China’s education gap is a huge problem. It is said that some 60 million students in rural schools are left-behind children, struggle to grasp advanced subjects such as English and chemistry.
To mitigate the education gap between the rich and the poor in China, China’s Ministry of Education has said that roughly 358,000 teachers were hired in the past year to serve in primary and middle schools in rural areas across the country.
It’s also hoped that the proliferation of low-cost smartphones and education tech in the market will democratize education in rural China, where roughly 70% of China’s population live. There has been a project done in rural China to explore how the phone games could possibly be adapted to English literacy learning. Researchers with the Mobile & Immersive Learning for Literacy in Emerging Economies (MILLEE) Project have used gamification elements to teach literacy with promising results.
Now it’s hoped the sector will go one step further. IoT is now widely adopted in the education sector to help teachers engage their students. TutorGroup provides its English learners TutorGlass lessons, where Google Glass enabled teachers give out lessons in the stores and streets while having English conversations. HAX introduced on its fifth batch Demo day, an educational toy for kids to awaken their interest in logic, programming and robotics, Robo, and Microsoft IoT introduced the connected classroom in Beijing.
Seoul-based SmartStudy is utilizing IoT to make its content more engaging and interactive for children, providing IoT devices and IoT toys and connecting them to mobile applications. The company agreed to supply ‘PinkFong’ content to China’s major IPTV company WASU and release apps for 360, Baidu and Xiaomi. Its content is available on internet TVs and streaming media like Google TV, YouTube, Xiaomi, Hua Shu, U+ TV, and Youku.
“Education combined with entertainment, edutainment, is hard to achieve. If it’s too much focused on games, it has less educational value, and if it’s too much focused on education, it will need sugar-coating with game features,” Senior Vice President Ryan Lee said.
Targeting 2-K (2-year-old to Kindergarten) children, the company claims that they achieved 70 million downloads and 8.8 million monthly active users worldwide, with its strongest user base in Asia, followed by the U.S., Europe, and other English speaking countries. Based on a monthly subscription model, users will be able to access 5000 videos by paying 9.9$ a month.
“We develop our own online contents with our in-house content creators who previously worked in children’s book publishing and IT developers from internet, games, and electronic companies,” Business Development Gemma Joo said.
“We plan to open offices in China and the U.S. to make local content for each market,” Lee stated. According to Lee, the U.S. users like interactive, actionable content such as writing letters on the tablet or taking pictures with the character, while Asian users prefer one-way streaming video content.
Image Credit: Shutterstock, SmartStudy