Over the last weekend of July, some of the world’s education leaders gathered at the EdTech Asia Summit in Ho Chi Minh to discuss where education is headed in the 21st century. 51Talk (or “China Online Education Group”), China’s leading online education platform and the first from China listed on the NYSE, was invited to attend the summit alongside education industry leaders such as Pearson, Amazon, and YouTube.
As one of the few online Chinese education companies invited to participate in the event, 51Talk demonstrated its role as an industry leader, and how online education in China is making an important impact on the global stage.
James Stewart, marketing director of 51Talk, spoke at the summit about personalized learning’s role in enhancing the quality of education for millions of students across China.
On this topic, James stated that “One of the biggest challenges facing online education is showing the market that online learning is as effective as offline learning.”
His view is that at this early stage of online education’s development, with internet connectivity no longer an issue, the next step is to figure out how to properly leverage technologies to enhance personalized learning.
Recently, 51Talk’s founder and CEO Jack Huang stated that though China’s education industry still lags behind in technology, 51Talk has made technology one of its core competitive advantages.
In the pursuit of these competitive advantages, 51Talk has made a number of investments in R&D. One of these advantages is the company’s investment in big data research and expertise. This investment has enabled 51Talk to better assess student proficiency, and then match each assessed student with the proper level of coursework.
James explained that “With the help of big data analytics, 51Talk is able to match the right students and teachers together, and pair them with the proper coursework, which will ultimately enhance each student’s learning performance and progress.”
One of the biggest problems facing China’s offline education sector is the uneven access to high quality educational resources. One of online education’s earliest attempts to solve this issue on a global scale came in the form of MOOCs (massive open online courses). This attempt failed to offer a viable solution, as MOOCs mostly provide prerecorded lectures, which prevent any interactions or feedback between the students and teachers. The model developed by 51Talk has proven to be a stronger remedy to China’s lack of access to superior education, as its teachers are able to provide real-time, personalized attention to the needs of students. In any 51Talk lesson, teachers are able to correct pronunciation, answer questions, and offer feedback tailored to each student’s needs on a real time basis. 51Talk’s services have now started to reach third and even fourth tier cities in China, and the company is on track to serve tens of millions of students in the coming years.
As for the role that AI is expected to play in education, James believes that instead of replacing teachers, AI will become a complement to them. “Artificial intelligence stands to become a powerful tool in the repertoire of each online teacher, and will yield learning benefits unobtainable in an offline setting.”
Following this, James commented on 51Talk’s newly announced partnership with SenseTime, an AI company that recently completed a $410 million Series B funding round, and described its strategic importance in keeping 51Talk at the cutting edge of its industry. The company focuses on visual recognition technology, and aims to apply it to advances in education.
Augmented by technologies and artificial intelligence, online teaching is poised to change the way that people around the world learn, and 51Talk is confident that it has positioned itself to be at the forefront of education’s next stage of evolution.
51Talk, or China Online Education Group (NYSE: COE), is a leading online education platform in China, with core expertise in English education. The Company’s mission is to make quality education accessible and affordable. The Company’s online and mobile education platforms enable students across China to take live one-on-one interactive English lessons with overseas foreign teachers, on demand. The Company connects its students with a large pool of highly qualified foreign teachers that it assembled using a shared economy approach, and employs student and teacher feedback and data analytics to deliver a personalised learning experience to its students.