The popularity of free American courses in China
October 2, 2012
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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.