Skip to Content

China’s students will now study online because coronavirus has shut schools

February 17, 2020
china student
china studentAP

The news: China has launched a national cloud learning platform and started broadcasting primary school classes to ensure the country’s 180 million students can still keep learning even though schools are closed, according to state-run news agency Xinhua. A new school semester, scheduled to start today, has been postponed indefinitely as part of measures to combat the coronavirus. China authorities have encouraged people to stay at home to help reduce its spread.

School on TV: The approach differs by age. Primary school classes are being broadcast on one of China’s state TV channels. Junior and senior high school students in China can use an online learning platform which has 169 lessons covering 12 subjects for the first week, based on the national curriculum. Teachers will keep updating the platform with new materials as needed.

Bandwidth: The government has enlisted the China's three biggest telecoms operators—China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom—plus tech companies like Huawei, Baidu and Alibaba to back up the platform with 90 terabytes of bandwidth and 7,000 servers, ensuring up to 50 million students can use it simultaneously, according to state broadcaster CCTV News. About 600,000 teachers have also been using a livestreaming service called Dingtalk, built by Alibaba, to conduct online classes, the company said (although it has apparently not gone down so well with many students.)

Read next: China has started a grand experiment in AI education. It could reshape how the world learns.

Deep Dive

Policy

A brief, weird history of brainwashing

L. Ron Hubbard, Operation Midnight Climax, and stochastic terrorism—the race for mind control changed America forever.

Eric Schmidt: Why America needs an Apollo program for the age of AI

Advanced computing is core to the security and prosperity of the US. We need to lay the groundwork now.

Why the Chinese government is sparing AI from harsh regulations—for now

The Chinese government may have been tough on consumer tech platforms, but its AI regulations are intentionally lax to keep the domestic industry growing.

AI was supposed to make police bodycams better. What happened?

New AI programs that analyze bodycam recordings promise more transparency but are doing little to change culture.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.