New Normal: Observations from China—Prof. Wang Qiong, X-Learning Centre, Peking University

Observations from China 

According to news reports and some investigations, online teaching during the epidemic has widened the gap between students’ studies and brought about some side effects, such as academic frustration and mental stress, which require schools to adopt strategies for. In addition to the fire and earthquake emergency plans, schools have added emergency response plans to protect students and teachers against plague.

Disadvantaged students are not well-equipped to learn online 

According to a survey of teachers (5,667) and students (33,194) in 164 high schools at 10 provinces in China conducted by the Big Data Center of the Graduate School of Education, Peking University, the network conditions and equipment availability have become key factors restricting the effectiveness of online teaching and learning. Based on teachers’ feedback, they cited “network environment” (about 40%) and “electronic equipment failures” (11.82%) and “lack of electronic equipment” (19%) as the most important reasons for affecting online teaching. In terms of students’ online learning process, nearly 60% of students have problems communicating with teachers due to equipment shortages and network failures, among which 56% are urban students and 76% are rural students.

The mental health of students

Because online learning conditions and learning effects vary from person to person, after schools reopened, some students felt great pressure when they found that they fell behind in their studies.There has been a significant increase in the number of student suicides since schools reopened across China. Some of them are attributed to depression caused by academic pressure. In response, the local education bureaus have instructed schools not to post any test scores publicly and for them to pay more attention to students’ mental health. 

The school epidemic emergency plan

Just like a fire emergency plan, every school now has an epidemic emergency plan, especially for kindergarten children who cannot wear facemasks in school.

Wang Qiong is a Professor of Educational Technology, and the Director of the X-learning Center in Peking University. The X-learning Center is an innovation center and a leading research group in e-learning, teacher professional development(TPD), and learning analytics. During 2014-2018, Prof. Wang conducted several national TPD MOOCs and MOOC projects in mainland China, which benefitted nearly one million teachers.

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