Online learning should be part and parcel of higher education in the future

Source: China Youth Daily

On May 18, NPC Deputy and President of Suzhou University Xiong Sidong told the media about his six proposals to be submitted to the 2020 NPC Session, which were formulated following his research and communication with colleagues, and focused on the education and health care sectors, given the current pandemic with COVID-19.

Epidemic prevention and control measures are the new normal and schools shifted classes online as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, as such Xiong believed this new reality was an opportunity to overhaul education. He suggested that higher education should be reshaped by utilizing information technologies and smart service systems: “We should consider cloud-based or online classes as an integral part of higher education going forward, rather than see it as some sort of makeshift measure. Doing so would not only match the development objectives of universities but also align with emerging trends seen in higher education elsewhere in the world. My proposal therefore is to maintain momentum to complete the top-down design for online learning, and establish a quality monitoring and assessment system for online education while exploring new governance mechanisms for higher education.”

Xiong also suggested that, there was a need to have additional emergency management training to ensure there were sufficient numbers of people with the skills to manage emergencies, especially in face of the growing COVID-19 crisis: “We hope there will be more postgraduate programs or combined bachelor-to-graduate programs and more cross-disciplinary or multidisciplinary programs, such as emergency management plus medicine and jurisprudence plus medicine, in order to create a vast talent pool of professionals with practice-oriented, interdisciplinary management skills. Because a virus knows no boundaries, those skilled in emergency management must be versed in international laws and rules and the customs and traditions of different nations”.

As a top immunologist, Xiong has been closely following updates on and deeply involved in the research and consultation processes related to COVID-19. When introducing his two proposals on strengthening policy research into the effects of COVID-19 outbreak on teaching activities in HEIs and on improving the screening procedures for personnel from affected areas, he explained that, “Sound screening measures can help consolidate our hard-earned outcomes in combating the disease. But screening processes need to be improved immediately in certain areas.”

He suggested local governments adopt well-conceived methodology in controlling the epidemic to ensure full-coverage, thorough and precise screening and classified controls for different categories of people divided according to their risk levels, covering both personnel from Hubei Province and those who travelled to Hubei or had close contacts with someone known to be infected. Strict monitoring and screening measures should be taken at subway or railway stations, airports and other high-traffic areas, while big data platforms and cloud computing technologies should be applied to increase efficiency and accuracy.

Xiong also proposed a 2.5-day weekend policy to allow a more flexible working schedule for employees, and the establishment of a national committee on science and technology ethics to enhance studies of ethical issues in human biological and medical research.

Last year, Xiong submitted seven proposals, all of which were adopted and received positive feedback. His proposal to prioritize the promotion of national strategic education in the integrated development of Yangtze River Delta was listed by the NPC Standing Committee as a key proposal. Xiong remarked that, “The state government pays great attention to the recommendations and proposals from NPC deputies and CPPCC National Committee members, and the fast handling and implementation of proposals help to assure deputies and members can fulfill their advisory duties and maximize their participation in the deliberation and administration of state affairs.”