Education has always been a strong focus for China, coming from a culture that promotes the virtues of hard work and good study. With the advances in technologies and the growing motivation for students to pursue higher education, China has the resources and the drive to incorporate online learning into its college education programs.
However, China’s need for educational reform is impeding its ability to easily adapt its college courses to the online community. Though in the past China has placed as the top country in international standardized testing, its education is geared more towards memorization and not toward interactive learning and problem-solving—the major characteristics of online education courses.
But China may soon have a model on how to adapt its education infrastructure to accommodate online learning with the recent advances in online education in the United States. In many ways, China looks to the United States as a model in education reform. China can learn from the United States how to educate new workers in the world of technology and international connections and may be able to take some ideas from U.S. online education practices.
Online education has been growing in the United States for some time and is beginning to come into the limelight in education reform discussions, providing what some feel may be an avenue to a solution to the extremely high tuition rates in higher education. Many schools—such as Vista Online Colleges, whose “offline” campuses are based in the Southwest United States—are providing opportunities for students to earn their degrees online at their own pace, no matter where they live. This option is becoming more and more popular for working students and for students outside of the United States, who now have an opportunity to get an education that may have been impossible before.
For Chinese students, online educational programs can provide an alternate means of getting a degree that would allow them to stay at home in China while still pooling knowledge from all over the world. This would be beneficial to China’s infrastructure, as more students could choose to stay home and support their local economies rather than study—and possibly work—in other countries. And with new online education options for foreign learners, some online schools may be able to provide lessons in Chinese, an option that would greatly benefit Chinese students who are not fluent in English.
Perhaps one of the best resources for China to adapt more online schooling options is a recent advancement in online competency-based testing, which tests students on their knowledge and ability to apply their learning. This could help China in its transition from test-based teaching that emphasizes rote memorization into a program that emphasizes problem-solving and application of practices, but which still provides educators with a way to measure student success. With new options for education reform and growing technological resources, China may be at a good place to step into the online education community.