www.4166comChina Daily:Shanghai schools invest in online teaching methods

As college students increasingly turn to free online courses, Chinese
educators are seeking to implement the latest developments in online
learning for primary, middle and high schools.

The development of the Massive Open Online Courses model in recent years
has made higher education more accessible and effective for many adult
learners.

Now, officials from the Shanghai Education Commission are working to
establish an online study platform based on the MOOC model for primary
and middle school students, to be launched later this year.

“On this platform, students can finish some of their study tasks, which
may include some courses. This may help reform the education method and
improve students’ interest in learning,” education commission official
Ni Minjing said.

The platform is still under construction and more detailed information
will be revealed later, he said.

The popularity of MOOCs helps teachers in what is known as “flipping”
their classrooms. Traditionally, students hear lectures in class and are
assigned to read textbooks and homework outside school. Flipped
classrooms allow students to learn new content online watching video
lectures, usually at home, freeing time in class to interact with
teachers and finish work under their guidance. Educators say this is a
more effective way to study.

A growing number of educators and schools have tried new teaching models
to push education reform.

In 2013, a research center for MOOC at East China Normal University
announced an alliance of 20 prestigious high schools to promote flipped
classrooms.

Education videos from the member schools will be uploaded to an online
platform to be shared.

“The flipped classrooms model was already formed as early as in 2000,
but it didn’t spread quickly because of the limitations of online
education resources. But the boom of MOOCs in recent years has brought
educators new opportunities to promote the teaching model,” said Chen
Yukun
, a professor at East China Normal University and director of
the MOOC research center
.

“The immediate task for the school alliance is to create more
high-quality online videos, which are necessary education resources for
flipped classrooms,” he said.

However, education official Ni said primary and middle schools should be
careful when promoting such new teaching models

“Unlike high school students who have a certain independence and the
ability to select, the self-learning ability of students in primary and
middle schools is very different,” he said.

The term MOOC was created by Canadian researchers in 2008. George
Siemens of Athabasca University in western Canada developed and taught
the first ever MOOC that year. This form of online courses later becomes
a trend globally.

China Daily February 24,2014 By WANG HONGYI in Shanghai

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