The past year has reshaped the education sector with school closures and forced billions of teachers and students out of the traditional classrooms and into the digital world of live-streamed classes. Before 2020, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and pre-recorded lectures were the foundation of the Edtech industry. Coursera, Khan Academy and Crash Course assists millions of students around the globe to get a better score in school.
Compared to MOOCs, live-streaming lectures narrow the distance of student’s expectations from classroom teaching to online learning. It actively promotes student-teacher interaction and engagement, ensuring students are on track with the class. With each passing day, digital live learning is becoming the norm in the sector and a red hot market for investors. Through free-trial marketing and digital marketing, the e-learning platform in Asia-pacific, especially in China, has witnessed an accelerated growth amid the pandemic.
Edtech Giants in China
Asian parents are the top spenders on education. Due to the one-child policy in China, many families put all the resources into their children’s future. As in most cases, 46-52% of the family’s total expenses are invested in the children’s education. On top of that, more than 60% of the primary school students are tutored outside the classroom. A national education association has found that Chinese parents spend an average of 120,000 yuan (US$17,400) a year on tutorial classes for their children.
It is no doubt that China has the biggest e-learning market with at least 50 million students doing stay-home tutoring each day. Many Edtech giants, for example, Zuoyebang, Yuanfudao and Youdao, advertise free live streaming courses on social media like Douyin, Watermelon Video and Bilibili to gain more users. A report of China’s Education Industry disclosed that the number of education-related accounts on Douyin has reached 30 million in the first quarter of 2021. Riding on the trend of live-streaming lessons, Yuanfudao announced a US$2.2 billion round led by Tencent and became the world’s most valuable Edtech company with a US$15.5 billion valuation. Other Edtech giants including Yuanfudao are also eyeing an IPO in 2022.
The “Hot” Southeast Asia Market
Smaller markets like Hong Kong and Singapore are playing catch up with China. Chinamobile, one of the biggest telecom companies in Hong Kong, partners up with teachers to offer free live stream courses (Sync class) for primary school students on their UTV App. It incorporates celebrity teachers, AI-based interactive courses and study report to offer a comprehensive learning experience. Apart from the mainstream investor, Hong Kong-based education startup, Snapdesk, has raised US$50 million and by far served 3 million students over Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Japan and South Korea. It is an on-demand tutoring app focusing on self-directed learning on which subscribers can ask about 60 questions a month during tutoring sessions.
Similarly to Hong Kong, companies in Singapore cannot only focus on local demand. Emerging as a financial hub in Southeast Asia, Singapore’s Temasek has an eye for the main chance. It funded India-based Edtech platform, upGrad, and Chinese online learning app, Yiqizuoye, to expand its geographic reach.
An education shift to distance, live-stream learning will progress as the standard of future study. The fast-expanding Edtech companies are taking advantage of the current trend and reinforcing their positions through social media and free-trial marketing, making it become unstoppable even after the pandemic ends.
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