China Starts Online classes to Have Power

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What would you think if you saw a class you’ve wanted to take for the longest time and it turned out to be only what your country wanted you to know? How would that make you feel? That is exactly what happened to this 29-year-old lawyer from Mexico City, Karla Cabrera. She came across a course she has wanted to take which happened to be about a Chinese revolutionary leader, Mao Zedong. Cabrera loves the Chinese History, and hoped that the class will fill in the missing details about the ruthless political battles that happened when Mao was ruling.

When Cabrera started the course on edX, which is a popular platform owned by Massachusetts of Technology and Harvard, she was disheartened. The class opened with a Chinese patriotic video message. As the course continued one, there was little to no talk about Mao’s mistakes, and it seemed to be confined to the Communist side of the store. While on the other hand, the professor of the course was eager to impersonate Mao, dressing up in a tunic and referring to Maoism as “magic bullet” for the party.

Over the recent years, China is seeking to extend its authority and gone great lengths to promote its values, culture, and building media operations overseas. Most recent tool have been online course, which is a growing industry that promises access to students all around the globe.

The course that Cabrera took was one of more than a hundred that edX and other top platforms by central Chinese universities. They have classes on architecture, philosophy, computer science, and much more. However, a handful of the subjects is deemed politically sensitive to China, such as law or international relations, which Chinese professors must follow the party’s views.

Chinese universities are trying to expand their offers and have a global audience by spending thousands of dollars for catchy videos and translating them to many languages. They are telling instructors to leave behind their boring lecturing styles and embrace the content they are teaching about and grab the student’s attention.

Despite China’s academic freedom, the efforts they are putting into their courses are convincing students overseas that their courses are rigorous and worth the time. It puts the online education providers in a tight position, forcing them to keep a good balance between allowing academic freedom and maintaining the standards for the courses.


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