The origins of MOOC platforms in China can be traced back to November 2011, when 20 courses from Chinese universities were made available online through the OpenCourseWare platform iCourse. The first MOOC platform in mainland China, XuetangX, was launched in October 2013 by Tsinghua University.
Similarly to MOOC platforms worldwide, Chinese MOOC platforms have seen a surge in both course numbers and enrollments due to the 2020 pandemic. In early 2022, 24 Chinese MOOC platforms offer over 69K MOOCs in Chinese, around twice as many as in 2020.
On March 28, 2022, China’s Ministry of Education announced the “Smart Education of China” initiative and launched the comprehensive website Chinaooc with all MOOC platforms in mainland China.
For some years now, I’ve been interested in the development of Chinese MOOC platforms (read more here). Let’s explore the Chinese MOOC platforms I discovered along the way.
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In October 2013, Tsinghua University along with partner institutions announced the launch of XuetangX, China’s first MOOC platform. Over 5000 courses and programs are offered on the MOOC platform, including live streamings, online degrees, microcredentials, and cohort-based boot camps. XuetangX reached over 80 million users at its 8 anniversary on October 10, 2021.
The platform raised series B funding, moved away from Open edX and redesigned their customized website at the beginning of 2020. In April 2020, it went international and now offers around 470 free English courses for global learners.
Chinese University MOOC
Chinese University MOOC, also often called iCourse, is the fruit of a collaboration between the Chinese internet giant NetEase and the original iCourse learning platform, which was launched in May 2014. The MOOC platform offers over 10000 free university courses with the largest number of nationally-recognized MOOCs. Free digital certificates are automatically available when students pass quizzes and the final exam. In April 2020, iCourse went international and has offers over 400 free English courses for global learners.
Zhihui Shu, which translates to “Wisdom Tree”, was launched in December 2012. It has the particularity of allowing its university partners to share credit-bearing courses with one another, which effectively facilitates academic credit mobility across China. Of a total of 11500+ courses on the platform, over 75% are credit-sharing courses only for on-campus students. Over 600 free courses are open for social learners with free digital certificates. There are also 12 microcredential programs provided in 2022.
In April 2014, Shanghai Jiao Tong University launched CNMOOC, a MOOC platform promoting the integration of MOOCs into China’s on-campus higher education system. The MOOC platform offers over 2700 courses and around 1400 of them provide free digital certificates.
Xue Yin Online
Xue Yin Online, launched in November 2017, was developed by The Open University of China and Chaoxing Group. The purpose of this MOOC platform is to serve as a “credit bank” for vocational skills, facilitating the transfer of credit and the recognition of prior learning across different universities. The MOOC platform offers nearly over 9000 free MOOCs with free digital certificates.
Chinese MOOCs was founded in February 2015 by Peking University in collaboration with the Alibaba Group. Around 133 free courses with free digital certificates are offered on the platform, most of them provided by Peking University.
University Open Online Courses (UOOC) MOOC platform was founded by Shenzhen University in February 2016, subsuming the preexisting MOOC platform from April 2014. 1174 courses are offered free for social learners and 1150 courses offer credit for on-campus students on the platform.
Zhejiang Provincial MOOC Platform
The Zhejiang Institutions of Higher Learning Online Open Course Sharing Platform — or Zhejiang Provincial MOOC Platform for short — is backed by the Education Department of the province of Zhejiang, south of Shanghai. 4155 courses are offered on the platform for over 2.8 million students.
In December 2015, the Department of Education of Aihui District, situated in the northwest of China, launched E-Huixue. Like Zhejiang’s Provincial MOOC Platform, the purpose of E-Huixue is to serve as a regional repository for online courses. Nearly 2106 MOOCs with free digital certificates are offered on the platform.
Chongqing University Open Online Learning Platform (CQOOC), was established by the Ministry of Education in Chongqing (a municipality in southwest China) in June 2016. Around 3617 courses, mostly from universities and colleges in Chongqing, are offered on the platform.
Rong You Xue Tang
Rong You Xue Tang is the new name of the former Beijing MOOC Research Association platform. It was founded in 2016 by Renmin University of China together with several Beijing-based universities. Over 193 free courses are provided on the platform, some of which are credit-eligible courses.
Ulearning was launched by the online learning company Ulearning in May 2015. 1915 courses are provided on the platform.
ICVE MOOC College
ICVE was built for professional education by Higher Education Press in 2014. 4615 free courses are offered on the platform, over 80% of them providing free certificates.
ICC was launched by Higher Education Press in 2016. More than 3537 courses from 200 universities are offered by the platform.
ErYa was launched in January 2015 by the Chaoxing Group, an edtech corporation based in Beijing. The MOOC platform offers around 506 free courses in liberal arts from humanities to creative thinking.
Gaoxiaobang was established by a subsidiary of Huike Group, a company focused on the upskilling and reskilling of professionals in tech-related domains. The platform was launched in September 2015, and it currently offers close to 430 free courses.
PMPHMOOC was established in 2015 by the medical publisher People’s Medical Publishing House in partnership with medical schools and academic institutions across China. It provides over 313health-related MOOCs in 10 subjects— for instance, in anatomy and biochemistry.
UMOOCs is a Chinese MOOC platform for studying foreign languages. The platform was founded by Beijing Foreign Studies University in December 2017, and it is affiliated to the Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press, a publishing company dedicated to all facets of foreign language study in China. It offers over 270 free courses with certificates covering 10 languages.
iLab-X is a MOOC platform for virtual simulation experiments launched by Higher Education Press in 2017. Around 3250 virtual simulation experiments are provided on the platform.
MOEC is a MOOC platform for virtual simulation experiment education in medicine, launched by the company Mengoo in 2020. The MOOC platform has provided around 700 courses in medicine for over 100 university medical schools in China.
Educoder is a MOOC platform for computer science and programming that was launched in July 2016. There are over 320 free courses and over 2000 free programming exercises for social learners. The MOOC platform also allows its verified users to create their own courses, exercises, and online classrooms.
eWant is a MOOC platform that was launched by National Chiao Tung University in 2013. National Chiao Tung University is one of Taiwan’s leading public research universities, located in Hsinchu, Taiwan. It hosts more than 2500 courses from over 90 different universities. The goal of this MOOC platform is to educate the global Chinese speaking population.
ShareCourse was founded by Taiwan’s National Tsing Hua University in September 2012. 90 institutions contributed over 600 courses to the MOOC platform. About 150 of them are free.
Openedu.tw is a MOOC platform from Taiwan. The MOOC platform is based on Open edX and offers over 648 courses in subjects including computer science, business management, humanities and art.