Research News

Vanderbilt University joins Coursera Zone to expand online education access in China

Professor of Computer Science Doug Schmidt films a video for Coursera. (Susan Urmy/Vanderbilt)
Professor of Computer Science Doug Schmidt films a video for Coursera. (Susan Urmy/Vanderbilt)

Vanderbilt University will promote its free online courses in China through a new partnership announced Oct. 8 between Coursera, a leading massive open online course (MOOC) platform, and NetEase, one of the largest Chinese Internet companies and a major distributor of open online education content. The new partnership will help connect NetEase’s wide-reaching audience in China with content on Coursera. This partnership commences with the launch of Coursera Zone, a Chinese-language Web portal, as well as a video hosting agreement that makes Coursera’s video lectures much more accessible to users in China.

Coursera Zone’s offerings include Chinese-language course synopses, student testimonials, FAQs and discussion forums that cater to the specific needs and interests of Chinese students.  Vanderbilt’s landing page in Coursera Zone will include a welcome video in Mandarin from Xiu Cravens, associate dean for international relations at Peabody College of education and human development, and from several Vanderbilt students. All of the Vanderbilt classes currently offered in Coursera will be promoted on Coursera Zone, with Mandarin translation for course descriptions provided by Coursera. Vanderbilt is one of approximately 20 universities participating in Coursera Zone at this time.

“We are excited to be able to reach out more directly to our Chinese audience,” Cynthia Cyrus, associate provost for undergraduate education, said. “[rquote]We know from data tracking in Vanderbilt’s first few Coursera offerings that there is demonstrated interest in the work we’ve done, and we like the ability to give attention to a more linguistically diverse audience.”[/rquote]

Beyond providing more Chinese-language resources on Coursera Zone, Coursera and NetEase are also working together to improve the speed and performance of the Coursera platform for Chinese users. To that end, Coursera has begun storing copies of video files from select courses on NetEase servers, significantly improving video quality and load times for Chinese users.

“Ensuring the accessibility of quality educational content, regardless of a person’s location or native language, is at the core of our mission,” said Coursera Co-Founder and Co-CEO Andrew Ng. “With its wide-reaching technology platform and Chinese market expertise, NetEase will be an invaluable partner for us as we work to launch initiatives like Coursera Zone that open up Coursera to the millions of people living in China.”

“As a leading Internet company, NetEase has been known for its openness and commitment to exploring the field of online education,” said Netease Founder and CEO Ding Lei. “By working with Coursera, we hope to enhance the learning experience for Chinese-speaking students and to introduce even more top online courses to Chinese users.”

Coursera Zone is featured on NetEase’s educational portal, which also hosts translated content from other organizations such as TED and Khan Academy.

Vanderbilt joined Coursera in September 2012. A full list of Vanderbilt courses is available on the Coursera website. Visit Vanderbilt’s Digital Learning website for more information about its online education initiatives.