We’ve known for some time that the take-up of  the Internet in Asia is accelerating faster than in nearly any other region. But within that there are some surprisingly rapid growth curves for online learning. Australian educational organisations and suppliers should be looking at these figures and thinking about how they can develop successful digital strategies to enable them to enter or develop with the Asian online learning market.

South Korea’s e-learning industry grew 11.8 percent on-year in 2009 despite a general slowdown in overall economic growth.

Up to 50.4 percent of male Internet users in South Korea resorted to e-learning while the figure was relatively low for women at 46.1 percent.

This statistic was contained in a  report by the Ministry of Knowledge Economy and went on to say that sales of local e-learning businesses reached 2.09 trillion won (US$ 1.82 billion) last year, with the total number of service providers surging 19.5 percent to 1,368. The South Korean economy, hit hard by the global economic crisis, managed to pull off just 0.2 percent growth last year.

The report states that there has been an average of 10 percent annual growth since 2004 in the online educational and training market. In 2004, the South Korean government started to support the e-learning industry in earnest, and the number of  industry players has risen 39.6 percent every year during the cited period.

Most users were in the 6-19 age group with numbers plunging sharply for people over 50.

The ministry said sales of e-learning services and content grew 14.2 percent and 13.4 percent, respectively, last year, while businesses in the solutions industry, which includes consulting, contracted 4.7 percent from a year ago.

It said the industry hired 22,679 people, up 5.9 percent or 1,256 workers from the previous year.

It seems that the here again the traditional methods used by Australian educationalists to supply quality educational and training services into Asia are being challenged by emerging digital learning technologies and the digital distribution methods used to reach the consumer.

With significant population clusters, widespread broadband subscriptions and a growing acceptance of online learning as a valid educational path for students Australian educators should be preparing themselves by developing at least a complimentary digital strategy to accompany their traditional provision and distribution strategies. To now do so would seem to be courting the possibility of an increasingly shrinking market as students (and their parents!) embrace quality online learning options.

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