Major challenges Chinese MOOCers have on English platforms

This blog summarises some major challenges Chinese MOOCers face when using English MOOC platforms. The following blog will list out my proposed solutions.
Accessibility be aware of slow page
  • Website loading – Sometimes it takes much time to load a MOOC website landing page. That automatically prevents people exploring the platform further.
  • Video streaming – There are many cries from people who were struggling with lecture videos streaming. When that happens, quite a few people assume the particular site is blocked by the government. The serious learners seek advise what to do. Meanwhile I am pretty sure many casual learners give up at this point. 
  • Great Firewall of China – Some sites blocked include Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, wordpress, BBC, CNN, NY Times, etc. Google is also pretty unstable. The means (1) any course/assignment materials from these sources are instantly unaccessible. (2) any community formed via Facebook or Google excludes a Chinese learner.
I dont understandLanguage – Language is another huge barrier. Learners with language difficulty cannot comprehend content without supports. Without the foundation of sufficient understanding, people will not reach the higher-order of learning such as reflection, application, evaluation and creation.
  • Lecture content – Learning new content online via a second language is challenging. One needs strong self-discipline to carry on. 
  • Subtitle –  Some people prefer not to have subtitle while some people find it very useful. 
  • Assignment – Some courses have content translated but such effort is not done for course assignment. 
  • Forum discussion – The concern of language also makes learners shy away from forum discussions. 
a lonerCommunity – Apart from technical accessibility issues and language issues, there are also cultural and demographic reasons why Chinese learners find it intimidating to participate in an English MOOC community.
  • The perception that learning comes from teachers & learning is an individual process – therefore learners will not see participating in peer interaction (such as forum discussion) as part of the learning process.
  • A much younger learner segment – according to a Chinese survey, more than 60% of Chinese MOOC learners are between 18-25. The average global student profile shows 11% of learners belongs to such age bucket. A younger student might find it intimidating to interact with a more mature, unknown adult socially.
Having said that, an independent Chinese language community becomes THE go to place for Chinese learners. Whenever one has questions to ask, experience to share, stories to tell, one goes there instead of reaching out to the English MOOC platform. I named it as the MOOC China Town. 
help meExtra support
  • Course recommendation – Many people asked for course recommendation either to learn out ofinterest or learn to acquire knowledge and skills
  • Study buddy – Many people asked IN CHINESE for learners who take the same course as study buddies.

These are some fundamental challenges for English MOOCs (cMOOCs and xMOOCs) to prevail in the mass Chinese market. However from an optimistic view, a problem means an opportunity. So I promise a more uplifting blog next time addressing opportunities.


6 thoughts on “Major challenges Chinese MOOCers have on English platforms

  1. JJCohen

    So this is bad news. I’m developing the “Mini Medical School” as an online course available to anyone. It attempts to explain to people with no background in medicine what modern medical science is about. Its main learning mode is multimedia videos, which we though to host on Youtube since it’s easy to use and has excellent performance. But if you can’t see it in China, that’s an issue. Do you know of a site that isn’t blocked? Vimeo?

    • Hi, Professor John, I wil write a separate on which video sharing websites instructors as you can try. I can make a menu how to upload videos on Chinese version of youtube and send to you separately.

  2. At Charles Darwin University in Australia we are developing a bi-lingual (English and Mandarin) MOOC on Accounting. What suggestions do you offer us?

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