Universities jump into online courses

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China ranks first in the number of Massive Online Open Courses-with 3,200 launched by 460 higher education institutes, including 200 courses available on foreign MOOC platforms-the Ministry of Education said on Monday.

Since 2012, China has established 10 MOOC platforms, and 55 million people have tried the courses, including more than 6 million university students who have earned credits by finishing the courses, said Wu Yan, director of the ministry's Department of Higher Education.

On Monday, the ministry selected and released the first batch of 490 national-level MOOCs, 70.2 percent of which were established by China's top universities.

Some 78 of those courses have been taken by over 100,000 learners. For example, more than 980,000 have taken the College Oral English Course developed by National University of Defense Technology.

Twelve courses in the first batch have been available on the foreign MOOC platforms, including the course Chinese for Beginners developed by Peking University, which has been taken by 450,000 people.

Guo Xudong, an engineer who graduated from Tsinghua University, said he has downloaded the MOOC app developed by Tsinghua University onto his mobile phone.

"I take electricity related courses in my spare time. After I passed the course's online test, I received a certificate issued by the platform," Guo said.

Gao Song, vice-president of Peking University, said the university has already launched over 100 MOOCs and will develop an MOOC version for every course to give people access to the university's educational resources.

Zhan Dechen, a professor of computer science at Harbin Institute of Technology, developed Introduction to Computer Thinking for freshmen in 2013. "I feel encouraged when I see that millions of students have posted active comments about the course," he said.

"University students in China are all frequent users of the internet, and the platforms are gaining popularity," said Wu. "The course breaks through the limitations of time and space."

The ministry will identify 10,000 courses of national-level quality by 2020-3,000 MOOCs and 7,000 offline courses-to promote the improvement of higher education, Wu said.

The ministry will also continue to promote the development and application of MOOCs, especially in China's central and western regions, to benefit more people, Wu added.

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