Smart education, a concept that comes from the smart planet, completely changes the form and method of traditional education. Smart education provides learners access to digital resources through wireless networks, enabling higher teaching flexibility and efficiency. This article discusses the concept, four-tier architecture, evolution, market size, key players, challenges and future opportunities of smart education.
The Concept of Smart Education
Smart education, also known as educational informatization, refers to using modern information technology to promote educational reform and development. This will lead to a new form of education – informationized education.
The technical characteristics of smart education are digitalization, networking, intelligentization, and multi-media. The basic characteristics are openness, sharing, interaction, collaboration and ubiquity. The ultimate goal is to promote the modernization of education through educational informatization and change the traditional mode of information technology.
Four-tier Architecture of Smart Education
The four-tier architecture of smart education is essential, including the internet of things, cloud computing, big data and ubiquitous network.
Internet of Things(IoT). IoT supports education in three aspects: classroom teaching, extracurricular learning and education management. Typical applications include smart classrooms, physical health smart monitoring systems, self-adaptive push systems for learning resources, education security monitoring, and smart management of teaching equipment.
Cloud computing. Cloud computing application focuses on sharing educational resources (hardware, platform, software and learning resources). In addition, cloud computing can also be used to create a cloud learning environment where students can enjoy various learning services anytime and anywhere through a terminal device. The learning process data will be stored in the cloud in time to ensure that the learning data will never be lost and provide data support for analyzing learning behaviors.
Big data. In the smart education system, big data can be used to monitor public opinion in education, evaluate the level of educational informatization, adjust the layout and education funds, evaluate the development of students and conduct scientific research based on big data.
Ubiquitous network. The ubiquitous network is the supporting technology for the Internet of Things, big data, cloud computing and other technologies. It is the basis for comprehensive connectivity and seamless access to the smart education system. This allows users to enjoy high-quality network services across multiple networks unimpeded.
The Evolution of Smart Education
Intelligent education can be divided into two eras: the age of informationized education 1.0 and the age of informationized education 2.0.
At this stage, schools mainly purchase hardware, which is the era of hardware popularization. The main goal is to realize that every school has a broadband network, every class shares high-quality resources, and every person has an online learning space. At the same time, a public service platform for education resources and a public service platform for education management are built. Classroom teaching mainly uses tape, video recorders and other auxiliary equipment, and the penetration rate is low.
At this stage, multimedia equipment used in teaching has become dominant in education. The multimedia in-center control system, touch-screen all-in-one computer, tablet computer and other multimedia devices have become the main teaching equipment in the teaching field. Network teaching recording system is also integrated into the field of education.
Smart Education Market Sizing and Key Players
From 2015 to 2020, the expenditure on smart education in China was relatively stable, with an annual growth rate of 7%-8%. According to ASCKI, China’s education informatization expenditure is expected to reach CNY 343.6 billion by 2022.
Smart education has grown rapidly in China, from CNY 98.4 billion in 2011 to CNY 274.4 billion in 2020, up 8.72% year-on-year. It can be seen that the smart education market is currently showing a steady growth trend.
In 2020, China’s smart education market will reach CNY 274.4 billion, including CNY 65.04 billion in smart campus investment, CNY 102.76 billion in smart classroom and other investments, and CNY 106.6 billion in online education investment. It can be seen that the proportion of investment in online education increases significantly, and the development focus of smart education in the future may be centered on online education.
The smart education market includes four main segments: enrollment marketing, educational management, enrollment management and teaching management. The leading enterprises are shown in the figure below.
Enrollment marketing. Many educational institutions advertise enrollment through short video platforms (TikTok, Quick Hand) to accurately target customer groups. At the same time, specialized institutions focus on the online marketing of educational brands (Youzan Education, Xiaoe Tech).
Educational management. Many companies specialize in the management of educational affairs. Xiaobao Online has helped more than 110,000 educational brands realize information management. NewCapec is a solution and service provider focusing on campus, government and enterprise software applications and intelligent terminals, committed to building a smart campus. Xiaoyang Group is a leading provider of full-stack intelligent education products and services, and builds an intelligent education ecology covering all scenarios, schemes and services.
Enrollment management. Some companies use technologies to help students complete voluntary applications and balance high-quality educational resources. Ipoweru is committed to providing high-quality digital education resources and full supporting services, providing schools with personalized solutions for talent training. Beijing HQ Education Technology has always been committed to digital assistance in individualized education. Optimal volunteer is a big data platform focusing on college entrance examinations.
Teaching management. Teaching management can be divided into student end and teacher end. The student side mainly refers to online course guidance institutions such as NYSE:TAL, New Oriental, and so on. The teacher side mainly includes live broadcast platforms(POLYV, BAIJIAYUN, talk-cloud), teacher work development platforms(GuoGuo Technology), and online education tools (Plaso).
Smart education has a wide range of application prospects, including the conversion of offline education scene to online, and the integration of more intelligent devices into offline education scene. Some application scenarios are as follows:
Smart classroom. Internet of Things technology has already been used in the classroom. Blackboards are gradually being transformed into electronic whiteboards that can demonstrate by touch and other means. The air conditioning, lighting, and curtains in the classroom can be automatically adjusted by the temperature and humidity sensor. Smart speakers can broadcast school announcements. Cameras have also been used for students’ attendance management.
Immersive interaction. With the help of VR/AR technology, a simulation environment and practical training can be built so that students can learn immersively. In the future, there may be a hologram projection of the classroom, and the experience will be even more extraordinary.
Online teaching. Online teaching includes live teaching implementation platforms and teaching resource management platforms. Online teaching mainly relies on audio and video codecs and cloud computing.
Teaching assistance. The smart teaching platform can be used for course scheduling management, homework management, examination management, attendance management, and so on.
Challenges and Future Opportunities
With the promotion of smart education, schools have been equipped with large smart screens, multimedia equipment and other hardware, but the usage rate is low. The hardware products of smart education have been mature, then how to upgrade the content resources should be one of the key directions of future development. At the same time, the continuous development of smart education has changed the emphasis from hardware to application. Manufacturers should not only provide hardware equipment, but also integrate the overall information technology solution.
Future smart education’s core is integrating information application with teaching and learning effectively. Smart education should be carried out with focus, reflection and flexibility according to the conditions of different regions. In the future, teachers can provide systematic guidance in the classroom, and students can explore more personalized learning areas online, thus forming a seamless closed-loop teaching structure.