By Jerry Gao
I am a new member of this community. Thanks for Professor Tom Green who introduced me to the AEL program, and I’d like to share some experience with other members across the globe.
I am a lecturer of AnimationSchool, Shenzhen Polytechnic. Our college is currently ranking at the top place in China’s polytechnic education system. Every year, during the summer vocation, we hold training camp to teachers from other colleges across China. So I believe what’s happening in our college is typically what’s going on in the whole ofChina’s college/Polytechnic education.
China is currently upgrading it’s industry. Big cities like Beijing,Shanghai,Guangzhouand Shenzhen have moved manufacturing industries far away from the city. More new spaces are rebuilt for IT, culture and creative industries. The trend has driven colleges/universities to train more high quality students to satisfy company’s needs in human resource and skills. The key question we keep asking ourselves is how our student can adapt the company’s need after graduation.
I’ve summarised the method into the follow key points.
1. Investigate company’s need, establish connection with companies, particularly the leading companies of the industry.
2. Invite company staff to get involved in course syllabus design, to make sure what we teach is what companies wanted.
3. During teaching terms, we invite company technical key staff to give presentation to student on what’s happening in their daily work. Sometimes we lead students to visit the company, experience the atmosphere.
4. When designing a course/program, we try to design it as an integrated one rather than small pieces. Teachers must work together to make sure the knowledge they teach is able to put together to workout something useful. So when the student complete the whole program, they will be able to finish a completed work.
5. Encourage students to find job/internship early. Pay attention on their feedback. To know if what we taught to them is useful or not.
I remember 4-5 years ago, many teaching staff here were highly focused on teaching the tools command by command. The teaching content was largely functional oriented. Student can only learn bits and pieces in the curriculum and they have to put the knowledge together by themselves. The students by then were not interested in learning the software, and they were not sure what they can do with the software packages. Later, the college authority realised this is not a very good way to teach, so they pretty much forced teaching staff to change to the new way of teaching.
Looking back, I think inviting the company staff to join the development of new courses helps a lot. First of all, they can give good suggestions on what’s useful and should be taught. When the students doing their coursework, it has to simulate some typical work scenarios, so they understand the how and why. The ultimate goal is to let student’s work be close enough to the real-world task.
This type of teaching is becoming popular across China, but I think still the majority schools/colleges are sticking on the old way of teaching. It needs time to promote.
But nothing is perfect. Many Chinese students lack of independence and novelty. I think this is a very critical issue. Partly it’s because of the Chinese culture, but more importantly is to do with the social atmosphere and some industry’s old traditions. After all, Chinais still heavily relying on outsourcing project from overseas. Imagine when you take other’s money and do the actually work under command, it doesn’t allow you to raise many ideas, no matter good or bad.
So, I hope to do my work to patch it. To lead the students look around the world, exchange ideas with other academics, and find more creativity via collaboration. I guess the way I am doing is pretty new in China’s IT and creative design education. Welcome to give any suggestions.
Thanks for reading.