The impact of MIT’s model on the Top-Level Courses Project

In this thesis, I have tried to show that the Top-Level Courses Project is   a unique Chinese answer to national challenges, and not an imported model. When the centralized curriculum, which was introduced through borrowing from the Soviet Union in the 1950’s, was gradually loosened up in the 1980’s, it was replaced with a system of course evaluations to promote quality and maintain a central direction for courses. While these systems of course evaluation became increasingly sophisticated and widespread, the Ministry of Education embarked on a number of major projects to select excellent universities and faculties through peer-review processes for extra funding, and to serve as examples to others. Adding the explosion of enrolment beginning in 1998, and the ministry’s strong desire to promote increased use of IT in education, a new national program that would evaluate the best courses, and share these using an online platform is a natural development of the different trends that already existed.

However, China does not exist in a vacuum, and during the same time, the MIT OpenCourseWare model was developed, and became highly publicized, also within China. Many articles have been published in China, both introducing the OpenCourseWare project in general terms, and comparing the OpenCourseWare project with the Top-Level Courses Project (as mentioned above). To analyze how the OpenCourseWare project could have had an impact on the Top-Level Courses Project, we need to decide on how to conceptualize the OpenCourseWare project.