Taiyuan, capital of North China's Shanxi province, opened an online education platform targeting senior students at high schools and featuring live teaching channels for teachers on Jan 31 -- to help control the spread of the novel coronavirus and reduce the impact of the epidemic on education, according to local officials.

To help students keep studying during the epidemic, the Taiyuan education bureau -- which is responsible for a "class at home" program -- cooperated with Alibaba and China United Network Communications Group to offer on free online education services.

"Alibaba's Alibaba Cloud and DingTalk provides data and platform support respectively and China United Network Communications Group works as network supporter to together build a sound hardware foundation for local online education," said Yin Jun, deputy director of the Taiyuan education bureau.

The classes, teachers, and students remain unchanged. Teachers and students take classes through the internet according to their schedule at home. 

In addition to completing the normal teaching process such as lectures and homework assignments, the online class implements functions including online reviews of homework and class attendance management. Parents can also learn about the class situation in real time.

Eye exercises and online physical education courses should be given to protect students' eyesight and fitness, Yin suggested.

To make sure the online education runs smoothly, 6,500 teachers in the city received special training and tests on Jan 29.

Following the rollout of its online education service for high school students, Taiyuan will expand the practice among all students in local elementary and middle schools from Feb 10 onwards, officials said.