Penn State to offer first MOOC entirely in Chinese

July 02, 2014

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A popular Penn State massive open online course that explores the science of creativity will be available in Chinese, making it the University’s first dual-language MOOC.

The six-week MOOC, “Creativity, Innovation and Change,” will open July 14. It will be taught by Penn State engineering faculty and hosted online by Coursera.

“Each lesson, video and communication with students has been translated so that Chinese speakers can take this course and will not have to rely on English,” said Jack Matson, one of the co-instructors and emeritus professor of environmental engineering. “This addition will bring another international perspective to a course in which students interact in discussion forums and on assignments.”

Penn State first offered the MOOC last year, and more than 130,000 people from 195 different countries registered for it. It had the 10th largest enrollment ever out of Coursera’s offerings.

Matson and his colleagues expect the dual-language offering likely will make the Chinese enrollment in the MOOC the largest of any country other than the United States.

Penn State graduate students Huihui Zhang and Tian Fu translated the course materials. For Zhang, a master’s student in educational and instructional technology, and Fu, a doctoral candidate in education, the process had to go beyond a word-for-word translation to Chinese for their work to be successful.

“It’s about translating the meaning of the content so that it makes sense to the Chinese students,” Zhang said. “There should be a connection to understand the culture, to understand the class content and to effectively make it work together.”

For example, Zhang and Fu said they needed longer, more contextual explanations to translate some words or phrases into Chinese, such as the word “diversity.”

Each of the six lessons in “Creativity, Innovation and Change” will consist of short videos supplemented with reading materials, exercises for the students to explore their creative abilities, and discussion forums.

The instructors hope that the learners unlock and harness their creativity to be positive forces in their communities across the globe. At the end of the course, students also will be encouraged and instructed to take on a project they’ve always wanted to do.

“We want people to first become aware of their innate creativity,” said Kathryn Jablokow, a co-instructor and associate professor of mechanical engineering at Penn State Great Valley. “We’re going to teach them about the different forms of creativity, give them awareness, give them a basic process for creativity and innovation, and help them see there are steps and stages, so they don’t feel lost.”

In addition to Matson and Jablokow, the other instructors are Darrell Velegol, distinguished professor of chemical engineering, and Elizabeth Kisenwether, an assistant professor of engineering design.

To learn more about “Creativity, Innovation and Change” or to register, visit

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated July 02, 2014