Friday, June 01, 2007

E-Learning in China

Today we visited Beijing Normal University (BNU) and had a discussion with representatives from their Continuing Education department that handles e-learning. They have 30,000 students studying in the Continuing Ed department and most of those take some (or only) e-learning classes.

BNU is ranked #8 overall of the 701 Chinese universities. They are now a comprehensive university with roots back over 100 years as a teacher's college.

Some of the more interesting comments were:

  • In e-learning they have about a 70-80% degree completion rate. This far exceeds the degree completion rate in the U.S. but falls far short of the face-to-face degree completion rate at BNU where 99% of the students finish a degree within four years of starting (that's what they said, so I believe it).
  • Only students who score in the top 20% on the college entrance exam can get into Chinese Universities, and this includes departments like Continuing Ed through distance learning. Therefore 80% of the college-eligible students don't get the privilege of going to Chinese higher education institution.
  • Only the top students (of the top 20%) get into the traditional face-to-face programs, then the next tier of students get into Continuing Ed and take the e-learning courses. The school officials can't imagine why any student would pass up the F2F opportunity by choosing e-learning instead.
  • E-learning in China is clearly viewed as being inferior, which is largely, but not completely explained by the lower caliber of students who get into the e-learning programs in the first place. Still, e-learning is viewed there as an inferior way to learn.


Anonymous said...

Hi Barry,
Desire2Learn recently hosted a group of Chinese delegates who were visiting Canada as part of the Strengthening Capacity of Basic Education in Western China (SCBEWC) Project. This is a CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency) funded project that is being carried out in partnership with Agriteam Canada Consulting Ltd. (Canadian Executing Agency), Alberta Learning, Athabasca University, University of Alberta and the University of Calgary. SCBEWC focuses on how to improve distance education in impoverished, remote areas of China. Desire2Learn was honored to offer several presentations to our Chinese visitors with the goal of helping to meet the following objectives of the SCBEWC project:
>To gain an understanding of how business and education work together to improve the practice of teaching and enhancing student learning with specific focus on effective use of LMS/LCMS.
>To expose Chinese participants to learning management systems used in Canada that provide professional development to teachers in remote or rural areas.
>To share the systems Canada has in place to support a collaborative learning education community (Web-based seminars and classes, downloadable CD-ROM and video content, live instruction in classroom settings online, online forums and chats)
>To provide first-hand examples of how Canadian institutions distribute, manage and assess educational programs taking into consideration the diverse learning needs of Canadian teachers, in various areas of the country using an efficient, fast and low cost system.

I thought you might be interested in learning more about this project:

Let me know if you're interested in any additional information and I can put you in touch with a couple of project leads.

Cara Scott
Desire2Learn Inc.
Community Coordintor

Anonymous said...

Do you think they might be interested in non-degree courses, focused on lifestyle type courses? We are currently looking for partners like that in China.We currently operate from Belgium.

kind regards,
Derek KOch

European Academy

Barry Dahl said...

Hello Derek,

My sense from visiting there a few times is that there is definitely an opportunity for just about any kind of educational program.

As you are probably aware, the national government keeps pretty tight reins on the educational system in China. What you consider to be "lifestyle" curriculum might include many things that government would not want taught in the schools. In other words, their ideas about lifestyle and your ideas might be very different. You do need to have government approval, either directly or indirectly through an approved partnership with a university, before you will have any opportunity to operate in China.

I suggest looking for partners in the less populated areas, since most of the schools in the largest cities already have over a hundred international partners. Smaller cities (less than 2-3 million people typically have far fewer foreign people knocking on their doors.

Best, Barry

Anonymous said...


What about Corporate elearning in China?