[NEWS IN FOCUS] Telecom companies get serious about education
Telecom operators are making a foray into online education amid growing demand for digital learning as people seek to avoid face-to-face contact during the coronavirus pandemic.
Prior to the arrival of Covid-19, major carriers including KT and LG U+ limited their offering to a handful of educational videos, but they recently took a further step by developing programs and subscription plans dedicated to teachers and students.
LG U+ rolled out a subscription plan for an educational service targeting elementary school students on Thursday, combining content from Educational Broadcasting System (EBS), a state-run educational television, with programs designed to help children practice English, Chinese and scientific experiments.
With a monthly payment of around 11,000 won ($9), the two-year plan will come with Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S6 Lite, which has an interface specifically designed for the service.
For other mobile devices, the platform is available in the form of an Android app.
“We plan to launch an iOS version soon and will let users of other telecom companies enroll in the service, though now it is only available for LG U+ users,” said Lee Seok-young, head of LG U+'s home media marketing communications team.
Some e-learning contents will be provided with augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) capabilities to make them more immersive.
KT is targeting teachers with its integrated platform designed to facilitate online classes.
The program, under test-operation by 11 elementary schools, is fitted with videoconferencing functions allowing for synchronous online class sessions as well as administrative features covering the management of schedule and students’ attendance and assignment reporting.
Teachers can also create online tutorials and materials on the platform that will be accessible with a link.
Under the agreement signed Wednesday with Seoul National University of Education, the pilot project will run through this year.
“[KT] will keep on improving it and plans to let private institutions such as hagwon [cram schools] use the platform,” the company said in a statement.
The telecom operator also partnered with Sigong Corporation, a smart-learning unit, to collaborate on developing e-learning courses serving home-schooling children.
KT said that the agreement, signed Wednesday, intends to bring together KT’s expertise in technology and Sigong’s proven record of developing educational content.
The two companies also vowed to develop educational technology to be exported abroad, without specifying what that entails.
Kang Kook-hyun, senior executive vice president at KT, said the company is keen on strengthening its presence in the education field.
“[KT] will contribute to reduce disparity in education at home and abroad by strengthening education technology business,” Kang said.
With the prolonged stay-at-home orders in light of the pandemic and many students registering with online classes, demand for educational technology is projected to rise.
Global education intelligence HolonIQ said that the market size of the sector will surge to $3,420 billion in 2025, from $1,520 billion in 2018.
BY PARK EUN-JEE [email@example.com]
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