The scale of online education in China continues to expand as the government takes further efforts to promote technology integration in the education sphere.
China had over 200 million online education users as of the end of 2018. The figure rose 46.05 million from 2017, up nearly 30 percent, according to a report on the country’s internet development.
Around 96.5 percent of the total user accessed online education via mobile phones, up 63.3 percent compared with 2017, according to the 43 Statistical Report on the Internet Development in China released by China Internet Network Information Center on February 28. Applications such as WeChat have become important channels for Chinese students to get online education, said the report.
The prosperity of online education industry is indispensable from technological innovation. Faster broadband speeds, artificial intelligence and mobile internet technologies such as live streaming, have brought great changes to the industry.
Nowadays, “artificial intelligence plus education” has become the technological foundation for online education. Artificial intelligence technologies, such as intelligent homework correction, facial recognition, and personalized recommendation have been applied to the diverse scenarios of online education,offering more convenience to users. Voice recognition and cloud computing achieve breakthrough, providing more realistic and lively learning experiences for students, as well as more diversified teaching content.
In the future, technology will further drive the development of online education and training. According to a white paper, the number of China’s online education users is estimated at 296 million with the market value of 433 billion yuan by 2020.
The Ministry of Education said in its development plan for 2019 that it will promote deep integration of information technology and education, and work to ensure that over 97 percent of Chinese primary and secondary schools have access to internet with broadband speeds of above 100Mbps.
The ministry also plans to build a mechanism to supervise the utilization of digital resources at schools and promote the building of “Internet Plus Education” platform. It will also roll out measures to open up and manage online resources, help more Chinese university launch their courses on platforms of internationally renowned massive open online courses (MOOC).
As online education industry continues to expand, some prominent issues have aroused concerns.
“Online education has met people’s need for personalized learning, but problems such as inconsistent education quality have set back the development of the industry,” said Hu Wei, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.
Education regulations and policies should be enacted to improve the system of granting qualifications to online education services providers, increase the sector’s ability to discipline itself, and combine efforts from various management organizations to realize healthy and orderly development of the industry, Hu suggested.
Like Hu, many Chinese lawmakers and political advisors have contributed their wisdom to regulate online education during the sessions of the country’s top legislative body and top political advisory body being held in Beijing.
A teacher of sinology scans the QR code on a textbook to play an audio clip of a Chinese classic for students of a primary school of Hefei, eastChina’s Anhui p、Province, April 14, 2017. (Photo by Zhang Hongjin，from People’s Daily Online)