Innovative college courses turn theory into immersive experiences

Innovative college courses turn theory into immersive experiences
 

Students play on the playground after school in Daliyabuyi village of Yutian, Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Reguon on February 28, 2024. Photo: Shan Jie/GT

Students play on the playground after school in Daliyabuyi village of Yutian, Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Reguon on February 28, 2024. Photo: Shan Jie/GT

On Tuesday, Anhui Normal University (ANU) in East China’s Anhui Province treated students to a three-day sumptuous fish feast, the fruitful results of a three-year campus water quality management project.

Meanwhile, a selective course offered by Peking University in Beijing aims to help one-third of the students lose over 5 percent of their weight, while students in Yuelu Academy in Central China’s Hunan Province are learning the philosophy behind traditional Chinese divination.

An extensive spectrum of distinctive and immersive courses offered by universities and colleges across China have recently become phenomenal hits while also giving the public a glimpse of how schools are renewing their educational approach to pique students’ interest and equip them for an ever-evolving society. 

These courses have been sought after as they combine theoretical knowledge with practical application with rich content, innovative teaching methods, and the ability to enhance students’ all-round literacy. They are significant for students as they can meet their learning needs, cultivate their practical capabilities and overall literacy.

The course “Physical Fitness Enhancement: Exercise and Diet” at Peking University is designed for overweight students whose Body Mass Index (BMI) exceeds 25 kg/m2. A BMI ranging from 23 to 27.4 kg/m2 puts you at moderate risk for health problems. The faculty team provides instruction on dietary nutrition and fitness knowledge and skills. Personalized weight-loss plans are developed to help students cultivate a healthy lifestyle, develop habits of regular exercise and balanced diet. 

Engaging in activities such as rock climbing and running, half of the students have reportedly reduced their waist circumference by more than 5 centimeters.

Students in ANU might need to mind their weight after enjoying a three-day feast that saw over 300 kilograms of fish made into dozens of dishes such as fried fish, sour and spicy fish, braised fish fillet, fish head with pickled peppers and handmade fish balls.

Over 6,000 fingerlings were released into the campus river three years ago as part of a campus water quality management project aimed at addressing damage to the aquatic and shore slope ecosystems. 

Wen Xinli, a professor with the ANU’s School of Ecology and Environment, said that tracking indicators such as nutrient nitrogen and phosphorus ion levels in the water system serves both the needs of practical teaching and guarding the natural environment of the homeland.

Many students at Nanchang University in East China’s Jiangxi Province have recently shared footage of a classroom performance of Gan Opera Art on various social media platforms, drawing the public’s attention to this traditional Chinese theater performance that combines music, singing, dance and acrobatics. 

The reason why high art seems obscure and difficult to understand is due to high barriers of entry. The course “Appreciation of Gan Opera Art” succeeds in this as it turns the classroom into a stage, allowing students to gain a deeper understanding and experience of the opera through hands-on performances. 

The course combines imparting knowledge and emotional connections, effectively enhancing the appeal of traditional culture and greatly benefiting students.

Whether it is fitness or opera, behind the popularity of these courses lie the sincere anticipation of students for high-quality programs and the public’s strong desire to enhance national cultural confidence. 

A student-centered and pragmatic approach will transform more classrooms into unique “stages” and give birth to many more of these innovative courses that ignite students’ passion for life-long learning and prepare them for a changing society.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times. [email protected]

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