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Jia Yimin

OLnet Fellow Jia Yimin and Guangyu Freear

CC-BY Patrick McAndrew. Pictured: Jia Yimin (left) and Guangyu Frear (right) who worked alongside Yimin and Elpida Makryannis facilitating communication and translating useful documents about OER in China from Chinese to English.


Yimin Jia

Project Title

Collaborative Learning in China using Open Educational Resources

Project Summary

Yimin's fellowship research focused on "How can an online platform support collaborative learning using Open Educational Resources?" and involved:

  • a literature review of international OER, online platforms, communities and tools
  • creating a social support environment for a specific course;
  • integrating existing OU materials with some external material from Chinese OER sources;
  • publishing one or more papers as a result of this research project

She worked with Elpida Makriyannis, aiming to share research findings and exchange research experiences with a focus around user behaviour and participattory learning in UK, Chinese and international online learning communities and platforms.

Dates visited OU UK

13th September to 12th November 2010


Future Education Research Centre, South China Normal University (SCNU)

Biographic information

Yimin is a Lecturer of Educational Technology in the Department of Educational Technology, School of Information Technology in Education of the South China Normal University (SCNU). Together with Prof. Sang Xinmin and Prof. Jiao Jianli, she formed the main teaching team at the Future Education Research Centre of the South China Normal University (SCNU) and developed one of the award-winning national-level teaching courses by the Chinese Ministry of Education for the National Courses of Excellence program, on the subject of learning theory. She leads a team of 15 universities and colleges from different Chinese provinces where undergraduate students use online platforms and tools to collaborate and learn from their teachers and their peers using openly and freely available  teaching materials. She holds a Masters in Educational Technology from the South China Normal University. She is married and has a young daughter.

Main Output

During my OLnet fellowship research, I investigated the possibilities of supporting collaborative and participatory learning using open educational resources and learning materials through an online platform. There are three key findings from my fellowship research, these are:

a. Motivation, context and personal preferences in online learning can greatly influence the learning experience and the participatory behaviour of the learner.

b. Online learning activities are constrained and dependent on specific curriculum structures which affect student behaviour and learning experience in online communities and networks.

c. OER use and re-use by students in China. The main challenge for my students in China with regards to open educational resources and online learning environments, is language. Due to the fact most resources are in English and most successful international online learning environments are also mainly in English, it has been difficult to use and re-use OER which haven't been translated into Chinese.


  • Presentation at the Open Educational Resources 2011 Conference “The National Courses of Excellence Program: OER for Higher Education in China” together with Dr Elpida Makriyannis
  • Journal paper with Dr Elpida Makriyannis for Tsinghua University Press journal Modern Educational Technology with the title “Fairy Rings of Participation in Online Communities: Lessons for Chinese Online Education” (in chinese)
  • Blog post about Open Educational Resources in China
  • Translation of Chinese surveys and reports in English (by Gunagyu Freear) to be shared with the OLnet research team and also through presentations and papers for the international OER community.
  • Translation of English documents and reports in Chinese, in order to progress my research and help in the dissemination of international best practice in OER and online learning to the Chinese academic community and universities.
  • Presentation of research findings on the National Courses of Excellence in China, to the OLnet team


贾义敏, Elpida Makriyannis (2011), 在线社区中的“仙女环”参与模型研究, 现代教育技术, 第21卷 ,2011年第11期  {Jia, Y., Makriyannis, E. (2011) “Fairy Rings of Participation in Online Communities: Lessons for Chinese Online Education”, Modern Educational Technology, Tsinghua University Press, Vol, 21, No. 11 2011, Beijing, China.

Jia, Y (2010), ' Initial information about Open Educational Resources in China',, 28 September [online], (Accessed 24/01/12)

Santos, AI (2010), 'The development of OER in China', Open Content Online, 10 November [online], (Accessed 24/01/12)

Update Since Fellowship

During the second month of my fellowship I introduced (via skype and QQ) Dr Elpida Makriyannis to my research group of colleagues, teachers and students at the Future of Education Centre. Elpida introduced her Fairy Rings of participation model and a vibrant discussion started about ways to use this model for online learning communities in China. Many questions were raised from both my teaching team and my students that day and so we decided to continue working together with Elpida even after my fellowship had ended. As a consequence, we have now published a journal paper identifying key lessons that the Chinese online learning communities can learn from the Fairy Rings model of participation and understanding how to apply the model in order to improvement participation and collaborative learning. Upon my return to the university, I was able to share with my colleagues, line manager and students everything I learnt at the Institute of Education and at the Open University, including findings about the Open Learn platform, Compendium as a teaching tool, models and methodologies used in the UK and internationally, and more importantly the ethos of sharing experiences and know-how, but also achieving a better understanding of what it means to learn and teach in a more open world. My OLnet fellowship has been a very good and helpful experience for me.