Part II – IV Analysis on Market Features of Online Primary and Secondary Schools
I. Current situations of the online primary and secondary school market
The year 1996 see the establishment of China’s first online school CHINAEDU.COM, pioneering China’s online education. With Beijing 101 Middle School’s teaching resources, this online school has grown rapidly, and the slogan of “studying at home just like in a key school” also has made parents and students cry for quality education and teaching resources. During the early years of rapid development, its employees even needed to work overtime to collect money from lining parents on weekends.
Good market reaction created a sea of followers. Beijing No. 4 High School and Huanggang High School set up their own online school very soon, forming a trend that famous schools opened their online schools. This trend was very popular nationwide in both 1999 and 2000. The number of online schools nationwide at the peak was about 8,000, meaning that almost good schools in every place established their own online school. But that was a flash in the pan, because most of online companies basically closed down due to the lack of an appropriate survival model.
The breakout of the epidemic “SARS” in 2003 was helpful for the rush, but after the ending of the plague, the fever gradually cooled as students and parents, coupled with founders, gradually became calm. Many online schools disappeared due to the coolness and fierce competition in the market, together with short-lived trendsetters. Both The High School Affiliated to Renmin University of China and Tsinghua University High School’s online school gradually disappeared after being acquired by Lenovo and Tongfang respectively, leaving Beijing 101 Middle School and Beijing No. 4 High School’s online school to support the market alone, while the online school built by influential Huanggang High School in South China has been purchased by a Shenzhen-based learning machine manufacturer in recent years.
Contrary to increasingly shrinking old online schools, in recent years, people have generally got optimistic about education industry as the Internet gradually becomes mature. Many Internet workers get involved in online education, having the presence of newcomers in the previous market, including many small websites built by individuals, some small-sized institutions supported by business angels and some organizations invested by offline education institutions. But only a few of newcomers have kept a foothold in this market, including such listed company as Xueda. Xueersi is a bigger player among young online schools having been established in recent years.
Xueersi is the new blood brought into the market in recent years. Having taken Korean Mega Study that is listed in the United States as the model, it copies Mega Study’s model. The investment of tens of millions Yuan was a big one in online education a few years ago. In its early days, it saw online education as its future strategic direction and aimed to surpass or replace its offline scale. It posted the revenue of about RMB 100m in 2014. The business for online schools grew at a faster pace in 2015 and many other online schools were relatively small.
Except Xueersi, online primary and secondary learning market is now mainly dominated by online schools built by Beijing 101 Middle School, Beijing No. 4 High School, The High School Affiliated to Renmin University of China, as well as such online schools as Xueersi, Dezhi and Jd100. Online education is popular only to primary and secondary students, not in line with China’s great demand for educating children. But many people are optimistic about online education, mostly from China’s large demand for offline primary and secondary training market.
II. Analysis on the market of online primary and secondary school
Online primary and secondary school has existed for almost twenty years, but on the whole, it has not developed at a fast pace mainly due to:
- Parents’ low acceptance
Parents are mainly born in the 1960s and 70s when the Internet began becoming popular. Some of them do not surf the Internet, so they accept online education only to a limited extent and tend to choose the face-to-face teaching.
On the other hand, online school offers great freedom, but parents still choose the face-to-face teaching and have their children boarded in training institutions that limit students’ freedom. Later, it adopts the strategy of opening learning centers in all places, making it have a real sense of presence.
- Primary and secondary students’ poor self-control
With poor self-control, primary and secondary students are easily attracted by games or chats while learning via the open network, which has always made parents concerned, thus making it difficult to improve parents’ acceptance of online school.
- Limited time spent by students
Secondary students are online school’s main user group, but they spend limited time on online school because they are mostly occupied by classroom teaching and offline training class, constraining the application of online school (including other online education forms).
- Less interaction of learning offered by online primary and secondary schools
The main teaching method adopted by online schools in its early days is recorded broadcast, causing less learning interaction and less learning services for students, so the result is not satisfactory. Online education becomes very popular to students as in recent years, online schools represented by Xueersi have increasingly adopt live broadcast with the performance becoming better and better.
With the constant development of information technologies and increasingly higher acceptance of online education by students, online education will develop to improve interactive teaching and learning and teaching effect and have a large space for development.
- Part II – V The Industrial Structure of Online Primary and Secondary Education
This is a series of articles from Blue Book of China’s Online Education Industry, authored by our partner China Online Education Research Institute (COERI). Each post is a chapter from the blue book.