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New education site in China turns to students to make the lessons

New education site in China turns to students to make the lessons

China has a new online learning site that’s different to other startups in this burgeoning sector. That’s because KuXueXi is run as a non-profit, along the lines of the renowned Khan Academy.

The fledgling site is also unusual in that it gets students to make its educational videos. “Teachers might make videos that are not fun,” says KuXueXi founder Li Xuhui. “But students can make cool videos that young people want to watch.”

Many of the student-made videos on the site use a simple PowerPoint-style presentation along with a voiceover and a few visuals. The preference is for snack-sized lessons that tend to be about five minutes long. Here’s an example of an English lesson, which is centered around 2008 (and 2016?) presidential candidate Hilary Clinton:

Sometimes the students try out new things, such as this English class made on the streets of Shanghai using Google Glass:

The site covers sciences, Chinese, and English across primary to college levels. It’s up against a range of massive-open-online-course (MOOC) portals in China, such as the Chinese Coursera site and the open source-based XueTang. But KuXueXi’s appeal lies in it being a lot more accessible – and covering more age ranges – than such courses.

See: Coursera picks up steam in China as more students take MOOCs on mobile

For young people

Li’s the former Shanghai general manager at Youku (NYSE:YOKU), China’s online video giant. He’s still close to Youku, and all KuXueXi’s videos are uploaded to Youku and then embedded in the elearning site. Indeed, KuXueXi provides all the content for the ‘class’ section of Youku’s new section on educational videos. There are about 2,000 videos at present which have amassed 10 million views in the past 12 months.

Li started the site – using his own savings – in July 2013 after departing Youku and created the first 100 videos himself. Then he approached students at some of China’s top universities to make more. The video makers get paid for doing so. Despite being open to anyone to create material, the process involves standards and careful vetting. “We need to ask about 100 students before we approve and recruit about two or three of them,” Li explains to Tech in Asia.

The site is aimed at younger people, which is why the name starts with ‘ku’, which means ‘cool’ in Chinese, and makes lessons short, engaging, and multimedia. Li says he wants the content to be open, so it’s all free and there’s no need to even register. KuXueXi has mobile apps for iOS and Android. About 60 percent of viewers are on mobile.

By September, Li says, the site will roll out KuXueXi+ so that people can make educational videos within its own app.

Editing by Josh Horwitz

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