Professional philosophy news

The popularity of free American courses in China

Shelly Kagan (Yale) and Michael Sandel (Government, Harvard) have made lectures for their courses (“Death” and “Justice” respectively) available for free on-line, and they’re very popular in China. The Chronicle has the story.

The most recent Google Analytics numbers, from July 2009 to January of this year, show that Mr. Kagan’s videos on the Open Yale Courses Web site were receiving 3,000 hits per week from China…

As for Mr. San­del, he was named the most influential foreign figure of the year by China Newsweek, a state-run magazine, last year and commanded huge audiences at lectures he gave during a recent trip to China. Students staked out the lec­ture hall hours in ad­vance, hop­ing to get a chance to hear him speak. In fact, when Mr. San­del gives lec­tures based on the course, he needs to change the ex­am­ples he uses be­cause Chi­nese stu­dents are al­ready so fa­mil­iar with the orig­i­nal ma­te­ri­al.

The enormous pop­u­lar­i­ty of Amer­i­can open course­ware is starting to influence Chinese higher education, says Ms. Lei… On­line and traditional courses in China are pro­fes­sor-cen­tered rather than stu­dent-cen­tered, and con­sid­ered “bor­ing” by Chi­nese stu­dents like Ms. Yue, who en­joyed Mr. San­del’s course in large part be­cause of his en­gag­ing lec­tur­ing style. Many Chinese students who contact Mr. Ka­gan com­ment on his informal teach­ing style, the professor says.



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