The Growth of Online Education in China

A recent report has been published detailing the development of e-Learning and online education in China. The report, by companiesandmarkets.com, identifies that the sector has reached its “growth stage”, increasing in market scale by 20.7 percent between 2006 and 2007 (from RMB14.5 billion to RMB17.5 billion). So how is the industry set to develop from here? And what can the west learn from the success of the Chinese distance and blended learning systems?

Distance learning, online degree courses, and adult education have been popular in China for some time. This has been due to a number of factors, such as the expansive and rural geography of the country, the high competition for fewer enrolment places (comparable to the UK or US, at least), and recent government-stimulated incentives to ensure compulsory learning for all, e.g. the National Project of Compulsory Education in Impoverished Areas (established in 1995).

In regards to e-Learning and its involvement with pre/primary/middle school education, the latest report doesn’t reflect an outright consolidation of the country’s vast school system – which is something that makes it quite different to others. Those who offer online education services to pre-schoolers are private individuals and companies, whilst the most traditional primary and middle schools are said to be employing e-Learning techniques and offering distance classes. Primary and middle school teaching market scale has increased by 18.5 percent between 2006 and 2007.

For higher education and older learners, the report shows a growth and diversification of online education but an unimpressive continuation of doubts amongst members of the public as to the worth of diplomas from online institutions. Despite this, there is healthy enthusiasm for online education for vocation certification and an increased demand for customizable services. Additionally corporate e-learning is becoming more integrated with business hoping to improve services – especially over the last year. As a result, projections suggest that corporate e-learning is set to grow 40 percent year by year until 2011.

China is an interesting country to discuss when it comes to distance education – due to the rural country and uniquely provincial governance of education, as well as its huge population. Consequently, the country has pioneered certain aspects of education by use of online courses and media. This has not only included a Central Radio and TV University, but also distance institutions that specifically cater for niche markets such as adult farmers and workers – it will be intriguing to see how technological advancements and increased accessibility for education over the next few years.

Online Nursing Continuing Education – Benefits Over Traditional Method

The online nursing continuing education has been accepted by the professional world is evident with the fact that more and more people are joining the online nursing schools to get an online associate nursing degree. Another reason behind the growing popularity of online nursing continuing education is that it offers a wide range of accredited course for the aspiring students. Moreover, the working professionals are using it for moving ahead in their career. In fact, it works as a stepping-stone for rising higher on the ladder of success.

Increasing Importance of Online Schools

Different programs offered by the online associate nursing degree school have further increased the importance of online nursing continuing education. Both students and the professional fraternity have realized the importance of online nursing continuing education. With the help of the online nursing continuing education you can earn the degree of any level of your choice. Online nursing schools not only teach the concepts of the nursing to the students but also give them the opportunity of gaining practical experience. Thus, they become capable of handling any responsibility they get at different managerial and administrative positions.

While deciding from where to get the online nursing continuing education you must ascertain that the caliber of teaching staff is unquestionable. You may rest assured if the teaching staff is of higher caliber and have the required practical experience. There are several benefits of online nursing continuing education over the traditional method of getting education for nursing. The biggest benefit of online system of education is that you get the convenience of learning at your pace. You can complete the education without disturbing your day today working. Moreover, you can fulfill your personal commitments also while earning an online associate nursing degree.

Another advantage is that almost every body can afford it because one does not need to spend a big amount of money while getting online education. On the other hand when we compare it with the traditional method of getting education in standard nursing schools we will find that traditional schools are very expensive. If you believe that the online nursing continuing education is not as effective as the traditional one because the instructors and the students do not interact personally with each other then your assumption is not correct. In fact, online education is equally effective as the education we receive in the traditional institutes. Furthermore, the students of online nursing continuing education have the advantage of receiving the written lectures of the instructors.

On Art and Education

It seems there is a never ending debate on the state of education in our society, which is by no means a bad thing. I think that is healthy or at least an indicator that we truly care about the education of our young. But the level of contentiousness makes me believe that it has become more important to win the debate than it is to determine what is the right direction both for our youth and mankind as a whole. Locally, in Wisconsin, with the roar of Act 10 still echoing, the controversial debate over common core now besieges the senses from all quadrants. And the constant drone of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)… STEM, STEM, STEM, STEM, STEM indicates to me that we have reduced our education system to, “Train them for a skill and get them producing.”

Is it no wonder that we are collectively saying, “Something has to change”?

And my perception is there has been a distinct shift to social education over the course of my lifetime. Something that is contributing to drive the STEM debate I’m sure but I want to interject another point of view. One that has been overlooked, ridiculed, and laughed at for quite some time by the great majority of society (myself included at times).

Perhaps I should give a little background on myself and the reason for my argument to give you a bit of context.

I grew up primarily encouraged to study the sciences. I was always told that I could do anything I wanted but any expression in the arts was met with ridicule and contempt. Consequently, I ended up spending over 30 years working in the Avionics industry having graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelors of Science degree in Industrial Technology. And except for the actual learning process I was never enamored with my chosen profession. It left me unquestionably empty.

I ended up doing it solely because I had the cognitive ability to do it but certainly not the passion. Deep down I knew I was an artist but the ability to express myself had been suppressed. My path to artistic expression along with my life experience has clearly shown me where we can improve life in regards to our societal woes both professionally and inter-personally and those improvements begin with education.

One of the common things I have heard throughout my professional life regardless of where it was or what we were doing is that there has been a collective lack of creativity in plans, solutions, responses, and reactions to virtually all business endeavors. Often this was emphatically stated, “We need more creative ideas!” yet the root solution to the problem isn’t just overlooked, it’s disparaged as a gross waste of resources.

The above stated need should lead to the question, “How do we teach creativity?” And what has happened to creativity in our society? The Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking indicates that creative thinking in the United States is actually declining. A clear indication to me that we need to do something and do something about it now.

If we want more creative solutions, we need a robust education in and a change of attitude toward the Arts. An area of study that I myself have disdained in the past mostly because I was mimicking my upbringing. But also because I did not know what it was, what its purpose was, or how it could bring value to my life both personally and professionally.

I’m not proposing a monumental shift in educational direction rather a more rounded approach with a distinct emphasis on creative thinking within each individual – a proposition that avoids the socially desirable black and white grading standard. I’m convinced our desire for these grading standards are a product and an indication of our deep reverence for STEM.

If you consider my example, I began by mastering the multiplication table, moved onto completing the square in a quadratic equation, then finding the third derivation in calculus and I end up applying those skills repeatedly for nearly the rest of my life thereby joining the mechanical cycle of produce and consume. Good skills to be sure but that didn’t prepare me to create at the base level meaning of the word.

Intuitively I know that absolutely nothing develops creativity like the study of the Arts. Study and learn a new technique then go and create something fresh and interesting (for the student) with that technique. While grading can be based on the level of mastery of the technique the true education comes in exploring the deeper meaning of creating something. What did you find interesting about creating this piece? What did you learn? What would you do differently next time? Questions that do not necessarily have a right or wrong answer but they are designed to stimulate even more creative thinking.

It seems clear to me that we worship creativity in virtually all aspects of our lives. Beyond the obvious movie star or musician, just think of the famous CEO because of his innovative products or the rock star minister able to attract great legions of people to listen to him tell stories that are thousands of years old. And a close inspection of the scientific method, and the conclusions it has brought us, will reveal that it is those that artistically (creatively) apply their vocation to experimentation that are the ones that come up with truly ground breaking results that change our lives.

But the question “How do we teach this rare commodity called creativity?” remains. I don’t believe there is a simple answer and we may not even truly know what creativity is.

I do know this, if you want to engage a whole group of people in math, teach them music. If you want to elevate everyone’s attention to detail, teach them the visual arts. If you want more people to be passionate about geometry, teach them central perspective (at the right time) and they’ll most likely move on with a fervent eagerness to learn calculus.

In many ways, central perspective may be the perfect analogue to what I am trying to say. Most Art Historians will tell you that unlike other ancient discoveries in visual arts, central perspective was discovered in one place and at one specific time because it was such a radical departure from normal that it only came about because of prolonged experimentation and research. While I do not disagree with that, I find it subordinate to the fact that central perspective was discovered during the Renaissance and like the fundamental underlying message of the Renaissance, central perspective was disseminated freely to all who wanted to learn it. And we have been the rich beneficiaries of that teaching for five centuries now.

Central perspective could have been discovered in other places at later times had those that discovered it decided to hoard it to themselves. But the Renaissance was about learning and applying those lessons in a creative manner. It wasn’t about learning new applications of geometry, it was about having a creative vision and developing the tools to realize that vision and then giving those tools to fellow human beings so they too could create their vision.

Creativity seems to be born out of the free expressive exploration of techniques that stimulate the senses. The key element though is an active exploration of these techniques – it can not be learned passively. We have to engage our offspring in undertakings they can become passionate about and not just teach them to clearly defined objectives that are learned by rote.

Just the smallest experience in the creation of art teaches us to make concrete decisions as to why we want something some particular way. It forces us to contemplate more points of view and consider the results of our actions in a more diverse way than our monolithic produce and consume society typically trains us to regard. It gets us out of the superficial exercise of placing check marks in boxes and makes us choose a particular shade and hue (both metaphorically and in real life) for a particular reason and we will succeed or fail based on those decisions. But even if we fail, we eventually succeed as the lesson will come full circle and teach us the reasons for not doing it that way.

Earlier I referred to stimulating the senses. We must keep in mind that we have presumably mastered the use of our senses prior to being able to speak. But a modicum of training in the arts quickly reveals that we only attained a journeyman level of proficiency at best. One of the major benefits of artistic growth is we begin to understand that there isn’t a clear demarcation between input (the senses) and processing (cognition) like contemporary education teaches but a gradual transition with each dependent upon the other. I am convinced that it is within this understanding that creativity is born and flourishes.

If we look objectively at our educational system, we will come to the conclusion that we primarily train people “what to think.” Whereas the creation of art develops our “how to think” abilities. It seems to me that because of how we presently educate, true creativity is restricted to those gifted with natural talent. While the average person may never contend with the true prodigy regardless of the amount of education, training, and practice provided, they will use the traditional tools taught in schools today in a more creative manner if their education includes well rounded instruction and practice in the Arts. And that is the best direction our education system and our society could possibly go.

Continuing Your Education Using the Internet

Due to the economic conditions over the past five years many adults and young professionals decided it was in their best interest to go back to school. Whether their company was downsizing, their position was being eliminated, or they wanted to make themselves more marketable, going back to school was a priority for them. When the economy is booming, everyone seems to have a job. When everyone has a job, education is on the backburner for most. Education costs a lot of money and takes up a lot of time, especially at the graduate level. So if individuals are comfortable where they are and they are making enough money, they feel they don’t see a need to go back to school.

During the past 5-10 years online education has dramatically increased in enrollment. There are now more programs available to online students than ever before. Whether someone is looking for a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing or a Master’s Degree in Engineering, there is a school that offers’s it online. Adults in particular, are very comfortable using the internet on a day to day basis. They typically use it at work or with their children. So doing their education over the internet is no big deal for them. It is more convenient than having to travel to a physical campus to attend class. If you are trying to balance your family, job, and school, this is a huge factor when deciding how to complete your degree. The internet is a great tool that has evolved and developed over the past 20 years. Not only can you do your degree online; you can do all of your research as well. It is a great tool for everyone to use.

Continuing your education is very important. It should not matter what the economy is doing. It is a best practice to be as up to date as possible on industry trends when making decisions for your company. You want to make an informed decision as opposed to an uninformed decision. The best part is, many employers will pay for an online education these days. You may have to commit to them for 1-2 years after completing the degree, but a free education is well worth it. You take the class, receive a passing grade; and then your company reimburses you for your tuition fees. It’s that easy. To find out what internet courses qualify for tuition reimbursement, contact your human resources department.