Chinese search engine giant Baidu released their China Internet Education Trend Report at the Boao Forum for Asia held in Hainan last Wednesday.
The report uses Baidu’s access to big data including 600 million daily online searches related to education, their learning-related Baidu Library with its 150 million documents, data from 50,000 video courses as well as data from 163,246 individuals who participated in a survey about online education. It explores the new structure of China’s online education industry.
Online education market
At present, China’s online education market is in its early stages, but it continues to grow rapidly. The report predicts that the market in China will reach RMB 280 billion in 2017, with an annual growth rate of 30%. This growth rate ranks third out of all industries, with information technology and the e-commerce industry taking the top spots.
The online education market can be divided into several market segments including online higher education, online vocational education, K12 online education and online language training.
Adult online education is the largest market while K12 online education including preschool, primary and secondary education represents a vast market that has yet to be explored, making it attractive to capital markets.
Investors have taken a diversified approach to online education in China. 35% of online education investment is concentrated in online language training, 24% in vocational education, 23% in K12 education, 8% in higher education and 10% in other forms of education.
According to the report, 448 million Chinese netizens use the internet to learn, representing 67% of China’s total internet users. Those aged 18 to 35 are the main users.
The content of online education is becoming richer and learning methods more distinct as technology continues to develop. 42% of users learn by videos, 39% use learning tools and 19% learn through text.
43% of users name content as the most important factor in online learning while 27% of users emphasize the variety of tools and learning methods for online education as the most important factor in online learning. People with jobs are the main users of online education.
Market in third and fourth-tier cities
People in China’s third and fourth-tier cities are more eager to get quality online education. According to the report, almost 60% of online learners live in these cities and even in rural areas. These cities are likely to be the strongest growth markets for online education.
Generally, central and western regions in China show great demand for online education due to a scarcity of education resources in the area. Access to online education should help promote the coordinated development of education across the board in China, meaning in both developed and underdeveloped regions.
Future of the online education industry
The rapid development of information technology over the past 20 years has seen traditional industries become closely connected with the internet. Education is no exception.
According to the report, the online education industry is still in its infancy and has much potential that can be tapped. The marriage of education and the internet as a self-contained industry on its own is just in its early stages and there should be a lot of time before the industry peaks.
An online education ecosystem relying on big data, cloud computing and artificial intelligence will be created to connect online learners with platforms efficiently, and the industry should help to realize education equality, breaking down historical, regional, economic and cultural barriers.
(Top photo from wealink. com)