China: Report – AI in the classroom

June 1, 2020

China: Report – AI in the classroom

Nesta and Yi-Ling Liu publish an essay on how China is implementing AI in the classroom

The Chinese government is eager to elevate China to the forefront of AI and the use of AI in the classroom.  The Covid-19 outbreak will likely reinforce the government’s ambitions as 260 million students have been forced to learn from home in recent months.  Three significant factors have been identified which will help China develop educational AI solutions in the coming years.  These are the willingness of Chinese parents to pay for tutoring, the massive data pool that it can use to develop better algorithms and access to venture capital for EdTech start-ups.

The essay concludes with a recommendation that students, educators and parents from other countries should learn from China’s mistakes in the coming years, in areas such as educational equity, effectiveness and ethics.

million Chinese students studying online during the Covid-19 outbreak

The Chinese government’s drive to be the global leader in the use of AI.

The willingness of Chinese parents to spend on tuition which has encouraged innovation and experimentation.

The large dataset available to AI start-ups obtained from the Chinese public education system.

The availability of venture capital and seed financing for AI start-ups.

Can public schools collaborate effectively with private companies?

How to address the urban-rural divide and the division between the individual cities?

Can AI help students develop skills such as critical thinking, emotional resilience and collaboration?

Various Chinese companies are currently developing AI solutions for use within classrooms.  Here are some notable examples that have been described in the essay:


An English language learning platform, VIPKid uses AI algorithms to match students and teachers based on preferred learning styles.


An online learning platform, 17zuoye uses AI algorithms to more efficiently deliver homework and grades to students.


An English language learning platform, Liulishuo uses AI algorithms to provide feedback to students via a software bot and grammar detection and correction software.

Squirrel AI

An adaptive learning platform, Squirrel AI combines both online learning and face-face instruction and operates over 1700 schools in China.

“  Can an adaptive learning system teach students how to cultivate supportive, interpersonal relationships – crucial to effective collaboration? Can a robot tutor teach emotional resilience – a skill critical to navigating the uncertainty of the 21st century? Can a video tutorial show students how to make meaning from their own experiences and learn from their mistakes? ”  Yi-Ling Liu, Visiting Scholar, NYU Arthur L Carter Journalism Institute