As students switch to the virtual classrooms, limitation in China on internet makes learning difficult. Stringent curb on internet is posing new challenges for academicians in helping students access study materials. Unhindered availability of e-learning materials has also suffered a blow.
In the Chinese mainland, popular e-learning platforms, YouTube, Twitter, Face and a few Google functions remain banned. Other domestic Chinese platforms are mercilessly filtering out information including politically sensitive study materials.
A few foreign universities are increasingly finding it difficult to freely engage with students. Chinese students who are enrolled in these universities and have returned to their hometown during the COVID-19 outbreak are bearing most of the brunt. The constant supervision on internet has made it difficult for educators to upload learning materials. The great firewall of China or unfathomable internet restrictions has left faculties grappling whole disseminating information and knowledge.
As per reports, one staff member associated with a British university told how the VPN provided by the institution to students to join classes is “not very effective in China.” Speaking anonymously, she revealed how Chinese students are unable to access study materials and lagging behind in the process. The situation is different for other foreign students who could log in seamlessly.
“Teaching online is quite difficult now,” commented the professional. “Many [mainland Chinese] students need to search for paid and more advanced VPN services.”
Common people remain outside the periphery of accessing the materials, however, the rules are loosened for certain companies and institutions with valid VPN usage rights.
Co-director of the M.A in Human Rights programme, University of Eriangen-Nuremberg (FAU), Katrin Kinzelbach comments on her earlier prediction about the risks associated with online learning which although was a welcoming move.
“For example, it becomes very easy to record class discussions,” she said. “This might incentivize China experts to self-censor, and it could further expose Chinese students who study abroad.”