Editor’s note: This the second part of our blog series about Chinese e-learning market and the role of localization.
In the previous article, we provided an overview of the e-learning industry in China, how it started and the current situation, the major players in the sector and what localization can do to help foreign EdTech companies understand the Chinese market.
Localization plays a crucial role, whether you are selling academic and online business course or a company, spending hundreds and thousands of dollars to equip your employees. It is the bread and butter of globalization that helps businesses to expand and gain knowledge beyond borders.
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Aside from translating the texts of the course, the overall content – from the design, captions, colors, video – is localized to suit the audience’s language, culture, and digital habits. And the process requires long hours of work, project management, editing, proofreading and everything in-between.
And as technology facilitates these new ways of learning online, there are emerging technologies such as VR (virtual reality), chat bots, AI and among others that are hard to ignore because they have the potential to shape the internet, including e-learning and localization of online courses.
Data-driven and interactive methods in VR and e-learning
VR, for example, is one of the hottest trends in China. Video game maker, NetDragon Websoft has already jumped the VR bandwagon through its subsidiary company Starship Enterprise; the company is working on the future of education through the combination of data and virtual reality.
China’s VR industry is expected to grow over the next five years as smartphone producers are already gearing up for ways to capitalize on this emerging technology by producing compatible handsets.
South China Morning Post reported that JD.com and research and marketing intelligence firm, IDC released their joint report and it showed that VR is “expected to grow at a compound average growth rate of 75.5 percent, with entertainment, education and health care its three key future directions.”
Education is one of the most important pillars of the Chinese society where parents are willing to payan enormous amount of money up to $60,000 USD for a college application to provide their children the highest quality as possible. And this is also the reason why domestic companies are taking advantage of this constant factor.
VR from the global perspective and the current market in China
One of the external factors that pushed these emerging technologies is the proliferation of smartphones on a global scale. The features that are integrated into these smartphones have made it easier for online course providers to capitalize on user’s digital habits.
Developers are endlessly working on practical applications as the growth of mobile penetration, from east to west, is growing exponentially. It was in 2014 when Google introduced their very own virtual reality device called Google cardboard at the Google I/O conference that sparked innovation among various sectors, including education in the experimental stage.
In 2014, there were 2.1 billion mobile web users in the world and the top countries that have the biggest share were China and Japan. In 2015, GSMA report showed that there were 4.7 billion unique mobile subscribers globally by the end of last year. Mobile growth in developing countries is increasing, including China and India.
While western developers and entrepreneurs explore virtual reality, China’s VR market is also experiencing growth. According to Daniel Ahmad, analyst at Niko Partners via Wareable, “With 100s of millions of smartphone users, mobile VR adoption has been surpassing expectations in China whilst high-end VR headsets have struggled.”
The VR devices in China are compatible with different kinds of smartphones. Gear VR has 1 million Chinese users already and another company called Baofeng is selling nearly 1 million units. The entertainment industry is the fastest one that benefits from the growth. Meanwhile, domestic companies such as Starship Enterprises are already tuning up the education system.
3 Ways How VR is shaping China’s e-learning and education
The adoption of VR is still in its infancy. There is room for exploration for developers and private companies at the moment. There are a lot of things to be done, but they all want to have a contribution to modernizing education.
VR in classroom for an enriching experience
Chinese education is using rote learning at almost all levels. Thriving in papers, pens, and teachers almost doing all the talking, and students memorizing everything, the early adopters and proponents of VR want to revolutionize classroom experience by integrating the technology for a more hands-on approach.
NetDragon, an online game company, is teaching students fire safety by incorporating VR lessons.
China Daily said, “Students are catapulted into a simulated environment where a fire has broken out. They must crawl across the floor, avoid obstacles, such as desks and chairs, and escape.”
From rote learning to real-life, hands-on learning that will spark creativity, productivity and efficiency among students, this is still in the experimental stage, there’s no doubt that more private companies
will explore this market in the future.
The takeaway thought for the entrepreneur:
While is still in its infancy, maybe it’s time to think about how this emerging technology can change your business in the future, especially if you’re in the education, entertainment or gaming. A courseware localization services can tune up your e-learning business with VR features.
Digitizing the human body for hands-on teaching and learningin medicine
In the intersections of education and medicine, even the human body has been digitized to help medical students and teachers understand the different parts, cells, and membrane, piece by piece in an award-winning 3-D Anatomy VR course that was developed by Sichuan University.
How does it work? In The Stimulation Anatomy course, “a student wearing VR glasses stood in front of the screen as the teacher narrated what the student was seeing. Students in the class could not only observe the organs and structures of the human body through VR technology, they could also could “pick up” an organ and put it near their eyes to observe,” People’s Daily Online wrote.
From the traditional use of cadaver or books to teach medical students, especially in critical surgeon activities, VR not only digitizes the human body but also provides a valuable, personalized learning experience for the students.
The takeaway thought for the entrepreneur:
VR is not only limited to classroom experience for children; it can be integrated into any course that could help professionals and soon-to-be doctors and surgeons and healthcare specialists to equip them in their field, in a more personalized and hands-on experience. If you’re in the medicine or healthcare industry, think of how online course localization can build your business in China.
Domestic private companies capitalizing on VR technology to improve education
NetDragon, Sichuan University are not the only ones experimenting and exploring technology. Even small private education companies such as New Oriental and VRschool were reported to have collaborations with other companies to assist them in their ventures.
New Oriental, for example, partnered with Chinese online video content provider LeEco to build “China’s first VR course” in December 2015. Meanwhile, VRschool has developed a course that is being used in 10 schools in China while Longtu Education, although a gaming company, plans to provide courses for teachers to help them prepare for VR lessons.
From traditional web-based e-learning platforms, even Chinese developers are now working on integrating VR courses as part of the modules and also starting to educate teachers and instructions to help them hone their skills when teaching in a VR set-up.
The takeaway thought for the entrepreneur:
There are still challenges in this sector as the lack of content and technology hinders developers to pursue this technology and make it more mainstream in the years to come. But it’s something we can never neglect, especially if your business is in the Internet industry. But if you think your business can leverage on this technology, it’s worth to ponder on how to invest on it in the future.
What can these emerging technologies contribute in the e-learning market?