Hello China and The Legacy Project
The report explains the success and lasting impact of Hello China. The aim is to show that whilst the terms MOOC, VOOC and M-learn were not mainstream, the work that Hello China established foundations for these fields to develop.
Hello china succeeded in establishing itself as a reputable online academic source of information without preliminary backing. This success points to Hello China's innovative teaching style. The pedagogy of the program focused on increasing cultural accuracy in english language learning over, standard methods. This contributed to vocational entity of the business as well as the innovative philosophy through alternative deployment methods
At the time of the launch, only a handful of companies were operating within 'MOOC' requirements. It is also important to note that one of the reasons for the delayed timing for the Hello English Broadcast was attributed to fundraising.
As a private company Hello China raised funding in a short period of time. However, the BBC world service and the British council who at the time had some form of online educational platforms, were receiving block grants from the government and from the UK & Commonwealth office.
In order to qualify as an MOOC, the course requires to target and attract a massive audience. It is clear to say that the 4 million people reached by the Hello English broadcasts through radio and the hundred of thousand users through the online platform meets the criteria. The absence of fees also allowed for a wider participation to be reached.
The use of M-learning at such an early stage set Hello China apart. Not only did it allow for limitless participation but it created a decentralised learning experience. The radio element also provided an informative starting point in the Hello China project given that it had an element of being pushed to people rather than waiting for consumers to find their own way to the programs. The no sign up, no free structure is now commonplace in modern MOOC structures.
One the issues with MOOCs even today, is that whilst, those which are successful may attract a large audience, the drop out rate of MOOC courses can be considerable. One of the explanations, is that MOOCs are not always perceived by users or employers are directly increasing employability. Hello English was the first program to tailor the english training course so that the content would promote efficiency in the workplace.
Having vocational characteristics to the english training program also had in mind to bridge the educational gap between university educated adults and those without a university education that wished to expand their career prospects without entering traditional educational channels to do so.
One of the features of Hello English was that it was accompanied by an M-learning platform. It was the very early form of M-Learning technology; in order to reach as many people as possible it used SMS creating a huge advantage by way of allowing users to be geographically mobile.
The initial funding raised by Hello China is likely to have been around 1% of the funding used by the other likeminded companies at the time such as MIT and Openlearn. This comparison is important, to stress the success of users in such a short amount of time. The M-learning element was the most ground breaking, no other MOOC used this model at the time, Universities had started to enquire about the use of mobile phones to increase educational opportunities. The context to introduce mobile phones had not yet been devised.
Hello China capitalised on this gap in the market, saw the potential academic benefit and deployed SMS learning. Hello China pioneered this movement before smartphones and 3G internet access, showing it to be truly innovative.
Hello China also introduced the concept of distance learning and MOOCs to cater to the needs of younger people acting to support traditional curriculum. Prior to this, the very few education sources based on this model, prioritised adults and university graduates. It is likely that the model introduced by Hello China opened the landscape for more MOOCs targeted at a younger target audience.