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Australian ed-tech startups see opportunities in China

Editor: Li Kun 丨CCTV.com

08-18-2015 16:10 BJT

By Tom McGregor, freelancer based in Beijing

Historically for generation after generation, children going to school had been a routine. Students sat on desks with textbooks, notepads and pens; listening to teachers giving lectures in front of chalkboards. They raised hands to ask questions.

Yet times have changed since many classrooms have transformed into hi-tech learning spaces. Teachers utilize large-screen projectors equipped with audio and video to give PowerPoint presentations. Some students have stopped using pen and paper, because that's old-fashion.

Instead, they pull out their smartphones to audio-record or even video-record lectures while typing notes into laptops. And if they have questions for teachers; they instant message it on social media.

Even China's traditional schools are headed towards hi-tech upgrades. Accordingly, Australian education technology (ed-tech) companies are seeking partnership deals with Chinese companies to create more ‘smart classrooms.’

Aussie ed-tech startups go on mission to China

The Age Website reports that 10 ed-tech startups from New South Wales (NSW) are visiting Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Shanghai and Beijing this week. The NSW Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events Stuart Ayres is leading a delegation to encourage Aussie firms to connect with Chinese companies.

"There is so much hunger for Australian educational innovations," Ayres told The Age. "It's a match-making process almost. Local partners may not necessarily be distributors; they could also be those seeking a service or digital platforms that could solve problems these Chinese companies face."

A few Aussie startups joining the trip are: a teacher-training software firm – ELLA; reading tips software company – Chattykidz; and bibliography software management firm – ComWriter.

What China can learn from American schools

Australian ed-tech startups have focused on software, but elsewhere, such as the rural heartland of the US, schools in Indiana are participating in ‘smart classrooms’ programs. School administrators in the State have noticed remarkable academic progress from students.

Several Indianapolis school corporations have initiated one-to-one technology platforms in their school districts, according to NWI.com Website. Last year, 2,000 students from grades 6-12 at Lowell Middle School and Lowell High School have received MacBook Air laptops to bring to the classrooms.

"Since implementation of the one-to-one laptop initiative," Tri-Creek school superintendent Debra Howe told NWI.com. "The district has realized an increase of dual college credits (taken) and a number of students (more) engaged in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and career and technical courses."

Looking ahead on future ed-tech trends

Creating ‘smart classrooms’ can be expensive; but the Chinese government may likely to boost funding for education. Hence ed-tech companies can offer their services, hardware and software to upgrade China's schools.

Meanwhile, it's important to recognize the latest trends in the industry. For example, online courses for higher education continue to grow in popularity. Professors give video lectures posted online for students, which are augmented into virtual classrooms.

Students discover new learning methods via peer-to-peer education. They log on to group chats to ask other students questions and communicate their answers in return. Additionally, students taking online course can get ‘digital credits’ that can be verified as they pursue a graduation certificate that they can show to potential employers.

Big Data can play a crucial role as well. Ed-tech companies can store classroom statistics and test results on a cloud server and generate reports to reveal which teaching methods are most effective and to adapt for solutions.

Learning goes hi-tech and it's here to stay

Australian ed-tech companies recognize the tremendous potential in the Chinese market. Chinese families maintain traditional values, such as imparting the value of a good education for their children.

Parents are willing to spend extra money to purchase hardware and software tools to enlighten their kids to perform better in school. They do so, because they want them to find good jobs when joining the workforce as adults. Australian startups also offer software for job skills training too.

 

( The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )

 

 

Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

Panview offers an alternative angle on China and the rest of the world through the analyses and opinions of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

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