Online learning platform Coursera to offer Chinese-taught courses

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 05 November, 2012, 5:45am

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology will launch what could be the world's first free Chinese-taught courses next year.

The Coursera online learning platform will offer science and technology in China and modern Chinese history, taught by the university professors in English, but with a Putonghua voiceover.

Some Coursera courses now have subtitles in foreign languages such as Russian and Chinese, but none are delivered in Chinese.

Featuring courses by top-tier universities, Coursera has enrolled more than 1.3 million students worldwide.

Professor Pong Ting-chuen, a member of the university's task force on eLearning, pointed to the vast interest worldwide in knowledge about China.

A gastronomy course may be dubbed into Chinese too, he said, and the university may offer business and sustainable development courses later, also in English and Chinese.

More than 14,000 people have already signed up for the gastronomy course, which sheds light on what happens during the process of cooking.

Pong expects a rising trend of mobile learning. "Students will be learning through mobile devices and Facebook 10 years from now," he said. "People will be able to watch a lecture on the MTR."

Coursera founder and Stanford University computer professor Andrew Ng said 35 per cent of the students were from the US, and China was the 10th biggest country for the site in terms of student population. Its most popular course, one on finance offered by the University of Michigan, has an enrolment of 125,000.

Ng's goal is to make higher education accessible to people around the world. He is trying to bring in revenue by offering job placement services, so employers can have students' information with their consent.

The site may also enter into deals with individual universities to offer branded certificates to students who have completed a course.

"Employers may want their employees to go through certain training," he added.