Electrified education opens bigger window for students

Students from Xinxu primary school have an online class, Nov. 15, 2019. Photo from http://www.yongzhou.gov.cn/

“What does a dung beetle look like?” A student asked Long Zhongwu, a teacher from Xinxu primary school in Lanshan county, Yongzhou, central China’s Hunan province during a Chinese class when the latter read a text about bugs.

Long was obviously well prepared for this. He slid two blackboards in the classroom to the sides, and then a big screen of a computer just appeared, presenting a video clip of dung beetles carrying their food. The students soon had a clear understanding of the text.

Since 2011, Lanshan county has started equipping local schools with electronic teaching devices, and 65-inch all-in-one PCs were allocated to Long’s school four years ago. “The computer eased my pressure and made teaching more efficient,” Long told the People’s Daily.

Long, 52, has been teaching at the school for nearly 30 years, where he’s responsible for teaching students in a grade. It means that all the courses of the grade are taught by him.

However, he’s not good at every course, and in particular, music. “I don’t sing well, so I’m afraid that I might misguide the students,” he said.

With the computer, Long is able to download free courseware from the website of Hunan’s basic education resource, which not only saves his time used to be spent on blackboard-writing, but also enriches the content of the classes.

“Every time I come across materials that are abstract or difficult, I would prepare pictures and videos in advance to make the classes more attractive, so that the students would also be more curious,” he introduced. The computer also relieves his burden on teaching music, as the students can now have online music classes with it.

Li Zixuan, a student of the Xinxu primary school has been studying from home since the COVID-19 epidemic broke out this year. According to the requirement of the school, Li has watched an online class that encouraged children to share the daily chores of their families.

When Li’s mother was about to start spring ploughing this year, Li volunteered to offer help, which surprised the mother very much.

Li’s father works out of town, so her mother tries very hard to educate her. However, Li doesn’t always listen to her mother.

“What’s magical about the online class?” That’s a question puzzled the mother very much. Later, after she watched it herself, she was finally convinced that the class was very useful.

The online classes launched by Hunan province also include moral education, psychological health, safety education, science, as well as culture and art. These recorded classes are aired through Hunan’s education TV channel and online platforms.

The online classes are not about just reading what’s written on the books. They invite representatives from different sectors of the society to introduce their stories. “The classes are just like TV dramas and entertainment shows, and the children love to watch them,” said Guo Xiaofang, head of the online class program.

The online class program is largely welcomed by Duan Shengwem, principal of the Xinxu primary school, as around 2/3 of the students from his school are left-behind children whose parents are working out of town. “The program will more or less make them less lonely and lead them to pursue the goodness,” said Duan.

The education department of Yongzhou has promoted the application of internet in its schools since 2015, launching distance education to fill the gap between urban and rural schools. At present, the Xinxu primary school is installing cameras and microphones, and will soon be connected to online education network.

“When every classroom is equipped with touch-screen computers with access to the internet, we will be connected with the outside world. By then, our students may have classes here given by famous teachers from other places,” Duan noted, adding that distance education also offers a channel for teachers to improve themselves.

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