Alibaba Marches into Online Education
COVID-19 and China
A child using a tablet. Image credit: Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash

With Edtech companies such as Yuanfudao (猿辅导), Zuoyebang (作业帮) and Xueba (学霸君) suddenly catching the limelight and seeing this as an opportunity, major Internet companies are stepping up their efforts in the online education track as well. 

According to Tech Planet’s (Tech星球), media platform, focusing on cutting-edge Internet technology, official WeChat account, Alibaba (BABA: NYSE) recently launched a product called 帮帮答, directly translated to ‘help me answer.’ It is a paid question and answer platform for primary and secondary school students for academic problems. This is the first independent product launched by Alibaba in the field of education. 

It is understood that the ‘help me answer’ app has the function of obtaining course tuition through an online payment. Other than live courses, the tutor can choose to answer the questions by sending pictures, voice recording, video recording, etc. In instances where a problem cannot be solved, users can publish rewards through the app, for other professional teachers to answer the question.

At present, this product is still in the trial phase, so the current design and functions are still simple and basic. Compared with similar products such as Zuoyebang and Yuanfudao, etc., a lot of features are missing. But we believe that in the near future more functions will be added. 

The outbreak of COVID-19, as mentioned above has boosted online education in terms of the number of users. According to a recently released iiMedia's (艾媒) research report on the development of China's online education industry, the online education market in China reached CNY 404.1 billion in 2019 and it is expected to reach CNY 453.8 billion in 2020. The report further stated that the total number of online education users in China is expected to reach 309 million by 2020.

Prior to the release of this app Alibaba’s enterprise communication and collaboration platform, DingTalk rolled out a bunch of new features for classroom settings, including live-streaming lessons that can accommodate as many as 300 participants and an online testing and grading system. According to Alibaba, at least 50 million students from elementary to high school across China have signed up for DingTalk’s online teaching programs conducted in tandem with local education authorities as of February 10. 

The first time Alibaba entered online education was back in 2013 when it launched TaobaoTongxue (tongxue means schoolmate in Chinese), an online course market. Teachers, education organizations or agencies, or third-party online education services can set up Taobao stores to sell live broadcasts, recorded videos, offline courses or events, or courses on third-party sites. In the same year, Yunfeng Capital an investment firm co-founded by Alibaba CEO and founder Jack Ma backed 1 on 1 online English teaching unicorn VIPKid. 

Tencent, Alibaba, Baidu (BIDU:NASDAQ), three companies behind China’s ever-growing internet ecosystems, have been known for capturing every emerging field in tech and given that online education is a hot topic with emerging opportunities, and founders of Edtech companies like Zhang Bangxin of TAL Education seeing their wealth increase by USD 1.7 billion, giving him a current net worth of at least USD 10 billion, surpassing that of’s founder Richard Liu (USD 8.7 billion) and Baidu’s Robin Li (USD 7.1 billion), there is no doubt we will see new moves such as this. 

You can also read about these tech giants’ exploring the AI+Education field in an article published by EqualOcean, click here.

Editor: Edward Turkson

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