Confucius Institutes Develop Information Technology to Help with the Promotion and Introduction of the “MOOC” Model

The 8th Confucius Institute Conference was held at the Beijing National Convention Center on December 7. With a topic of “Reviewing the Past and Looking Forward Towards the Future” and in looking at pattern through case exchanges and discussions, this conference provided a platform for the sharing of experiences and exchanging information among global Confucius Institutes (classrooms). The MOOC model is expected to be introduced to Confucius Institutes as a method to help further promote the Chinese language and Chinese culture.

Yuan Guiren, the Minister of the Ministry of Education, presided over the opening ceremony and Vice Prime Minister and Chairman of the Confucius Institute Council Liu Yandong delivered the keynote speech. She concluded by sharing four highlights relating to the development of the Confucius Institute in 2013: first, the Confucius Institute formulated and implemented mid- and long-term development plans and explicated the overall objectives and key tasks for 2012 through 2020; second, the team construction of teachers for Confucius Institute has made new progress; third, the “Confucius China Studies Program” has been put into effect and more than 70 young people from roughly 30 countries received subsidies to visit China to study; and fourth, the Confucius Institute U.S. Center and the Confucius Institute Latin America Center were respectively established in the state of Washington in the United States and San Diego in Chile in order to promote exchanges and contact with other Confucius Institutes (classrooms) more effectively and rapidly. With regards to the development direction of Confucius Institutes (classrooms) in 2014, Ms. Liu Yandong pointed out that in the new year, the Confucius Institute’s headquarters needs to work on improving the teaching level of its Chinese language teachers and strengthen the foundation of its local teachers; deepen the connection of Chinese-foreign cooperation and boost Chinese-foreign cultural and educational exchanges; create culture brand that enhance the cohesion and attraction of Confucius Institutes, in addition to continuing to support the activities of “Confucius Institute Day;” and strengthen the team construction of administrators at Confucius Institutes.

Vice Prime Minister and Chairman of Confucius Institute Council Liu Yandong delivering the keynote speech

In order to increase the scale of Chinese language and culture teaching at Confucius Institutes (classrooms), The Director’s Forum: “Sharing of Confucius Institutes’ Best Practices” set up a special sub-forum titled ” Confucius Institutes and MOOC” in order to discuss the use of information technology, including online classes. As part of this sub-forum, university presidents and deans of Confucius Institutes from China, America, Britain, Canada, South Africa, Sweden, etc, shared their experiences in understanding and attempting to improve the MOOC model. The president of the Open University of China, Yang Zhijian, introduced the achievements had at the Open University of China as it relates to MOOC model trends. Using cloud computing as a basis to build the cloud platform, Yang has built an online learning environment, with students at the center, that serves the teaching and development of Confucius Institutes. The platform has received overwhelming attention from the participants of the forum. At the beginning of this month when British Prime Minister David Cameron was visiting China, the Open University of China and the Open University of Britain signed a cooperation agreement. Both sides will engage in specific and deep cooperation measures on the matters of distance education for employees and Chinese education, as well as continue to utilize their own online teaching advantages to promote the development of Confucius Institutes.

President of the Open University of China Yang Zhijian delivering a speech about the Confucius Institute and the MOOC model

In order to display the new international Chinese teaching material achievements, the conference set up a Chinese teaching materials and cultural reading materials exhibition. The Open University of China released its new online Institution User Homepage service, new HSK online exercises/practice test question bank, Easy Chinese network courses, and relevant APP products, all of which attracted numerous attendees. The attendees showed strong interest in using the Internet to conduct short-term Chinese training sessions and to train Chinese teachers using online resources. And they stayed to look for resources suitable for their local Confucius Institute. The Open University of China, in tandem with the Confucius Institute Headquarters, has and will continue to be at the forefront in introducing the MOOC model and promoting its use in Confucius Institutes worldwide for the better use of information technologies on a larger scale.

Attendees discovering Chinese learning products at the Open University of China booth

This year’s Confucius Institute Conference lasted two days and was attended by more than 2,000 university presidents, as well as Confucius Institute representatives from more than 120 countries and regions.