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Internet is the new classroom for life-long learning

By Liu Wei (chinadaily.com.cn) Updated: 2016-03-08 15:17

Internet is the new classroom for life-long learning

A student learns from an online open course in a middle school in Changsha, Hunan province on Nov 28, 2014. [Photo/CFP] 

Watching a video of TED talk or an open class on the Internet, or registering for an online course to learn a new language or hobby, are trending. You'll be seen as behind the times if your experience of the above is zero.

Online education is growing. More than 1,000 online education start-ups have been established since 2014 in China,according to news.pedaily.cn.

It is one of the most popular fields where entrepreneurs and venture capitalists flock together on account of the absence of geographic restrictions, a high degree of standardization, and economies of scale from reuse of content.

MOOC, or Massive Online Open Courses, is one of the platforms where people can register for free and have access to all online courses provided by universities worldwide.

According to its official website, MOOC courses have assessment and examination just like a regular offline courses do. People signing up can participate in video illustration, discussion, submitting assignments, asking questions and a final exam.

Once a course completed, users can receive an electronic certificate or pay for a paper copy, which are now acknowledged by many employers.

The Ministry of Education said MOOC "has enlarged the time and space of teaching, fired learners' interest, helped more people benefit from high-quality educational resources and accelerated reform in many aspects of teaching".

MOOC has gained popularity in China since 2013 and some universities, including Tsinghua University and Peking University have established their own MOOC platforms.

In April last year, the Ministry of Education released guidelines to encourage higher education institutes, especially those with strengths in specific majors and information technology, to establish MOOCs that focus on liberal education, public courses and the core curricula of some majors.

The ministry will select from current MOOC platforms and encourage them to share data and teaching resources as a way of creating an online teaching and learning space which benefits life-long learners.

MOOC, originating in the United States, has become popular around the world with 2012 being referred to as "the first year of the MOOC era".

The estimated market size of global online education in 2015 has reached about $47.9 billion and will be increased by $2.5 billion until the year 2020, according to a report released by research firm Ambient Insight.

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