The Growth of Online Education in China

A report detailing the development of e-learning and online education in China was recently published. The report states that the sector has entered its “growth phase” and its market size has increased by 20.7 percent between 2006 and 2007 (from RMB14.5 billion to RMB17.5 billion). How will the industry develop from here? And what can the West learn from the success of Chinese distance and blended learning systems?

Distance learning, online courses and adult education have long been popular in China. This is due to a number of factors such as B. the country’s vast and rural geography, fierce competition for fewer enrollment places (at least comparable to the UK or the US) and recent government-led incentives to ensure compulsory learning for all, e.g. B. The National Project of Compulsory Education in Poor Areas (established in 1995).

When it comes to e-learning and its involvement in pre-primary, elementary and middle school education, the latest report does not reflect full consolidation of the country’s vast school system – which sets it apart from others. Those providing online educational services for preschool children are individuals and companies, while the most traditional elementary and junior high schools are said to be using e-learning techniques and offering distance learning. The market for elementary and middle school education grew by 18.5 percent between 2006 and 2007.

For higher education and older learners, the report shows growth and diversification in online education, but an unimpressive continuation of public doubts about the value of diplomas from online institutions. Despite this, there is a healthy enthusiasm for online professional certification education and an increased demand for customizable services. In addition, companies are increasingly integrating e-learning into the business in hopes of improving services – especially in the last year. As a result, forecasts indicate that corporate e-learning will grow 40 percent year over year through 2011.

China is an interesting discussion country when it comes to distance education because of the rural country and unique provincial education administration as well as its huge population. Consequently, the country has pioneered certain aspects of education through the use of online courses and media. This includes not only a central radio and television university, but also distance institutes that specifically cater to niche markets such as adult farmers and workers – it will be fascinating to see how technological advances and greater accessibility to education unfold over the next few years.

Thanks to Sarah Maple

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