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上海日报:Online Learning Levels The Playing Field(转载)  

2014-11-18 07:10:29|  分类: 英语天地 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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以下原文转载自沪江英语:英语学习门户

上海日报:Online Learning Levels The Playing Field(转载) - 大卫 - 峰回路转

  Massive, open and online courses, also known as MOOC, have stirred discussions in China about how they can help improve education in the world’s most populous country.

  The idea originated from the United States and is intended to break an educational resources imbalance to allow the less privileged free access to a good education. Of course, MOOC isn’t the only online learning tool, but what separates it from others is that it has content support from many leading universities like Harvard, MIT and Stanford. This attracts more people to sign up for courses, quizzes, discussions and lectures.

  In the past two years, several top Chinese universities including Tsinghua, Peking and Fudan have begun offering content to MOOC websites such as Coursera, edX and Udacity in the US to promote their courses internationally. In June, Shanghai’s Fudan and Jiao Tong universities signed with United Kingdom-based open learning website futurelearn.com, which is separate from MOOC, when Premier Li Keqiang visited the country.

  To some extent, Chinese educators and professors see MOOC more as an opportunity to change traditional teaching styles rather than a way to educate people.

  Peng Chongsheng, a professor at Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s School of Pharmacy, was one of the first two local professors to launch a course on Coursera in December. The threemonth course, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Chinese Culture, attracted around 22,000 domestic and overseas learners.

  “Overseas learners were far more active than Chinese learners, they really surprised me,” he said.

  A Malaysian student left numerous comments after every lesson and also helped others students solve questions.

  “You can see students helping each other in translation and their desire to learn TCM, which is seldom seen in Chinese students,” Peng said.

  Peng added that he hasn’t regretted giving up weekends, holidays and scientific research to prepare videos for his online classes.

  “I feel like I’m an actor,” the professor said. “It’s so different from being a lecturer, but it’s all worth it when you see so many people who like your course so much.

  Peng said it’s a shame that less than 10 percent of those who signed up for the course completed it. Only 3.6 percent passed the course and received a certificate. “Many online learners are not students and they give up easily due to busy work schedules or other reasons,” Peng said.

  He also said MOOC has some disadvantages. For example, participants who miss a class find it difficult to catch up as lecture videos are not online permanently.

  With the Internet being full of distractions like news, sports, movies, games and social networks, learning websites find they have a high dropout rate.

  Xu Hua, vice president of online learning website hujiang.com, said online learning websites need to do more to motivate participants to complete the courses. He suggested quick quizzes and similar stuff to challenge learners.

  “Learning can be dull and lonely,” Xu said. If students don’t have anyone to interact with, they will give up easily when they encounter difficulties.”

  He suggested making it easier for learners to get in touch with others in the class so they can share their enthusiasm for the subject and work out problems together.

  To promote interaction between learners, hujiang.com introduced a “virtual class” scheme. It imitates a real Chinese classroom in that it has class monitors, teaching assistants and classmates who help and encourage each other.

  “For example, if a learner misses a class, the class monitor will contact him to find out why and classmates will try to help others overcome difficulties so they all stay interested,” Xu said.

  Apart from keeping learners motivated, Xu said figuring out how to make money is important to sustain online learning platforms. The idea in MOOC’s case isn’t to turn a profit, but they do need a model that covers costs.

  Xu said charging a small fee may work if there are enough people signing up for the classes.

  “As a company, it costs a lot to upload so many videos on the website,” Xu said. “We use flash and voice recordings now as most of our learners said they don’t need to see the teachers just as long as their voices are clear and easy to understand.”

  Hujiang.com now has more than 3 million paying users after it established an online school. However, about 90 percent of it’s educational resources on the website remain free.


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