10 Trends You Should Know About China’s Education Industry

Author: Katelyn Ao (kun.ao@jmdedu.com) Nov. 11th, 2016

GET2016, one of the largest ed-tech event in China, was held on Nov. 11th 2016 in Beijing with 3586 attendees from around the world. Chujiu, the founder of JMDedu, a major ed-tech media and organizer of GET2016, opened GET2016 Summit with 10 trends that are shaping China as well as the global education industry.

JMDedu believes that there are three key factors leading to changes in the education industry: changes in the market, technology development, and open policies. The points below are actual changes that have already happened and the imminent trend in the future.

  • Digitization: Adoption of technology in education has become the new norm
  • Next-Gen teaching and learning: placing learners at the center
  • Personalization: Learning behavior data drive individualized learning
  • Artificial Intelligence: Application of artificial intelligence in education saw breakthrough.
  • Securitization: Education and training industry accelerate the securitization process.
  • Integration of Public and Private Sector: digital transformation, or called informatization in Chinese, brings together the public and private education sectors in China.
  • MOOC: MOOC will play an important role in higher education, especially bridging the gap between college and career.
  • Higher Ed Reform: Economic transitions and employment pressure will force the training market and higher education reforms.
  • Globalization: We saw accelerated globalization in edtech investment and innovation. For education entrepreneurs, it is time to consider going global.

The following is Chujiu’s speech:

Ever since I founded JMDedu in 2013, I had a feeling that the next 10 years would be the most extraordinary in China’s education industry, even the world’s. But ever since I had this feeling, I have been thinking about a problem: why is the industry changing? We believe there are three factors: the market is changing, technology is developing, and policies are opening.

The first view we want to point out is the significance of data and data mining. The education industry is forming a mass of data. I remember around 2013, we encountered the problem of how to collect data if all the learning and practice are on paper. Soon afterwards, we saw many learning products and new models, such as the automatic grading system, question item banks, and adaptive learning technologies.

The second question I would like to pose, also a question every person engaged in education needs to ask — what kind of abilities we want to cultivate in the next generation so that they are prepared for today and future. We’ve now entered information age after primitive, then agricultural and industrial age.The talent needed for each period is different — in the primitive times, you needed strength and the ability to hunt for food; in the agricultural age, you needed land and means of production; in the industrial age, you needed to become useful in the industrial process line. But since the Internet was invented, we have entered the 4th era.

This year we saw many innovative schools in China around the world. These are the efforts of cultivating talent prepared for the present day as well as the future.

The third conclusion I want to share with you is that the distance has already disappeared — innovate, or die. The events of the future that hasn’t occurred yet has already been hidden in the present — we just don’t see it. Distance has disappeared. By “distance” I mean the distance between online and offline, between China and overseas. The education industry is only a little bit slower, but in the end, the world is flat. We all have only two choices: innovate or die. From the demands in market, talent, and consumers, all aspects are telling us the ultimate truth: the distance has disappeared.

One of the keywords this year is “winter”. From 2015 Q4 to 2016 Q4, other than huge funding in kids English learning, what talked most is that winter is coming and ed-tech startups are dying. But we think differently. When new things emerge, bubble and chaos are inevitable; but it will become more rational gradually. Winter will be followed by Spring: starting from Q4 this year, whether it be the primary market or the secondary market, capital has begun to recover.

Next, I would love to share some trends that have already happened and some things that will soon become reality.

The first is that application of technology in education will become the new norm. Nowadays, it is very difficult to find a product that does not factor in technology and the Internet.

Second, learners will become the center of the next-gen educational relationship. This statement can answer the question I asked before: what kind of talent do we plan to cultivate in the future? Before, we only lectured — teachers stood on stage and spoke, just as I am doing right now. But the truth is, I don’t know if what I’m sharing with you is valuable to you at all. I am looking forward to a product that will make a breakthrough: a large class that not only has students as the main part of class, but can also ensure full interaction between the teachers and students.

Third, we believe that the only way to create true individualized learning is by tracking students’ learning behavior and collecting learning data. The simple mode of one-on-one teaching has just scratched the surface of this. The premise of true personalized learning is understanding the needs of students. In person one-on-one learning includes experience, and experience cannot be shared, nor can it be copied.

When talking about artificial intelligence, we try to return to the rationality of it — it does not equal replacing the teacher, nor is it meant to be a “medicine that can cure all diseases”. So far, artificial intelligence can only reach the intellectual level of 3 to 4-year-olds, so it is clear that the essence of it is to enhance efficiency, and only meant to act as a subsidiary role.

As far as securitization goes, there’s no need to explain more. Especially after the revision of the three laws, all of the educational enterprises, including for-profit and non-profit, have a perfectly justifiable name.

I know a lot of people are concerned about the MOOC completion rate. At present there are problems, but in my opinion, the value and liquidity of these courses can’t be judged based only on the completion rates. MOOC can open up the higher education and employment market because it can export learning abilities directly to enterprises.

The next topic is the economic restructuring and employment pressure forcing the training markets and new reforms of higher education. It is very simple — schools like Xsteach, Tanzhou Education, many new “New Orientals” (Note: refers to the New Oriental Chef Training School), and industrial robot training companies will subject to the needs of jobs.

The last topic is the one I want to share with you in particular is globalization. We have visited dozens of countries — these include developed countries, developing countries. During these expeditions, we found that the whole world is developing towards education and technology, meaning there will be more projects to take on and more investments to make. In the near future, your competitors may not only be sitting in front of you, but also across the globe.

The distance has disappeared, and the only thing we can do is, in fact, innovate or die.