TWO Shanghai universities have teamed up with Coursera, a United States-based website that offers open, online and free courses for learners from all walks of life.
The local varsities were following in the footsteps of world-class universities such as Yale University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University in the US.
Shanghai Jiao Tong and Fudan universities said they had signed cooperation agreements with Coursera to offer courses lectured by elite professors in both Mandarin and English.
The courses feature short videos and interactive quizzes with instant feedback. Students can watch the videos on their laptops, mobile phones and even tablet PCs whenever they are free.
About 2.7 million people worldwide have signed up for these massive, open online courses - known as MOOCs.
"The online courses will enable students around the globe to learn whatever they are interested in and receive world-class education anytime and anywhere," said Huang Zhen, Vice President of Shanghai Jiao Tong University.
Huang said this new way of learning was the biggest revolution in education history since printing was invented. He said universities should accept and quickly adapt to this new concept and prepare for the future.
Kay Lee, an 18-year-old graduate from the Shanghai American School, said such online education was a good opportunity for people who wanted to study certain courses that were not easily available in the institution of their choice.
"It could be beneficial to people who are very busy in their daily lives but want to continue being proactive in their learning process.
"I think I would consider using Coursera because of its interesting course selection and the wide variety of choices it offers," Lee told Shanghai Daily.
Huang said online courses can help narrow the education quality gap between different regions as students can interact with world-class professors.
Source: Shanghai Daily