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March 5, 2011

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Home » Metro » Education

College courses to be put online

PRESTIGIOUS local university courses and lectures - such as Sun Tzu's Art of War, Chinese medicine and culture - will soon debut on iTunes U and other public platforms as part of an open course program.

Inspired by the Harvard and Yale open courses, which are highly popular among locals, local universities, including Fudan University and Jiao Tong University, have started efforts to make their courses and lecture resources available to the public.

Jiao Tong plans to launch the first batch of 100-plus courses on iTunes U and Open Course Ware - a free course--sharing platform initiated by MIT a decade ago - in September.

Fudan, which holds 2,000-plus lectures annually, will also grant people free online access to the lectures with the permission of speakers.

"Course sharing will be the future trend in the virtual learning environment," said Yu Jianbo, an Academic Affairs Office official in charge of the open course program.

Apart from courses taught in Chinese, English and bilingual courses will also be launched to attract international followers.

Netizens will be able to get a glimpse into domestic universities courses after watching many overseas ones, which were subtitled by volunteers.

However, the quality of domestic education and a lack of awareness of intellectual property rights protection in the country could impede the Chinese program.

"I doubt whether Chinese open courses will be appealing," said Zhao Tongsheng, a local white-collar worker.

Though graduating from a local university, Zhao has become a fan of Yale Professor Shelly Kagan, who was lecturing the philosophy course "Death" online.

"Compared with their lectures, what I learnt before from my college is crap," he said.

Some Chinese teachers have been criticized for reading out of a textbook and following the course doctrines too strictly.

Moreover, domestic university's information technology still needs to be improved to record high-quality lectures and to provide them online.

"Some universities are not willing to invest in online courses as they don't think they will incite interest," said Xiong Bingqi, an education expert.

Some organizations, including Core and Netease, have been building a Chinese Open Course platform, which has received a poor response.

Also, some lecturers are not willing to put their work online for fear that the courses will be misused in a country where piracy is still rife.

"Though the university holds the IPR of the campus courses in theory," said Fang Ming, an official with Fudan University. "We still need the lecturer's permission to put them online."


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