The trend of learning through open online courses has made its way to China as more of the country's top universities unveil public courses, and the first cross-university open class for college students in Shanghai kicked off on Tuesday night.
The city's university course-sharing platform formally began registering students from 30 schools in the municipality, and the course "Introduction to Philosophy," offered by Professor Wang Defeng with Fudan University (FDU), became the first-ever cross-university public course, welcoming 1,072 students Tuesday.
Wang's first lecture was broadcast live online Tuesday. Registered students at other universities could log on to watch it.
"It took quite some effort to register for Wang's class. We call him the Prince of Philosophy," one student wrote on Weibo.
Another student surnamed Zhong, from Shanghai Jiaotong University, told the Global Times that he registered for a course on Western music history offered by the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. In addition to logging on for live classes, students are divided into 40 groups for panel discussions, and guest lecturers will also share their thoughts with the students.
Attempts to open resources at top universities to the public have gained popularity in the past two years. "I have a dream that everyone who wants to go to Peking University can see their wishes come true," said Zhou Qifeng, president of Peking University (PKU), on Tuesday.
As a flagship university in China, PKU is posting lectures by prestigious professors online. "We've produced dozens of episodes and will work hard to increase quality and share it with the public," said Zhou.
"This is a great trend. I love the film class by Professor Dai Jinhua, and I don't need to feel jealous of PKU students anymore," a Beijing-based software engineer surnamed Lin told the Global Times. He added that such courses give people in narrow fields the chance to explore more ideas.