Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Cultural Norms and Blended Learning in China

Greetings from the famous room N101 at the Australian National University in Canberra where Ms. Chen WANG of Beijhang University (Beijing), is speaking on "Blended Learning in China". She started with an overview of the universities in Beijing. She then discussed Singapore, Japan and South Korea. One point what there was extensive support from the South Korean government, but cultural norms for teaching are holding back developments in Japan.

As with Australia the focus of China's development for e-learning is putting in pace the computer infrastructure, rather than teacher education in e-learning.

Ms. WANG then discussed the effect which Confucianism would effect education. Traditional Chinese education emphasizes respect for teachers and elders in general. But this does not preclude student directed learning.

Ms. WANG emphasized that China has hundreds of millions of Internet users, with consumers conformable with using services such as instant messaging and e-commerce.

China has a "Chinese National Top Level Courses Project" to provide course content distributed on-line (this includes more than 3,000 courses in Engineering). However, this content is intended for classroom delivery, not as on-line distance education courses.

As with Australian students, Ms. WANG mentioned that there was resistance to student group work by Chinese students used to traditional learning practices. The students do not want to hear from their fellow students, believing that the teachers should be doing the "teaching".

Ms. WANG also commented that students were used to having comprehensive textbooks and found the step-by-step materials provided by an on-line system as being not in so much depth. This is something I think could be an issue with Australasian students. There are still benefits in having a textbook, even if it is an e-book.

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