Students use VR devices to learn about science and technology in Central China's Hunan province on March 14, 2018 Image credit: China Daily
Both Chinese companies and the Chinese government have launched concerted efforts to become leaders in virtual and augmented reality.
On a national level, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) established the Industry of Virtual Reality Alliance (IVRA) to grow the ecosystem. The alliance includes over 170 partners including private companies and academic institutions such as the Beijing Institute of Technology. The alliance also includes non-Chinese partners, such as Columbia University in the US.
Despite the national level, there is also activity on a local level. Examples include the Shenzhen Municipal Government developing the China VR Research Institute. The Beidouwan Virtual Reality Town is also being created in the Guizhou Province backed by the Guian government. These are 2 examples of many, and each initiative will dedicate funding and resources to advance training and education using VR.
VR Education Market in China
Education has been a significant focus of the Chinese government, making China one of the most attractive markets globally for VR education.
China's VR market expanded 164 percent in 2017 to RMB 16 billion (USD $2.5 billion). The VR education market is also growing fast. In 2016, the sum of VR education projects in public schools only (government sourcing) was RMB 0.6 billion. In 2017, the figure was doubled to RMB 1.2 billion. It is expected it to be doubled again in 2018 to reach around RMB 2.4 billion.
Strategy Analytics and Huawei’s new white paper, Education and Training Ignite the VR Market – A Win-Win Opportunity for Telecom Operators and VR Players, shows how the transformative technology of VR is having an impact by improving education and training, and the role that operators can play in further improving the uptake of technology for the benefit of students and trainees.
Report author, David MacQueen, said, “VR training and education is literally changing the way people learn, by delivering lessons and training that are either not practical or even possible in the real world. VR improves knowledge retention by bringing personal experience into training and education. Despite being an early stage market, VR education is showing promising signs of market growth, including the increasing investments governments are making in ICT in education, and particularly the Chinese government. Increased funding from governments and other institutions in both China and abroad will continue to grow this market in the coming few years.”
White Paper Extracts
VR provides one of the most important aspects of learning that no other technology can match - experience. VR education has the power to change how we learn.
The biggest driver for VR education market is the education reform in Chinese public schools. These schools are transforming their education mode from traditional “force-feeding” to heuristic interactive teaching. In this transformation, schools have strong demand for new technologies and solutions to provide students new experiences.
The markets for VR education and VR training are very different, with a different client base, different funding and different business models. So despite many similarities in terms of technology, the typical pattern is that companies act as providers of either VR education or VR training, but typically not both.
Here are two examples of VR Education providers gaining traction in China: