and nervous at the prospect of this type of travel. I've never traveled that far east before and have only been on one long haul flight in my years on this planet.  I was fortunate to have had great support from the Study Abroad Team as well as our own administrative staff (Robin & Sandra). Organising travel, hotel and visa applications would have been a bigger hassle without their help. This was also the first time I had been away from my family. The kids were happy though as I had orders to purchase Chinese sweets and Kimono's.

Even though I though I had lots of time to prepare for my journey I still felt I could have done with another week (or two!). The rationale for my 5 day visit to XJTLU as described in my submission was thus. Following a brief discussion with Dr James Wilson (Director, Academic Enhancement Centre) and Roland Sherwood (Technology Enhanced Learning Manager) it was anticipated that I will undertake and participate in the following activities:

1. Attend a selection of core teaching sessions in order to help increase my understanding of the pedagogical process adopted by academic staff, as well as being able view the process from the learner’s point of view.
2. Attend the XJTLU Learning and Teaching Colloquium with a view to gain a more sophisticated understanding of the issues concerning staff and students at the institution.
3. Deliver a presentation at the XJTLU Learning and Teaching Colloquium. The focus of which has yet to be identified but I would expect it to be based on the major eLearning initiatives that impact University of Liverpool staff and students. Current university wide initiatives include VITAL baseline, Lecture Capture and electronic marking and submission of coursework. 
4. Shadow educational technologist colleagues in order to increase my knowledge of how open source learning technology systems are used to support academic practice at the institution   
5. Attend and contribute to the first Moodle Moot meeting in the region.

(Sadly, the first ever Moodle Moot in China was pushed back to later in the year. A real shame as I was looking forward to this.)

In addition, I'd forwarded them a series of topics and questions that I'd like to understand in more depth. 

  1. Strategic approaches to technology-enhanced learning and encouraging innovation in teaching and learning
  2. How staff are supported/encouraged to innovate with TEL
  3. Educational development support models and practices
  4. Support services for student transitional to study in Liverpool
  5. The use of feedback in formative and summative assessment
  6. The embedding of lecture capture at XJTLU - staff perceptions and student use
  7. The use of social media and mobile technologies to support learning - WeChat , Weibo etc

On reflection, this was possibly too much information and practice to attempt to digest and understand in a short time period. Made even more challenging by jetlag, technological issues and cultural differences. However, I did find these useful to refer back to during my stay. Keeping me on track.