How E-Learning is Changing the Education Landscape in China

E-learning has been one of the biggest recent online trends. China is currently the market showing the biggest growth. Among all the questions related to open educational resources and e-learning, the most important one remains how technology will affect learning processes and the way students are trained.

There are Already 100 Million E-learners in China

For students around the world, and especially in China, the development of the Internet usage has been an opportunity to get access to a limitless amount of information. Nowadays, the training and development of students require learning processes beyond traditional academics. This has led to the rise of a multitude of platforms dedicated to a new e-learning market.

The global E-learning market is expected to continue its rapid growth in the coming years. As shown in this Docebo report, the last five years have seen an inflow of $6 billion investment in the E-learning industry worldwide. The global market will generate revenues of more than $15 billion by 2016.

China is a country particularly fond of online features. Between 2004 and 2014, the e-learning market increased nearly fivefold. According to Daxue Consulting, in 2014, the total market represented more than €10 billion for more than 100 million e-learners. Nearly 70 universities in China have already launched their own online learning platform. However, in a country with more nearly 700 million regular Internet users, the room for growth is still high and this market is still considered as immature – proof of its huge potential. This is especially true when considering the government support for this field and the many growing initiatives to develop learning networks in China.

When it comes to investments, there’s a huge opportunity in e-learning companies operating in China – particularly for English language teaching.

Allowing Students to Control the Learning Process

Students have grown up in a world where technology and Internet are fully integrated into their everyday life. Thus, they wish to use this resource in order to help them to study, to acquire knowledge in their interested fields, and even develop specific skills that will enable them to make a difference in the labor market. The first role of e-learning is to go beyond the academic field and to allow the student to build a unique profile thanks to customized and individualized trainings.

“We live in a globalized world where everybody improves their languages skills[…]how [do you tell] the difference [between] Chinese candidates when applying to study abroad or to work in a foreign country?” said Charles-Eliott Debourdeaux, founder of Global Exam. “We observe that for our users, the e-learning stake is…to find good tools and good learning materials to train for a very standardized exam to get the highest score. Candidates can train themselves in real examination conditions everywhere and at any time. The student is in complete control of his training and will be more confident the day of the exam.”

But e-learning is more and more used as a complement to the academic learning process. There are increasingly more online training platforms and private lessons; more than ever, students rely more on resources that they can choose for themselves on the Internet rather than what is required from them through academic institutions. The access to these platforms is becoming easier and more instant, especially thanks to the availability and increased use of smartphones. E-learning has essentially enabled students to gain increased control on their own training and learning.

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Written by:
Thibaud Andre is a French consultant working at Chinese market research firm Daxue Consulting. He is passionate about Chinese culture and likes to share insights about the many emerging markets of the Middle Kingdom.
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