China ranks first in world in numbers of MOOCs and viewers

By Sun Yahui, People’s Daily

China ranks first globally in the numbers of massive open online courses (MOOCs) and viewers, and sees fast growth in the figures, said Wu Yan, director of the Department of Higher Education of China’s Ministry of Education (MOE).

“In 2013, we only had five MOOCs and more than 100 registered users on MOOC platforms, while now the numbers of MOOCs and relevant users in China have exceeded 52,500 and 370 million, respectively,” Wu said.

Since their inception in China in 2013, MOOCs have experienced remarkable growth in the country. By bringing high-quality education resources to people across the country, they help improve the fairness of education.

In addition to accelerating the digitization of higher education in China, the rapid growth of MOOC platforms over the past several years has enriched the learning materials available to learners, especially young workers who are used to online learning.

Wang Ning, a young man who lives in Tongzhou district, Beijing, is among the young workers in China who enjoy MOOCs.

Since Wang commutes by subway every day, he has developed a habit of taking MOOCs on the subway.

“Lately I’ve been watching the course taught by a teacher from Fudan University on ‘Records of the Three Kingdoms’ as I’ve always been fascinated by the Three Kingdoms period in Chinese history. The methods I can learn from the course for understanding classical texts can also be helpful in my reading other historical records in the future,” Wang said.

Although Wang’s job is not related to history, he believes that online learning can enrich his knowledge and broaden his horizons. Quite a lot of Wang’s colleagues are also active users of MOOC platforms.

“Surveys show that more than half of young workers have taken vocational training, choosing to add to their knowledge base after work,” said a white paper titled “Youth of China in the New Era”, which was recently released by China’s State Council Information Office.

Rich and diverse online learning platforms in the country, such as MOOC platforms, knowledge communities, and NetEase Online Open Courses, not only enable young people to continue learning after graduation, but facilitate the sharing of high-quality education materials from across the globe.

Smart Education of China, an integrated online platform that offers education-related public services, integrates the country’s platforms for primary and middle school education, vocational education, higher education, and employment services for college graduates.

Nearly nine million people from 129 countries and regions, including China, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Japan, have visited the platform for higher education, with the number of visits at the peak periods reaching 7,000 per second, according to Xu Mei, spokeswoman for the MOE.

More than 25,000 courses have been accessed, accounting for 93 percent of all the courses on the platform, Xu said.

Currently, the platform for vocational education has gathered nearly 2,000 digital libraries, over 6,000 excellent online courses and more than 2,000 video courses, Xu said, noting that these resources can effectively help users learn knowledge and skills in various fields.

As Smart Education in China is improved with each passing day, more and more young people outside China can also access high-quality learning resources from the country via the platforms under it.

According to Wu, the platform for higher education connected to Smart Education of China has been linked to international online learning platforms, iCourse, and XuetangX, and are therefore able to provide more than 900 courses in multiple languages for learners around the world.

“We have initiated and established the Global MOOC and Online Education Alliance in China, implemented mutual recognition of credits in 13 prestigious universities in 11 countries, and opened 168 integrated courses, contributing China’s strength to global higher education,” Wu said.

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