Similar to MOOC platforms worldwide, Chinese MOOC providers have also seen a surge in both course numbers and enrollments due to the 2020 pandemic. Nowadays, 24 platforms offer over 52K MOOCs in the Chinese language, more than double the number in 2019.
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 back in October 2013 by Tsinghua University.
In 2020, after postponing the start of the new semester in January, China’s Ministry of Education endorsed a list of online learning platforms that support free online teaching and learning for universities.
For some years now, I have been interested in the development of Chinese MOOC platforms (read more here). Let’s explore the Chinese MOOC providers I discovered along the way.
In October 2013, Tsinghua University along with partner institutions announced the launch of XuetangX, China’s first MOOC platform. Over 3500 courses and programs, including 10 online degree programs and 4 microcredential programs are offered on the platform.
The platform raised series B funding, moved away from Open edX and redesigned their customized website at the beginning of 2020. In April, it went international and now offers around 400 free English courses for global learners.
In response to the pandemic, XuetangX started to provide free credit-eligible courses and free SPOC services through Rain Classroom for universities.
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 platform offers 9228 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.
During the pandemic, iCourse provided 3900+ free credit-eligible courses for universities, and free SPOC tools and services for teachers. The initiative was used by 1300+ universities, 500K teachers, and 9M students from February to April, 2020. In April, iCourse went international with around 320 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 8330 courses on the platform, over 75% are credit-sharing courses only for on-campus students. Over 1400 free courses are open for social learners with free digital certificates. There are also 5 microcredential programs, 4 of which were newly launched this year.
During the pandemic, 4200 free credit-sharing courses on the platform were shared by 2131 universities to support online learning in the 2020 Spring semester.
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 platform offers over 2022 courses with 990 of them providing free digital certificates. 178 credit-eligible courses and 5 specializations from IBM were offered in the 2020 Fall semester. A new microcredential Artificial Intelligence Technology and Application is provided on the platform.
Since 30 January 2020, CNMOOC has provided over 300 ongoing free online courses, free SPOC services for universities.
Xue Yin Online, launched in November 2017, was developed by The Open University of China and Chaoxing Group. Its purpose 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 platform offers nearly 5948 free MOOCs with free digital certificates, over 700 credit-eligible courses and 4 new microcredentials.
Since 2 February 2020, Xue Yin Online has started to provide 3464 MOOCs on the platform as credit-bearing courses through Chaoxing’s SPOC mobile application Xuexitong.
Chinese MOOCs was founded in February 2015 by Peking University in collaboration with the Alibaba Group. Around 125 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. 1029 courses and 24 training camps are offered on the platform. Most courses are free for social learners and 963 courses offer credit for on-campus students.
During the pandemic, UOOC Online provided 418 free credit courses and SPOC services to universities as of February 17.
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. 3863 courses are offered on the platform.
The platform has initiated the evaluation of provincial MOOCs since 2015 and promoted credit course sharing among universities in Zhejiang Province since 2017. During the pandemic, more than 1208 credit courses were shared in the 2020 Spring semester.
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 1478 MOOCs with free digital certificates are offered on the platform.
In response to the pandemic, the platform has started to provide 258 ongoing courses with free certificates since 31 January 31 2020.
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 3600 courses, mostly from universities and colleges in Chongqing, are offered on the platform.
The platform started to provide over 2000 free online courses and SPOC services from February 3 during the pandemic.
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 173 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. 1549 courses are provided on the platform.
ICVE was built for professional education by Higher Education Press in 2014. 1053 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 2842 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 480 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 363 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 267 health-related MOOCs in 10 subjects— for instance, in anatomy and biochemistry.
The platform started to provide free online courses for on-campus students from February 10, 2020 in response to the pandemic.
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 an online learning platform for virtual simulation experiments launched by Higher Education Press in 2017. Around 2000 virtual simulation experiments are provided on the platform. Since 10 February, it has been providing free services for virtual simulation experiments for universities during the pandemic.
MOEC is a platform for virtual simulation experiment education in medicine, launched by thecompany Mengoo in 2020. The platform has provided around 600 courses in 22 subjects in medicine for over 100 university medical schools.
Educoder is an online learning platform for computer science and programming that was launched in July 2016. There are over 200 free courses and over 2000 free programing exercises for social learners. The platform also allows its verified users to create their own courses, exercises, and online classrooms.
eWant was founded by National Chiao Tung University of Taiwan in October 2013. 1900 courses are provided on the platform in 2020. All courses have a fixed open period and 90% of them are free to enroll.
ShareCourse was founded by Taiwan’s National Tsing Hua University in September 2012. 90 institutions contributed over 780 courses to the platform. About 229 of them are free.
Openedu was developed in Taiwan and has been maintained by the Chinese Open Education Consortium since 2015. The platform is based on Open edX and offers over 531 courses in subjects including computer science, business management, and humanities and art.