China takes teaching to cloud to ensure learning amid COVID-19

Ding Yasong, People’s Daily
A total of 180 million primary and middle school students in China studied from home in midst of COVID-19 which forced schools across the country to postpone new semesters.
Both high-quality content and platforms were launched in a very short period of time thanks to the efforts made by Chinese education authorities.
A coordination mechanism was established by China’s Ministry of Education (MOE) and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) in an joint effort to launch a national cloud learning platform that is equipped with 7,000 servers and 90 terabytes of bandwidth, and is able to run smoothly with up to 50 million students using it at the same time.
To cater to the needs of students from rural and remote areas, the MOE and the National Radio and Television Administration requested the China Education Network Television to air relevant courses and materials via the latter’s cloud-based classroom 14 hours a day. The program targets first-grade to twelfth-grade pupils.
“The construction of the cloud learning platform and the cloud classrooms is of great historic and practical significance. It is a major initiative targeting more than 100 million Chinese students and their families. Therefore, we must make sure the network is unimpeded and stable,” said Zheng Fuzhi, vice minister of the MOE.
Online teaching isn’t simply spreading the knowledge online or just having students watch the classes on screens. It lays more emphasis on interaction and students’ feedback, and requires course design to be more elaborate and scientific.
Fan Yihua teaches Chinese to third graders at a school in Songjiang district of Shanghai. According to her, there’s a major difference between traditional and online classes – in the classroom there are conversations and interactions, while there’s none when recording online classes.
This situation, she said, requires her to design the courses in a more comprehensive manner, in which she must take into consideration all the difficulties the students might encounter during the classes by fully preparing every word she speaks, every question she raises and every step she guides the students. Besides, she also has to leave enough time for the students to think.
Every teacher in China is working on the ways to maximize the gains and growth of the students in this special period of time and on the special classes.
“Who or what stories impressed you the most in the nationwide fight against COVID-19? What mobilized the healthcare workers to go in harm’s way during the outbreak? What did you learn from the epidemic?” Those were the questions raised by Wang Hongyu, a teacher from a middle school in Puyang, central China’s Henan province on her first online class.
In Gulou district of Fuzhou, south east China’s Fujian province, medical workers from Fujian Provincial Hospital and Fujian Provincial People’s Hospital who went to Hubei for assistance were invited to an online classroom and chatted with the students. They explained to the children what bravery, toughness, unyielding spirit and mutual assistance stand for with their personal experiences.
Online courses are a special option made by the country during the special period, and efforts are ensured to include all students in the program.
Yinjialing is a group of Xinzhu village that locates in the mountains 53 kilometers away from the center of Wanzai county, east China’s Jiangxi province. Due to the harsh geographical conditions, residents there endured poor cell reception, TV signal and network, which also hindered online education for the 15 primary and middle school students there. To solve the problem, the Wanzai branch of the Jiangxi Broadcasting TV Network specifically established a task force, and connected every household in Yinjialing with TV signal and internet in the fastest speed.
In Hongshan Elementary School in Fuzhou, Fujian province, 86 percent of the students are relocated children of migrant workers. The school had a survey for each of the student’s family and offered targeted assistance to the students who had economic difficulties accessing the internet.
Thanks to the cooperation between the education bureau of Tonglu county, Hangzhou, east China’s Zhejiang province and Wasu Digital TV Media Group, students without access to either broadband or digital TV are now offered month long on-demand TV learning service for free.
The cloud classrooms jointly established by teachers and students in the major test of COVID-19 are a reflection of the sense of responsibility and commitment of Chinese education authorities at virous levels, as well as the wisdom and sentiment of Chinese teachers, gaining understanding and support from millions of Chinese families.

A fourth grader attends a cloud class from home in Anqing, east China’s Anhui province, March 2. Huang You’an/People’s Daily Online

more recommended stories