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Leaders in education from around the world met August 21st at the 2019 WWEC Educator Conference X Forum to discuss the topic of education without boundaries. Dr. Pengkai Pan, the founder and CEO of ALO7, delivered the keynote speech entitled, “The Post-New Education Policy Era: Education Innovation and Trends.” He mapped the 15-year transition from traditional Chinese education to learning methods that take advantage of recent digital advances. Landmarks in this educational transition include the shift from relying on the internet to using smartphones and other mobile devices. 

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Dr. Pan delivering the keynote speech

“AI has not replaced educators or the work that they do before, during, or after a class. AI strengthens the work that educators do and helps improve the quality of teaching and research.”

Dr. Pengkai Pan, Founder and CEO of ALO7

Artificial intelligence, blended learning that combines online and offline lessons, and the adoption of 5G have all made promising inroads and continue to impact schools and education in general. These continuing advancements in technology combined with new policies implemented by China’s Ministry of Education provide schools with challenges and educational opportunities that they must seize in order to grow and develop.

Education Upgrade: From Standard Courses to Personalized Content

This year in China has been called the Year of New Educational Policy. Chinese educational leaders are aiming to lessen students’ heavy workload, regulate offline learning organizations and online education, review dual enrollment with public and private institutions, revise school entrance exams, and oversee school admissions by lottery. These structural changes have decreased the pace of other developments in learning by Chinese schools.

Despite the challenges and slowdown in some areas of educational innovation, Dr. Pan explained that many schools have paired new, research-based teaching methods with high-quality teacher training and topnotch classes. Dr. Pan discussed an English language teaching school in Guangdong as an example. The school focused on quality education, but that was not enough. They experienced slow growth. However, after cooperating with ALO7 in 2015, the company of schools began developing rapidly and are now large and successful. How did they and ALO7 partner to achieve this success? 

Three steps led to their growth: standardization, the transition to offering something innovative in their market, and finally to customization. First, the company of schools used ALO7’s standardized products in their classrooms to achieve a quick rollout of improved content. 

When their students responded well to these new methods, they incorporated ALO7’s online courseware for homework. This enabled them to offer blended learning to students—which was unusual in their market. 

Finally, the schools partnered with ALO7 for customized digital software and print textbooks. This third step has distinguished them from other educational organizations. No one in Guangdong offers the innovative, research-based education to students that this customization has provided. ALO7 has created customization services for many midsize and large educational organizations across China.

Content Upgrade: Diversified Course Content

“Right now, many children have a wide variety of ways to acquire knowledge. They can learn from storybooks, offline schools, and even online paid courses,” Dr. Pan said. But these choices are not enough to meet school and student needs. To create a diverse curriculum requires a large workforce of learning and digital experts as well as material and financial resources. 

Dr. Pan said, “Over the past 15 years, ALO7 has continuously developed high-quality content that meets the needs of educational organizations and has always provided engaging and effective English language learning products and services for K12 teachers and students.” To assist educational organizations, ALO7 has developed Reading Planet and Tales of China. These two products enhance education for students while meeting the various needs of school organizations.

Online Education App for Learning English
The Reading Planet online app complements students’ in-class activities

Reading Planet introduces original picture books with audio and classroom materials to improve both at-school and at-home learning. Based on award-winning content from popular children’s authors, Reading Planet stories are carefully leveled to guide children’s progress from simple beginnings to English reading, speaking, and listening prowess. Created for China, schools and students benefit from engaging, movement-oriented in-class activities enhanced by digital exercises and reading. Student progress is monitored and shared in individual reports for teachers and parents. This immersive, blended learning opportunity makes English progress blast off!

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Tales of China features Chinese folktales retold using English

Created by a team from seven countries that includes bestselling children’s book authors from the US and two world-class Chinese firms, Tales of China presents gripping stories of superhuman struggles and mythic grandeur punctuated by laugh-out-loud humor. These beautifully illustrated tales dance off the page to share their stories in lively audiobooks that accompany the collection. The joy and importance of this global approach to these rarely-seen cultural treasures is explained by Dr. Yu Lizhong, the Chancellor of New York University Shanghai, in his recommendation of Tales of China: “Because culture and language determine what we think and value, it is crucial to re-tell Chinese folktales using English to build bonds of understanding between Chinese and foreign children.” Aimed at students from primary level to high school, Tales of China assists schools and readers in choosing the correct book for them by relying on MetaMetrics’s accurate Lexile measurements.

Scope Upgrade: Online and Offline Integration with a Combination of Chinese and Foreign Teachers

With 15 years of experience in the Chinese education industry, Dr. Pan believes that O2O blended learning (online and offline teaching) will be the first choice for powerful educational organizations.

Dr. Pengkai Pan at WWEC conference


Dr. Pan pointed out that educational organizations succeeding in online teaching need to possess three elements:

  1.  The strict recruitment, management, and training of foreign online teachers
  2. Classes that can guarantee effective, result-based teaching and make profits
  3. The strong determination of educational organizations

To better explain O2O blended learning offered by ALO7, Dr. Pan gave an example of a large language training institution in Shanghai. He noted that the sales strategy adopted by this institution is to sell online and offline courses as a package. Keeping online and offline teaching in mind, this institution carried out marketing campaigns, developed content, and monitored the quality of their teaching. As a result, the institution, parents, and students experienced the benefits of blended learning.

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Online teachers work in tandem with offline teachers to present students with a holistic learning experience.

Technology Upgrade: From Cramming to Precision Education

Dr. Pan observed that the current AI educational products on the market, no matter how accurate and efficient they claim to be, are still exam-oriented. He believes that the monotony of repetitive drills will eventually cause children to loathe learning, a sentiment that is contrary to ALO7’s philosophy.

ALO7’s AI assistant is different from those products. It is a comprehensive system that records and analyzes each student’s performance in class. Rather than assign students an obscene amount of level-inappropriate exercises, ALO7’s software provides level-appropriate exercises for students based on their actual performance results.

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ALO7’s AI technology analyzes student and teacher performance to enhance class overall

In addition, ALO7’s Wise Classroom uses AI technology to condense the two-hour teaching process to twenty minutes. After their class, teachers will receive an in-depth report–an AI analysis. The report consists of data and a short video. From the report, teachers can learn about their students’ learning abilities and progress. Furthermore, teachers can gain insight into their own teaching behavior.

AI Report for online ESL teachers

“AI has not replaced educators or the work that they do before, during, or after a class. AI strengthens the work that educators do and helps improve the quality of teaching and research,” Dr. Pan claimed. He has always believed that technology can bring about positive changes in education. He feels it’s more important for teachers to incorporate technology into classes to foster successful world citizens and future leaders who love learning.

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