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US lessons for Shanghai students at their desks
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A growing number of universities in Shanghai are equipping themselves with distance learning centers to connect local classes to their counterparts abroad.

Shanghai Normal University, one of two teacher-training universities in the city, has invested more than one million yuan (US$135,768) to launch a distance learning center together with University of Dayton in the United States.

Students will be able to not only listen to real-time lectures given at American faculties and take down notes but also ask questions and interact with professors overseas by speaking via microphones on their desks.

Students will also be able to download the lectures so they can listen to them again afterwards, university officials said.

The university's school of mechanics and electronics engineering teamed up with the University of Dayton to set up a joint undergraduate program in 2003. Part of the program's students will have opportunity to be sent to the US for their last year, which costs about 200,000 yuan in total. However, only about 10 percent of the 130-plus first batch of students went abroad due to either performance or family economic reasons, school officials said.

"The distance-learning lab has proved to be a cost-efficient approach to making world-class facilities and educational resources available to the students without asking them to leave the city," said Xiang Jiaxiang, the university vice president.

Overseas distance classes will be given twice a week, but it's open to students of the joint program only for the moment. Xiang said the university was planning to build more such centers to cover all the more than 2,000 students of its six international joint education programs.

The university is only one of several universities to have created overseas education centers in recent years.

In 2003, Fudan University launched its first overseas education center with Yale University to bring live classes in New Haven to local students.

(Shanhai Daily December 17, 2007)


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