A friend of mine who is a university professor was invited by Tencent for a weekend workshop to learn about technology and education.
Tencent is the fifth-largest Internet company in the world after Google, Amazon, Ebay and Facebook as of April 2014. Its mobile -based product Wechat combines the features of Facebook + Google Hangout with payment function. Wechat’s user base is said to be above 400 millions. That number is close to the whole population of New Zealand.
Last year, Tencent collected proposals from academics in order to research the effects of social network (mostly on education?). Around 10 proposals were selected to kick off this industry-academic collaboration. That is why my friend was invited for the workshop.
Netease, another Internet gateway company in China, is also eyeing education. Its education products include Open163, a platform to translate English video content and Youdao dictionary – a search-based e-dictionary. The report released by Netease [Overview of China’s online education 2013-2014] did a good job discovering online learners’ behaviour, motivation and status.
It takes two to tango, in the field of education technology: educators and technologists. With both group working together, the future online education canvas looks promising.