Mei Lixia

Mei Lixia: to Become the Pioneer of Reform of Education and Teaching

There is an acre of land and a dream in everyone’s heart for the fruits and the spring breeze of life. For some people, the dream is to “travel around the world”, but for Ms Mei Lixia, the dream is to light the lives of the students with knowledge, warmth and power on the platform. On May, 2017, Ms Mei was awarded as the “Pioneering Teacher of Online Education” by Research Center for Online Education of Ministry of Education because of her contribution to the reform and innovation of MOOC. Her course “Economic Geography and Rise and Fall of Enterprises” had been played on many online educational platforms with 60,000 students studied the course.

Stay True to the Original Self and Devote to Education

A teacheris someone who could propagate the doctrine, impart professional knowledge, and resolve doubts. Ms Mei had the life dream of being a teacher to educate people, resolve doubts and pass the power of knowledge when she was a child. After her graduation as a doctor from the College of Urban and Environmental Sciences of Peking University, Ms Mei became a teacher of ZUEL to realize her original dream.

She devoted herself to her choice of the platform. In the first three years of her career, she had a workload of 600 class hours a year on average and taught 13 disciplines including “Systems Engineering”, “Management”, “Strategic Management”, “Management of Multinational Company”, “Logistics System Engineering”, “Standardization and Quality Authentication”, “Asset Appraisal”, “Technical Standard and Innovation Management”, “Theories and Methods of Asset Appraisal”, “International Standardization” and so on. Some of the disciplines were voluntarily taken over by her from the colleagues who went abroad for further study. She designed and prepared for the class from scratch and started new disciplines when the colleagues came back to take over. She was well-prepared for each class and devoted herself to the classes for the students with great passion. If she didn’t love her job, she wouldn’t start a new optional course of liberal study “Economic Geography and Rise and Fall of Enterprises” for the undergraduate students of ZUEL with such heavy workload of undergraduate teaching on her already. Everyone knows that the optional courses are generally arranged at night and Ms Mei doesn’t live in the campus. But she never minds the traffic jam at night because the eyes of the students hungry for knowledge are the sources of her power.

Every class of Ms Mei was highly recognized by the students because of her love and heart for the undergraduate teaching. She got more than 98 for the undergraduate teaching appraisal of each course. Many students wrote commons that “Ms Mei has clear logic and great enthusiasm in the class and enlivened the class for the students”, and “She is one of the best teachers I have ever met in ZUEL”.

Her love to the teaching career and the students went across the boundary of the university. A girl student of Hubei Institute of Fine Arts, who took part in the minor course “Management” of ten universities six year ago, started a Children’s Palace in her hometown Gucheng County of Xiangyang. When learning the students were lacking of books, Ms Mei bought more than 100 books and sent to the student at her own expense. The picture of the children holding the books sent by the student brought up the lyrics of the song “an Acre of Land” that, “there is an acre of land in everyone’s heart for the fruits and the spring breeze of life.”

To Proceed with Reform and Innovation

To make a world of difference. Teachers of the university should not only pass the knowledge to the students, but also should be brave in reform and innovation to become the model for the students of the spirit of innovation to fight for the first-class. Ms Mei, as “the first person to try tomato”, was brave enough to conduct the teaching reform of MOOC (Massive Open Online Course, which was “慕课” for short in Chinese) in the classes of ZUEL.

Our lives had been totally changed by Internet+ in every aspect. For example, Alipay changed our paying patterns, DiDi Taxi changed our travel patterns and WeChat changed our social patterns. And MOOC is changing our traditional educational patterns. MOOC, taking advantage of the Internet and the flipped classroom, changed the interactive relation between teaching and learning by “making a film” and was very popular among the ubiquitous learners. The Top 3 MOOC platforms Cousera, edX and Udacity had explored relatively mature operational modes and tore down the wall of world-class universities on some level, providing the ordinary people with university courses of Ivy League. And the Chinese MOOC platforms, such as MOOC of Chinese University, Xuetangx, CNMOOC, Chinese MOOCs and University Open Online Courses of UOOC, were founded to provide the best teachers, the best courses and the best resources of China for the online learners for free.

On September 3rd, 2014, the recording of Ms Mei’s course “Economic Geography and Rise and Fall of Enterprises” was finished, which was the first MOOC of ZUEL (and of the many universities of Wuhan). It was put on the platform of Xuetangx and had 2,000 students within 9 hours. When the course was over after eight weeks, there were 7,312 students which was much more than the 300 students of a traditional class.

“How can the tens of thousands of students online take the test?”

“The teaching of MOOC is not counted as teaching workload. So why bother?”

“You put the resources of the courses of years of accumulation online for free. Don’t you worry that you will lose your job?”

There were many doubts from colleagues and friends when facing new things like MOOC. Ms Mei would explain and share her experience of the teaching of MOOC patiently. She helped others to understand MOOC by sharing her practice of MOOC in the National Training of the Teaching Ability for the Young Teachers and in Wuhan University of Technology. Now there are 32 MOOC courses getting online with “Zhongnan Style”.

To Pass down the Flame and Keep on Going

Good wine needs no bush. To improve the efficiency, level up the teaching and cultivate more great talents for the country and the society, Ms Mei was diligent in her work and willing to learn from senior colleagues to make every 45-minites worth it. In the eight years of her teaching career, Ms Mei won the 2nd prize of the 5th Lecture Contest of Young Teachers and the 3rd prize of undergraduate teaching of ZUEL. In 2014, Ms Mei’s course “Economic Geography and Rise and Fall of Enterprises” was awarded as one of the 8th “National Excellent Open Online Courses” and was broadcast on the platforms of “I Courses” and Netease Open Course. In October, 2016, Ms Mei was awarded as the “2016 MOOC Excellent Teacher” by the platform of MOOC of Chinese University. In May, 2017, Ms Mei was awarded as the “Pioneering Teacher of Online Education” by Research Center for Online Education of Ministry of Education. In the three years, the course “Economic Geography and Rise and Fall of Enterprises” had been played for 30 times with 60,000 students and 25 universities took it as optional course. But this is only a start. Ms Mei has been making the second season and the third season of the course “Economic Geography and Rise and Fall of Enterprises” with Chinese and English subtitles for the international platform of MOOC to let the online learners hear from the teacher of ZUEL and learn the story of China.

Minister Chen Baosheng of Ministry of Education proposed that, in the progress of construction of “Double First-class”, the universities needed to change the idea to “the four returns”: the return to common sense, the return to duty, the return to the original intention and the return to the dreams. The universities should devote themselves to education and strive to serve our country and make it stronger. Ms Mei, together with all of the teachers of ZUEL, will contribute to the construction of “Double First-class” of ZUEL and the realization of the dream of ZUEL of cultivating great talents for the society and the Chinese dream of rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

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    Zhu Yong