Online Teaching Platforms and Websites in China's Universities
Wang Zhuzhu and Zhang Weiyuan
An online teaching platform is a necessary component of teaching and learning on the Internet. This paper aims to analyze the features and functions of existing teaching platforms. It is hoped that this research will enable educational institutes to better understand the differences between online teaching platforms and other types of platforms, and hence improve existing teaching platforms to enhance teaching effectiveness. The sample is 53 teaching platforms and websites used by China's online colleges. Three general functions (design, interaction and collaboration, and administration and management) and 22 sub-functions are included in the analytical framework. The results show that the design of these websites leaves much to be desired but they are quite effective in terms of the other two general functions. The conclusions of this paper are as follows. We have observed that these platforms have moved away from the very simple functions of information dissemination and resources sharing towards more sophisticated functions such as assisting the teaching process. Some universities are already carrying out online learning but improvements are needed in website construction and the utilization of the teaching platform. Finally, the authors of this paper suggest that the education authority should play a leading role in the further development of online teaching platforms. Online education experts and practitioners can be recruited to investigate areas for improvement. For example, the Internet should be used more for the dissemination of information and the network among different online colleges can be strengthened. If teaching support services and resource sharing can be further improved, online teaching platforms will become more useful learning tools.