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MOOCs, as a new teaching mode, offer Nanjing University both opportunities and challenges. They provide opportunities for learners all over the world to benefit from superior teaching resources from prestigious universities. At the same time, they bring higher education tremendous challenges in teaching and learning. Confronted with this new teaching mode, Nanjing University embraces the opportunities and the challenges.
In 2014, Nanjing University formally established its partnership with Coursera, a global platform that allows people to take online courses from the world’s top universities. It lays great emphasis on developing MOOCs and provides full support in forms of funding, policy and services.
The Office of Teaching Affairs set up a special MOOC team, and the MOOC project started to run at the Center for Teaching and Learning in September 2014. Regular workshops are held on designing, producing and applying MOOCs, and the university’s faculty members are encouraged to make MOOCs.
In March 2015, Nanjing University successfully launched its first batch of 4 courses on Coursera, which immediately attracted learners all over the world. The event was reported by such national and local media such as Chinese Social Sciences Today and Xinhua Daily. By now, the university has 11 courses on Coursera and has attracted more than 80,000 learners worldwide. Three of these courses, Psychology and Life, Data Processing Using Python, and Operating Systems of Computers, were among the top 10 most popular Chinese courses on Coursera in 2015.
In March 2016, Nanjing University started launching MOOCs on some well-known Chinese platforms such as iCourse/Chinese University MOOC and Xuetangx. The number of learners reached more than 90,000 in less than two months when active interactions between instructors and learners and between learners formed a lively learning environment. In order to introduce Nanjing University to high school students, faculty members are engaged in producing NJU-AP courses, aimed at showing freshmen a big picture of each discipline at the university. On May 20 this year, three NJU-APs were launched on Chinese MOOCs/CAPMOOC to mark the 114th anniversary of the university. These AP MOOCs attracted great attention, with more than 15,000 learners enrolled in less than one month.
MOOCs by Nanjing University are characterized by their high quality, global impact and great practicality. Currently faculty members are exploring ways of making best use of MOOCs with a view to enhancing teachers’ teaching and improving students’ learning. One significant initiative is to incorporate MOOCs into flipped classroom, and another is to produce specialization, a new pedagogical trial based on MOOCs which can be designed either top-down or bottom-up, with a series of mini-courses and capstone projects taught systematically. These new ideas and practices can be effectively combined with those practically efficient pedagogical approaches such as backward design and PBL (problem-based or project-based learning).
With the help of MOOCs, Nanjing University is making its rich educational resources available to both Chinese and English speaking learners around the world.
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