Chinese universities offer online courses
(11.10.2011)

Challenging the domination of overseas universities’ online courses among Chinese students, 18 domestic universities put their courses online free to the public yesterday.

However, some doubt these free courses will be as appealing, fearing dull lectures and obsolete courses from Chinese campuses.

Many students and office workers have joined the growing trend to pursue courses provided by prestigious universities, such as Yale and Harvard in the United States.

Some overseas university teachers, such as Shelly Kagan, who lectures online for a philosophy course, have won many Chinese fans.

Similar to OpenCourseWare — a sharing platform initiated by MIT a decade ago — Chinese universities are working together to launch a similar open course program entitled “icourse.”

Videos of classes in domestic universities are available from www.icourses.edu.cn and other public platforms, including NetEase. Courses cover a range of subjects, including culture, architecture, philosophy and history. More will be put online later.

Some commercial websites have introduced Chinese university courses online, but they did not prove popular.

Some teachers have been criticized for reading from a textbook, others are not interested and treat the idea negatively, according to insiders, while some are unwilling to put their work online for fear courses will be misused in a country where piracy is a continuing issue.