By Li Sijia
Beijing: Toutiao, China's largest news aggregator has launched an online English learning platform, recent reports say.
Christened Gogokid, the platform will engage North American teachers to offer one-on-one language lessons under major, selective and open categories, the Gogokid website says.
However, when a correspondent in Jiemian.com contacted Toutiao to confirm the veracity of the report, a manager of Gogokid said the site is still in the testing phase and has not yet been officially released.
The Gogokid website however reveals another tempting feature that could generate more footfall on its website.
The platform promises to use an array of technology-aided tools to provide a more customised experience for the learner.
For instance, using intelligent algorithm, a unique selling point of the product, the platform will test a child's English proficiency and match it with an individual teacher's teaching models to come up with the best pairing.
The platform will also employ other technologies like AI facial recognition, big data and other technologies to enhance user satisfaction, the website claims.
(1) Toutiao’s interest in online education is not new
At "eduTECH2017 Toutiao Education Industry Future Summit", Zhang Yiming and Yu Minhong spoke about "artificial intelligence + education".
The two agreed that in the combination of technology and education, it is inevitable for educational institutions to cooperate with technology companies in order to achieve the most from a blend of technology and data.
In the summit, a series of reports on education industry’s consumer data were released, covering dimensions such as children, K12, studying abroad with analysis and comparison of consumers' ages, regions, and interests.
Xu Yilong, deputy editor-in-chief of Toutiao, said that in 2017, articles on education at Toutiao have been read more than 10.7 billion times.
Toutiao is also helping many education brands to promote themselves.
According to Chen Duye, general manager of Toutiao’s marketing center, the number of its business partners from education industry increased by 263% between 2016 and 2017.
“The growth of new technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data, and cloud computing has provided the foundation for the upgrading and innovation of education industry. For the young people born into this digital age, teaching methods as well as education’s connotation and denotation have been changing. The integration of internet and education will create a digital and personalized education system which will build a new model for talent training”, Toutiao’s spokesperson said.
Although Gogokid is still in the testing phase, ensuring its robust publicity and marketing while keeping the cost of obtaining customers to a minimum should not be a problem, given the enviable internet traffic that Toutiao enjoys.
However, mere traffic generation is not the core of online education. The quality of education is the core competitiveness.
This explains why previous attempts in the domain by Internet giants such as BAT have fallen flat. No surprise then that their products, be it Tencent Classroom, Taobao Education, or Baidu Chuanke, have bombed.
Meituan, a Chinese food review and delivery also intends to invest in the education industry. In January 2016, Meituan set up an education and training services department. In April of this year, its product “Studying aboard Channel” was launched.
Today, Toutiao is beginning to seize the online education market. Whether or not it can rely on its algorithm to continue its previous success is still a question that remains to be answered by the market.