Chinese Opensource OpenCourseWare
Continuing on the subject of open access educational resources in China, there are two groups that lie on opposite ends of the education technology spectrum, that I wanted to bring into the picture. The first is the China Open Resources for Education (CORE) which recently organized the 3rd Chinese Open Education Conference 2006 in Xi’an, China, Sept. 6-8. Program with speakers and topics is here. CORE was founded in 2003 by Dr.
Fun-Den Wang, a Chinese-American and Professor Emeritus of the Colorado
School of Mines, with support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the International Engineering Technology Foundation, and early support from MIT. From its website:
Its objective is to introduce advanced courseware from MIT and other
top-ranked universities around the world by using the latest
information technology, teaching methodologies, instructional content,
and other resources to improve educational quality in China. At the
same time, CORE will share advanced Chinese courseware and other
quality resources with universities internationally.
These advanced Chinese courses, called Chinese Quality OpenCourseWare (CQOCW), are chosen from among CORE member universities and include 3 levels of courses (national, provincial, and university), though I’m not sure what the key differences are. Like MIT’s OCW, the courses offer a mix of resources including syllabi, reading lists, lecture notes, homework assignments, and testing materials. Here is a list, in English, of participating schools with links to their CQOCW pages which are all in Chinese.
CORE is taking on another great project, the translation of Chinese Open Courses into English. It announced in June of this year that the following CQOCW courses had been selected to be translated:
TraditionalYarn-Dyeing Techniques by Prof. Tian Qing (Tsinghua University)
History of Chinese Ancient Architecture by Prof. Wang Guixiang (Tsinghua University)
China Geography by Prof. Wang Jing’ai (Beijing Normal University)
Organic Chemistry by Prof. Gao Zhanxian (Dalian University of Technology)
Inorganic Chemistry by Prof. Meng Changgong (Dalian University of Technology)
Analytical Chemistry by Prof. Liu Zhiguang (Dalian University of Technology)
Prosthodontics by Prof. Chao Yonglie & Prof. Wan Qianbing (Sichuan University)
Cell Biology by Prof. Zou Fangdong & Prof. Wang Xizhong (Sichuan University)
Green Chemistry by Prof. Hu Changwei (Sichuan University)
History of Contemporary Chinese Literature by Prof. Wu Xiuming (Zhejiang U)
Traditional Chinese Culture by Prof. Fang Guanghua (Northwest University)
The Constitution of China by Prof. Han Dayuan & Prof. Hu Jinguang (Renmin U of China)
We’ll have to keep a lookout on the CORE homepage.
The second organization is the Opensource Opencourseware Protocol System (OOPS) 开放式课程原型计划, here in English, [update: the official site is] here in simplified Chinese (
if you can read Chinese choose the latter–the English doesn’t seem as active or complete. Update: Grace Lin notes that the English site only deals with a small part of the OOPS project and is not representative of the whole). This Taiwanese-mainland Chinese group takes a bottom-up, volunteer approach to translating open course materials from MIT, Utah State University, and other institutions. Volunteers “adopt” courses or even specific lectures that they want to translate. According to OOPS materials, the group began in 2004 and has recruited over twelve hundred volunteers from fifteen countries and
regions. Over forty courses are completely translated, with several
hundred more on the way. Here’s an example of an MIT OCW course on Introduction to Urban Design and Development, which has been OOPSed. As founder Luc Chu and researcher Grace Meng-fen Lin noted in their talk, “The Power of Volunteers: Effectiveness and Sustainability through Lessons Learned from OOPS,” at Utah State University’s OpenEd2005 Conference:
The Internet may be one of the most important tools in bringing world
knowledge into [the Great China] region; however, language “remains a significant
barrier discouraging users from venturing out farther into the
cyberworld” (Liu, Day, Sun, & Wang, 2002). For example, only 9.3%
of China’s Internet users visit English language web sites (CNNIC,
2005). In a different survey, when asked what language-based web site
they most frequently visit in addition to those in Chinese, 33% of
Taiwan’s Internet users indicated that they do not visit any other
language-based web sites (yam.com, 2005). It is evident that language
differences pose one of the biggest obstacles for knowledge sharing in
today’s information age. OOPS is a bottom-up model to solve this
As you can imagine, it’s a fairly technical process to figure out how to get different computers in different places able to download video and edit new subtitles. The OOPS FAQ has a detailed description of software and translation how-to’s. But on the homepage Luc Chu, OOPS’ founder, gives a more succinct explanation of the basic process to new volunteers:
with the video. And wowla, The video got it’s own subtitle, and the subtitle are still free to change!
Taiwanese uber-volunteer Grace Meng-fen Lin has been writing about the process of growing and maintaining the OOPS community for her doctoral dissertation in Education at University of Houston. In a September 2005 paper in the International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, she describes a few of the key challenges from the Chinese learner/user side, which apply to materials in Chinese but especially for those in English:
problems have been raised continually by dissatisfied learners – the
lack of depth in course content and the lack of access to referenced
materials (Lin, 2005, in press). Therefore, when they come to the web
site and find only a list of books, for instance, they are disappointed
and ask “where can I find downloadable materials?”…
one hand, it seems that some of the self-learners still feel a need for
the full-blown materials. An outline of the syllabus with readings and
assignments does not seem enough for them to start the learning
process. On the other hand, open materials are bounded by copyright law
and learners in developing countries may not have access to those
peripheral materials. In this regard, how far can open courseware and
sharing go when access to adjunct materials ultimately is still
restricted by copyright and financial factors?
8 comments on “Chinese Opensource OpenCourseWare”
1. Can you explain what do you mean “lie on opposite ends of the education technology spectrum”?
2. Have you visited some of the so-call CQOCW? Since you read Chinese, why don’t follow some of the links and give your evaluation of its quality? I would be curious to hear your opinion.
3. OOPS does not have an official English site. The oops.editme site exists only for the transcription project, which is a very small part of OOPS. That is why it appears low traffic.
This is for now. Thanks.
Grace — thanks for the comments. What I meant by “opposite ends of ed tech spectrum” (it wasn’t phrased particularly well so I’m not surprised you ask about it) is that these represent two different approaches to ed tech. The first is topdown, Ministry of Education, rated standardized courses, member universities, and so on. The second, your OOPS, is bottom up, all-volunteer, and therefore much looser in terms of membership.
2. I did try to visit several of the linked CQOCW and yet could not manage to access any of the courses themselves. I didn’t have more time to spend…but would love to hear any others’ evaluations of the courses’ accessibility and quality.
3. Thanks for the clarification on the English sit oops.editme. I’ll edit the post.
Yes, going back to point#2, I, too, would love to hear anybody’s (anyone?)evaluation of CQOCW’s accessibility and quality.
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