Schools across China embrace digitalization, build smart campuses

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As a strategy on the digitalization of education is being promoted nationwide in China, information technologies are being applied in a more integrated and innovative manner at schools across the country. 

Schools at all levels are actively exploring the construction of smart campuses and creating new forms of education to better promote the well-rounded development of students with digital technologies.

Today, in classrooms, quality teaching resources can be downloaded from the internet and shown on electronic screens; on playgrounds, smart sports equipment are making the break time more enjoyable. Besides, various school data and information can be accessed on smart phones. 

In a primary school in Dongcheng district, Beijing, fifth-grade students were having a class on the fine traditional Chinese culture. On an interactive screen in the classroom, the Houmuwu ding, a rectangular bronze sacrificial vessel of the ancient Chinese Shang Dynasty (1600 BC-1046 BC) was displayed.

As student Xing Chenyang gently slid his finger on the screen, the Houmuwu ding rotated accordingly. 

“It’s 360-degree display,” Xing said, adding that it is difficult to see the complete Houmuwu ding even at the museum. “Now we can zoom in and explore every detail in high definition on the screen.”

“By utilizing multiple technologies such as augmented reality, virtual reality, and cloud-based digital computing, we have digitized the resources of the fine traditional Chinese culture and placed them under virtual museum scenes, creating an immersive, interactive, and experiential classroom,” said Guo Zhibin, vice principal of Shijia Primary School. 

According to him, the new teaching environment allows students to not only browse and listen but also develop their abilities to observe, think, solve problems, and express their opinions.

Intelligent devices have significantly improved teaching quality in vocational education, where practical skills are emphasized.

At a national demonstration base of virtual simulation training for vocational education in Nanchang, east China’s Jiangxi province, there are various equipment such as a simulated airport control towers, airplane models, and engine models. 

“By wearing training glasses and holding an operation pen, students can see the internal structures of machineries and even disassemble and assemble them. It feels very real and intuitive,” said an executive of the development and operation department of the base. 

Virtual simulation training breaks spatial limitations and allows students to improve their skills through low-cost and repetitive training, the executive explained.

The construction of smart campuses relies heavily on the continuous improvement of infrastructure. In China, the basic infrastructure for smart education has been established.

“Leveraging technologies such as gigabit optical networks and 5G, we enable widespread connectivity among teachers, students, devices, and educational resources,” said Zang Lei, deputy chief engineer at the institute of technology and standard research of the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology. 

“Smart campuses provide new teaching methods such as online learning, holographic classrooms, and virtual simulation experiments and training. These methods integrate high-quality courses and situational thematic resources into daily teaching, providing students with authentic and engaging learning environments, thus establishing a learning model that goes beyond physical classrooms and campus boundaries,” Zang explained.

A primary school in Hangzhou, east China’s Zhejiang province has installed an intelligent sports system. The system, capturing the motions of the students practicing standing long jump with six high-resolution, high-frame-rate cameras, can provide feedbacks to help them improve.

“The intelligent sports system not only automatically collects and analyzes motion data but also generates reports based on students’ performance. With these reports, teachers now have a scientific support for their classes, making their teaching and evaluation more accurate,” said Li Qingli, deputy director of the educational information resource center at the Education College in Shangcheng District, Hangzhou.

Data is a crucial element in the construction of smart campuses. Effective data analysis and application help understand students’ conditions and enable personalized services, thus identifying teaching issues and facilitating science-based decision-making.

Intelligent digital technologies are also applied in smart services and management of schools. Zang said, “By upgrading campus management service platforms and establishing an interconnected comprehensive information system, we can provide fast and high-quality services to students and faculty while enhancing schools’ management and decision-making capabilities.”

A national big data center for the digitalization of education is currently being constructed to fully leverage data in supporting smart campuses. 

“We aim to build a data governance platform that will enable various management services through the sharing of government data. This will lead to innovative applications in scenarios such as new student registration, targeted financial aid, and campus security,” said a relevant official with the Ministry of Education.



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