Making online learning more student-centred in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Nanjing

Dong Shaochun, Tom Hubble

Abstract


A major challenge for tertiary education in China today is the requirement to provide an education for progressively increasing numbers of students, with relatively static resources. Enrolments are at an all-time high and growing rapidly.
In contrast, teaching staff and physical resources (such as practical rooms and lecture theatres) have not grown at a comparable rate. Educational institutions are commonly located in urban areas and tend to be concentrated in densely populated
areas which reduces the access to tertiary education for people living in the more remote parts of the country.

In order to deal with these two challenges, tertiary institutions in the People’s Republic of China began to utilise the advantages of online learning around five years ago. One of the useful characteristics of online learning is the ease of access
– educational resources can be uploaded to the Web and then utilised by anyone with a modem and a telephone. These resources can be shared among all people. Learners can access these educational resources at any time and from any place. Online learning is a new tool that can increase our reach, so that we can communicate with a much larger audience and maximise the educational opportunities of people living in the more remote regions. This technology also has the potential to improve the quality of learning and reduce the cost of education.

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