Like their counterparts across China, Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University students found themselves on an extended holiday after Chinese New Year as the result of the novel coronavirus outbreak. However, XJTLU undergraduate students got a unique and relevant way to continue their research-led learning during 10th-23rd February.
An optional, non-credit online course titled “Developing Global Citizenship” is enabling students to look at the epidemic from multiple perspectives, said Dr Juming Shen of XJTLU’s Institute of Leadership and Education Advanced Development, the course’s developer.
“It enhances the students’ core competencies and leads them to think more deeply about the novel coronavirus epidemic so as to contribute their own part to the war against it,” said Dr Shen.
The course does not simply move lectures to an online platform, but takes full advantage of the internet’s openness, diversity and convenience, he noted.
“Online education is not just teaching through a screen,” Dr. Shen said.
“Instead, the essence is to develop students’ abilities to see problems and to solve them, to learn actively and become lifelong learners who are able to adapt to changes brought about by the era of the internet and artificial intelligence."
As an example of how the course is teaching active learning skills, in a lecture on the theme of digital citizenship, Na Li of ILEAD challenged students to think about questions like how to discern the truth from masses of information online and what abilities people need to comprehend the meaning of statistics.
More than 1,400 participants signed up for the course, forming 230 groups who are studying topics in the themes of social responsibility, digital citizenship, sustainable development and social innovation. More than 30 advisors chosen for their relevant expertise are providing remote mentoring sessions.
Groups are using techniques like questionnaires, online interviews and data analysis to investigate topics and are preparing research reports, video presentations and electronic posters for peer-review and cross-group discussions.
Dr Shen noted that students' households were invited to participate.
“We have groups consisting of students and their families,” he said.
Professor Youmin Xi, executive president of XJTLU, lauded the course for enabling students to enhance their capabilities and learn to take ownership of problems.
“The course uses epidemic prevention as a practical exercise for XJTLU students to improve their ability to respond to crises and to take on the responsibilities of global citizens” he said.
“At the same time, it is an attempt at a new type of online course and learning concept.”
By Luyn Shi, translated by Xiangyin Han
Edited by Guojuan Wang and Tamara Kaup
Photo provided by Yuxin Dong