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College courses online proving popular; China takes leading role

By Li Lei | China Daily | Updated: 2018-04-23 07:27

Zheng Renqiang, an online English teacher, works at his office in Guangzhou.[Photo/China Daily]

China aims to lead the global development of massive open online educational courses - known as MOOC - and set standards and create solutions for the sector, a Ministry of Education official said on Saturday.

"The ministry plans to roll out a development plan for online education at Chinese colleges, along with regulations and standards," said Song Yi of the ministry's Department of Higher Education. "We insist that Chinese online courses should go global and demonstrate to the world the country's achievements in the sector."

Song made the remarks at a seminar held by the ministry and Xuetangx - a MOOC platform run by Tsinghua University - to discuss the addition of quality online courses to college curricula.

According to the ministry, China had 490 quality, national-level courses available online for the public in January. Another 3,000 will be added by 2020, it said.

Song said the ministry will create policies encouraging professors to use MOOC in their teaching, and roll out rules on how college students receive credits for taking such courses in an effort to boost the training of talented people in Chinese institutions of higher education and to bridge the country's regional inequality in education.

"Professors who use MOOC in their teaching should enjoy the same sense of honor as those who innovate teaching in other ways," he said, adding that quality online courses have boosted students' enthusiasm for learning and given them more freedom to choose subjects.

Song also noted the importance of supervision in the sector, which has seen an "explosive increase in the number of users".

"Censorship should be used to stop the spread of harmful information," he said. "Users' personal information should also be protected."

Yu Shijie, head of online education at Tsinghua University, said the world's leading universities, including Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States, are all active participants in developing online courses, and some are rolling out online degree programs, which have proved popular among international students.

"It's crucial we join the exploration as well," he said, adding that in the past few years China's online education effort has made great progress and the country is in a leading position worldwide.

According to the ministry, there are more than 10 MOOC platforms in China, providing 3,200 online courses - which makes China the world's largest online course provider.

According to the China Internet Network Information Center, 144 million people had taken up online education as of June 2017.


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