Online courses have become hugely popular in large part because of their convenience. CFP
In the past, people could only find information from books and their teachers. For serious students, it was a dream to hear lectures from professors at top universities. The internet has changed this situation completely. Online courses offer people around the world access to global resources.
On Nov 2, the Ministry of Education announced that, as of August 2019, about 270 million Chinese people had taken Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) – one of the platforms for distance education.
“It means high-quality, low-cost and large-scale online learning has become the norm. A higher education revolution is spreading worldwide,” Gao Song, vice president of Peking University, told Xinhua.
First introduced in 2006, MOOCs emerged as a popular mode of learning in 2012. Since then, top universities around the world, including Peking University and Tsinghua University, have offered MOOCs on different platforms.
According to China Daily, China has now built an extensive MOOC network, offering around 15,000 courses in a variety of disciplines. Subjects range from physics and chemistry to Chinese traditional culture. “The wide variety of courses they offer is like a buffet, where you can pick whatever interests you, and that’s why I use MOOCs very often,” said Wang Kerui, a freshman at Beijing Normal University.
The course Introducing China in English, from Hubei University, for example, provides participants with a wide range of areas, including Chinese philosophy, traditional festivals and foods that best define Chinese culture. One foreign learner left a review on Icourse163.org: “The course helps me learn more about Chinese culture.”
The interactive and flexible learning also keeps students coming back.
Unlike traditional courses, students don’t need to be simply satisfied with what the teacher has taught or busily take notes of all the key points in the class. They could even learn something new or review what they learned in their spare time.
Huang Yiwei, a senior high school student from Shandong province, is a typical example. When she didn’t fully understand some complicated math problems, Huang would seek out solutions and discuss related methods with other students on the MOOC platform. “It not only improved my math studies greatly, but also gave me a chance to interact with people from all over the world,” said Huang.