Virtual learning broadens horizon

Updated: 2013-10-02 11:29

By Zhang Yue (China Daily)

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Online courses are getting increasingly popular, Zhang Yue explores their growing appeal in China

Wang Yue, a 25-year-old in Shanghai, keeps shifting between being a teacher during the week and being a student on the weekends, since he learned about "Coursera" a year ago.

At that time, he was teaching in a private English training school in Shanghai and earned a "pretty good salary". But he felt dull and insecure.

"Teaching the same content and skills everyday, and even saying the same jokes every day was not interesting to me," he says. "As time passed, I started to feel a bit anxious and trapped, because I wanted to learn new things."

Virtual learning broadens horizon

Eco-village glass house, where TEDx holds activities and exhibitions for young people from around the world. Wang Ye / For China Daily

Virtual learning broadens horizon

Volunteers and hosts gather after a TEDx speech. Wang Ye / For China Daily

Virtual learning broadens horizon

Soundscape band, composed of young people from various countries with their special national musical instruments. Wang Ye / For China Daily

Having been in the job for two years, he was dying to broaden his knowledge. That was when he was introduced to Coursera, an online open course platform that was set up by two professors from Stanford University in 2012. Not only does the platform provide free courses from prestigious universities from around the world, it also provides a platform for teachers and students to interact with one another.

"My life after work was immediately, amazingly broadened," Wang recalls.

When he logged on to the Coursera website for the first time, he was so thrilled to see the name of the courses that he immediately subscribed to five of them.

But it did not take him long to realize that was too much of a burden.

"Each course came with certain assignments and examinations, and required concentration till the final examination, " he says. "Currently, I am doing two courses, one an introduction to finance and accounting provided by the University of Pennsylvania, and one on teaching for learning.

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