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China South to North: Some Cool Looks, a Few Books, and a Building Named MOOCs
Tuesday, July 07, 2015
TravelinEdMan in China. Well, I got back from China a little over a week ago. It was great to see so many old friends and meet many new friends in Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Beijing. I can even spell each city without looking it up now. Traffic...sure there were a few days with many of the road and also the rainy season started during my second or third week there. But I definitely had much fun. Too much fun?

As you will read below, I visited eight cities and gave 18 talks at 12 universities. I was also on several panels and research presentations. I was pretty tired when I got on the plane heading for China. That was one of the hardest preparations in my life and I had a book with Routledge and special journal issue of the International Journal on E-learning about to come out on MOOCs and Open Education that needed proofing (see my homepage for links to both). Yes...I was tired but the entire trip went very well. And I hope you agree after reading the stories below and browsing the pictures. You can use anything you like from my talks (if you cite me, of course). My talks are all posted to archived talks in Feel free to download them (18 China talks).

City #1: HONG Kong. It all started in Hong Kong. I left on June 2nd and arrived on the 3rd by going through Detroit and Shanghai. Customs in Shanghai was a tad bit much for me since I had to clear customs in China and walk to the other terminal and clear customs again to get on the plane to Hong Kong. And then I had to clear customs a third time a few hours later in Hong Kong. Fortunately, my former student, Dr. Jingli Cheng from the University of Hong Kong, took good care of me the first week or so of the trip (and on into Week 2 in Shanghai).

The first person other than Jingli that I ran into was Gerald Knezek from the University of North Texas. He introduced me to his family as well as Nancy Law from the University of Hong Kong. He also took me to Kennedytown where we had a refreshing drink.


Gerald introduced me to a guy at the University of Hong Kong named David Churchill. What an amazing office he had.


He even had the complete works of Lev Vygotsky. Everything and anything was in that office.

I got much of the first few days off but did speak at the University of Hong Kong on Friday June 5th. What a cool room it was! Many projection screens. Multiple layers of seating. Excellence acoustics. And the room was packed...they had to bring in more chairs. Certainly, that makes for a good start.


 It started my trip off quite well. I also got to see many former students of mine when in Hong Kong, including Timothy Hew (who moved from Singapore), Theresa Chen, and Kuk Lee.

Kuk Lee was in my P640 class on the social aspects of learning back in 1997.

Timothy Hew was in my classes about 10-12 years ago. Same with Jingli Cheng (see his young boy and wife above).

I was at Theresa Chen's wedding 19 or 20 months earlier in Taiwan. Her husband got a job in Hong Kong and so did she now. She took three of my classes about 7-8 years ago including one were the class created wikibooks with students from the University of Houston and Beijing Normal University and others.

I got to enjoy a view from the peak in Hong Kong with Jingli when on June 6th. It was a long and very hot walk up but well worth it. For one, I had eaten too much and needed to lose some weight.




Next Jingli and I explored downtown Hong Kong. We were already quite tired and sweaty; or at least I was.

City #2: Macau. Macau was interesting the following day (June 7th).

Back to City #1: More Hong Kong. Before leaving Hong Kong, I spent Monday June 8th at the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts, and Hong Kong Polytechnic University (Poly U). Peter Duffy was my contact at HK APA. My main contacts at HK Poly were out of town. It was my first time to present at an academy for the performing arts. I needed (and found) many examples of blended learning (they topic they choose) for theater, drama, music, TV and film, opera, dance, Web design, etc., and language learning which they also had classes on. Most interesting. But it a ton of time to prepare.

I even met a children's book author and illustrator, Gavin Coates, when in Hong Kong. Gavin now works at the University of Hong Kong. His book company is called "Earthy Publications." Cool guy he is.

On Tuesday morning June 9th, I headed over to HK Poly for a 90 minute talk. The room was packed and I was a tad bit tired but fortunately, it went well. A few final pics from my hotel room are below.

I enjoyed my time at HK Poly.

This is a new building at HK Poly. UNIQUE!

My bags are always packed. And I rarely check a bag when I fly. Two pillows help me to sleep.

Traffic jam in Hong Kong. Good thing Jingli and I took the train to mainland China (Shenzhen).

Goodbye to my new friends.

City #3: Shenzhen, China. After speaking at HK Poly U on Tuesday afternoon June 9th, Jingli Cheng and I took the 4 pm train to mainland China. Our destination? Shenzhen..a. city of 15 million which, as I noted above, did not exist 35 years ago.

It was great to have Jingli take me over the border. He is a great friend.

Xu Li, Associate Director of the Global Engagement Office was now my main contact.

Shenzhen is a pretty cool place. So much construction. So many cranes.

I got people to wave and lean at South University of Science and Technology of China (SUSTC) in Shenzhen on June 10th.

There are huge plans to grow this campus. They are planning an international conference center. The city of Shenzhen is a case in point. It did not exist 35 years ago but now has over 15 million people. I counted about 20 cranes outside the window of the guest house room that I had at SUSTC.

It was great to meet Professor Li Ming. We had a lovely chat about e-learning in his office and what an office it was!  He is secretary of the CPC committee of the SUSTC (which means he is very important in planning the future directions of the SUSTC).

They also took me to Tencent which is like the Google of China. Tencent is famous for social media and communication products like QQ and WeChat.

I had a couple of Tencent tour guides (I guess, if I was joking, "10 cent tour guides" would be a pun), but they were pretty good tour guides. One of them  is named Penny Chen. Imagine being a Penny at Tencent. Smile.

City #4: Guangzhou, China. In Guangzhou, I spoke at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies. My upcoming visiting scholar, Dr. Menglian (Linda) Liu, made sure that I did not get lost. She will come to IU in a year.


A day later while in Guangzhou, I met a great friend of 7 years, but for the very first time in person. It was Dr. Jiao (Johnny) Jianli from South China Normal University (SCNU) was the translator of my World Is Open book which came out in the USA in 2009 and in Chinese 2 years later in 2011. As noted later in this blog post, the Chinese version he created has sold more copies (over 20,000) than the English version (around 15,700 copies). I was delighted to hear that the Chinese version is a best seller for East China Normal University (ECNU) Press. I remember many emails back and forth with Dr. Jiao about the terms I used in the book and what they meant; in particular, it was difficult to translate my puns and subtle humor. He and his team worked very hard on this project. We will team up again for my new book on MOOCs and Open Education Around the World (mentioned elsewhere in this blog post).
So it was really great to finally meet him (and his students and colleagues) in Guangzhou. We met up again a few days later in Shanghai for the AECT conference event (see later pictures).



I got some of the people at South China Normal University in Guangzhou to hold up their mobile and also to do the "IU" sign. And I got a few people to jump near the end of my first talk.


At the end of my two talks, I was given an certificate that I am now a "Guest Professor" for the next three years at South China Normal University. What a great honor!

After those talks, I hung out with my friend Zehui (Jane) Zhan and her husband, Dr. Hu Mei, who showed me around Guangzhou.



Kyle Peck from Penn State University showed up my final moments in Guangzhou during breakfast and I got to introduce him to Jane before running to the airport shuttle bus (with 3 minutes to spare).
Goodbye Guangzhou; a most beautiful city. Jane is supposed to be coming to Indiana University in a year or two. I will be her sponsor. She interviewed me for an article on blended learning about 7 years ago which she translated to Chinese. That translated article really helped me get known in China or so it seems.

City #5: Shanghai, China. I landed in Shanghai. I have too many pictures to post here. Let's just say that I saw many colleagues (e.g., David Wiley who has a chapter in my new book on MOOCs and Open Education Around the world; Ke Zhang who co-wrote the Empowering Online Learning/R2D2 book with me) and former students (e.g., Jingli Cheng from the U of Hong Kong, Vanessa Dennen from Florida State University, Xiaojing Kou from IU, etc.). David, Vanessa, Ke, and I did a preconference workshop on Tueday June 15th at Shanghai International Studies U (SISU). It went fabulously well. What fun! The AECT conference (or summer research symposium) started the next day at East China Normal University (ECNU).

Before the AECT summer research conference at ECNU, I went over the Manchester Business School Office in Shanghai and gave a talk on my new book on MOOCs and Open Education Around the World on Monday July16th. My wonderful friend, Nigel Banister, Chief Global Officer at Man Business U,  put me in touch with the Regional Director in Shanghai, Sherry Fu. Sherry and I were hoping for a book launching but the book did not get published until a few days later. Here are a few pictures from that lunch session.

I once again saw my World is Open book translator, Dr. Jianli (Johnny) Jiao. But I also met the editor from ECNU Press, Chengjun (CJ) Peng. He told me that ECNU Press is the largest education press in China  with over 2,000 titles per year. He added that my World is Open book is a bestseller for them with over 20,000 copies sold in Chinese. Cool..that is more sales than in English. I then bought nearly 100 copies from him to giveaway to students and others in my journeys in China. Johnny will translate the new MOOCs and Open Education Around the World book and ECNU will publish it. I edited this new book with Mimi Lee, Tom Reeves, and Tom Reynolds. The MOOCs book homepage from Routledge has more information as does my homepage. The Preface (which includes chapter abstracts) is free to share (repeat FREE to share). Below is a image of the MOOCs book cover.

Here is a picture with CJ at ECNU Press offices. Below that is Dr. Jiao.

I was made a guest professor at South China Normal University (SCNU) for the next 3 years. Dr. Jiao brought an English version of the certificate with him to Shanghai. The one that they gave me in Guangzhou was in Chinese.

Marcus Childress (Now with (Baker University) and the magician for the social.

Former student, Dr. Min Shi takes us to a delicious restaurant my first night in shanghai. It was great to see her.

I had a chance to visit with Jenny Zhu whom I had interviewed for my World is Open book about 7 years ago. She and her husband Hank sold that company and started "Open Language" which is in the People Squared building in Shanghai. It was great to catch up; albeit far too brief.

Some pics from Shanghai International Studies University (SISU) new campus about 1-2 hours from downtown Shanghai depending on traffic. Jingli Cheng and I presented there on Monday night June 14th.

The next day was the free MOOCs, Open Education, and e-Learning workshop at the old campus of SISU. We had a great room and a delightful time.

My friend Dr. Ilju Rha from Seoul National University (SNU) attended the AECT event in Shanghai with a few of his students. I gave them each a TEC-VARIETY book that I had shipped over.

More pics with my World is Open book translator, Dr. Jiao from SCNU. Ke Zhang and Menglian (Linda) Liu in here too.

World is Open book writer (me) meets his publisher (CJ on right) and translator (Dr. Jiao on left). What a great chance to meet. ECNU Press where CJ works is just a few short steps from the conference hotel...well perhaps 50 yards.

My former student, Dr. Xiaojing Kou and her sister had a presentation a the conference on OER use in China. I was a third member of this presentation.

Even their mother came for the event in Shanghai

I got pretty sick and congested right before my keynote but it went extremely well or so I was told. Many people came up after for a World is Open book (in Chinese) or a TEC-VARIETY book (in English).
The picture below is fuzzy since it is from someone who watched my keynote via the videostream (i.e., it is a picture of the stream). I had the audience do a pose for the world being open for learning.
Free books are a safe way to look popular...but I was literally under attack here at ECNU in Shanghai as well as a few days later at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou.

Conference in Shanghai ends June 19, 2015 at about noon. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end.


A new mall in Shanghai near the conference hotel. was much in China.

It was so much fun to hang out with David Wiley, Vanessa Dennen (blog), and Ke Zhang when in Shanghai. 

Before leaving Shanghai, I got in a group photo-shoot at the end of the AECT Summer Research Conference event in Shanghai back on June 19th. There were 5 or 6 past or current presidents of AECT in attendance at the event in Shanghai. Impressive!

City #6: Wuzhen, China. After the conference in Shanghai, my former visiting scholar, Dr. Yan Li from Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, took me and Tristan Johnson from Northeastern University by train to Hangzhou. Dr. Robert (Bob) Reiser from Florida State University and Lin Lin from the University of North Texas arrived later.

Before Bob and Lin arrived, three of Yan's students took Tristan and I to Wuzhen, which is often called the "Venice of China." It was Sunday June 21 which was an important holiday weekend in China (i.e., Dragon Boat Festival); hence, much traffic. Sidenote: There sure are a lot of holidays in China (2015 holiday calendar). Makes you want to move to China!

City #7: Hangzhou, China (and West Lake). I was singing in the rain with Bob when at West Lake on Monday June 22. I definitely enjoyed my time in Hangzhou and West Lake. Bob, Lin Lin, Yan, and I spoke at a conference at Zhejiang University on June 23rd, after which, I departed for Beijing.

Yes, I still use my Ed Media bag form 1999 in Seattle. It was my very first Ed Media conference.

City #8: Beijing, China. And I had the most excellent time in Beijing with my friends as Beijing Normal University (BNU). Hard to briefly mention all my friends there at BNU. They include Jingjing Zhang (an old friend since her graduate school time at Oxford), Meifeng Liu (a visiting scholar at IU back in 2000), Qing Chen (who translated my Adding Some TEC-VARIETY book to Chinese), Li Chen (who arranged for the translation and seems in charge of many things at BNU), Xiuli (Lily) Zhuang (who worked on an international wikibook project with me long ago), Shengquan Yu (who participated in an event with me in Las Vegas back in 2008), and many more. My former student Dr. Minjing Duan was at my talks and took me to dinner with her family. And my old friend Dongping Zheng from the University of Hawaii was there. My next student, Meina Zhu, was also in attendance as were two visiting scholars, Wenjing Hu and Xinyi (Cindy) Shen, who received their master's and Ph.D. degrees, respectively, when I was there.

Before the pictures from the BNU campus, I should mention my talk at the Open University of China (OUC), which is the second largest university in the world with more than 3.5 million students. Amazing! Scratch it off my bucket list. Only the Open University of India is larger. I had a great time there. Several people actually heard of me and had read my books. I was stunned.

Unfortunately, it was national exam day for secondary students and so the roads were packed with traffic. I kept looking at my watch waiting for the driver. My translator/escort arrived early. She was nervous too. Even though driver arrived late 30-40 minutes, we made it to the OUC only five or 10 minutes late. I tried to prepare as quickly as I could. They had three cameras on me and a couple of microphones so it was not easy to just jump in and start speaking. But it went pretty well.

Ok, I spoke at the Open University of China. That one talk had the potential to impact more students than all other talks that I will do in my career. I can seriously think about retiring now.

Time to move on to Beijing Normal University (BNU) for my final two talks of the trip.

I recruited Minjing Duan (now Dr. Duan...see below) back in 1998 or 1999 when she applied to educational psychology at IU. She arrived some seven years later when we got her funding in IST. In between, she and her husband took to me to many interesting places in Beijing back in October 2004. Time flies.


Ah Graduation Day has arrived at BNU!

Zhuang (Lily) Xiuli (below) collaborated with me back in 2007-2008 on an international wikibook project.

As I mentioned, Wenjing Hu and Xinyi (Cindy) Shen, received their master's and Ph.D. degrees, respectively, when I was there. They were visiting scholars at IU last year.

Wenjing and Cindy took me the Zhongguancun MOOCs Times Building in Beijing as well as an art district called 798. So many start-up companies in China. Educational technology and e-learning is a huge new industry. According to a May 26, 2015 report from the World Bank, there is a 700 increase in investment in online education companies in China during the past year. Per this report, China has gone from 692 such companies in 2014 to 1018 in 2015. I met with many such leaders or founders when at them MOOCs Times building back on June 26, 2015.

It was fun to hear about all the new gaming, e-learning, language learning, etc. companies at the MOOCs building, but it was time to see art in the 798 district of Beijing.

By now. I must go back to being a professor of something. I am not sure what. I have been kicked out of the department in which I was first hired.

And so ends my nearly 4 week trip to China. I visited eight cities and gave 18 talks at 12 universities. That was a lot to prepare for. I hope you enjoyed the stories. My talks are all posted to archived talks in Feel free to download them (18 China talks). Hope you enjoyed the recap. Sorry if I bored anyone. And I am totally delighted that when I clicked post, the computer or the blog tool did not crash. It almost did after 10-12 hours of work. I got many error messages. Yikes! A big relief went through my body when it posted successfully.

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About Me

Name: Curt Bonk
Home: Bloomington, Indiana, United States
About Me: I am a former accountant and CPA and a former educational psychologist. I am now Professor of IST at Indiana University and also adjunct in the School of Informatics. I founded and later sold SurveyShare. As president of CourseShare, LLC, I run around the world training instructors to teach online and give motivational talks about emerging learning technologies. I also write and edit books related to e-learning and blended learning. See bio and vita.

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