Chinese MOOCs – an online course platform for the global Chinese-speaking audience and anyone interested in Chinese language and culture – was recently jointly launched by Alibaba and Peking University, one of the foremost Chinese seats of education.
On the platform there are currently more than 20 pre-recorded courses provided by Peking University. A handful of colleges in Greater China have signed up, and it is expected more universities will join the program.
Like Coursera, all the courses on Chinese MOOCs are for free and certificates are offered for the completion of some courses.
Chinese MOOCs is similar to XuetangX.com, a MOOC site launched in October 2013 by Tsinghua University, another top Chinese university, on top of Open edX, the open source initiative by online course site edX. XuetangX has fourteen universities in Greater China on board.
There are a few more MOOC sites in China, including Cnmooc.org which is operated by Shanghai Jiaotong University, and icourse163.com, jointly established by icourses.cn, a state-backed course site for higher education, and Chinese internet company NetEase.
NetEase also operates a Chinese version of Coursera, translating video courses on the latter into Chinese and hosting them in China. The translated courses are offered for free while NetEase pays for translation and cloud storage. Guokr.com, offering popular science content, reached similar partnership with Coursera in late 2013.
Chinese MOOCs is another effort in online education by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group. The company launched Taobao Tongxue (“schoolmate” in Chinese) in 2013, enabling teachers to give live courses or sell recorded courses and other formats of educational materials.
Several other big Chinese companies, including the aforementioned NetEase, have invested considerably in online education. Tencent, which is dominant in China’s social network and gaming markets, enabled giving and selling classes through its QQ Instant Messaging tool in 2013. The company also established a joint venture with New Oriental Education & Technology, a leading private education company, to develop educational apps and services.
Editing by Mike Cormack (@bucketoftongues)