China’s Got Educational Game

Inside the world’s largest education system with an edtech entrepreneur.

GUEST COLUMN | by Michael Lee

CREDIT UMFUNThe kindergarten to grade 12 (K-12) educational system in China is the largest in the world, comprising of approximately 210 million students. The K-12 educational system in China generated $294 billion in revenues in 2013, increasing from $150 billion in 2009 according to Frost & Sullivan. People in China spend a higher portion of their household incomes on education than people in some other Asian countries do at 30 percent (17 percent for Korea, 10 percent for Japan). China has more students studying in the Canada, UK and U.S.A. than any other overseas group. More than 304,000 Chinese students studied in American colleges and universities in 2015 alone.

Since 2015, we have served 2.52 million students, 1.32 million parents, and 380,000 teachers and we are just getting started.

As a Hong Kong-based technology entrepreneur, it was clear there was a market developed specifically for the Chinese K-12 system that made learning fun while bringing big data analysis to bear. A common stereotype about Chinese students is that they are believed to be extremely disciplined, methodical and great in mathematics. The reality is that Chinese students are no different than American students. Chinese students want to excel at academics and also have a good time. Like American students, they are avid smart phone users.

A typical Chinese class size is comprised of 55 students; a large number of students to keep on track. Teachers were desperate to gain insight about how each student was progressing with the ability to make strategic interventions as necessary. When I started developing educational software side by side with teachers, ‘gamification’ meant playing video games. Adaptive Learning was not even a buzzword. We put the two together and the result was a deep engagement by our student subscribers.

UMFun, my company’s K-12 flagship product, combines “gamification” and adaptive learning. It is a cloud-based assessment and learning analytics platform that can intelligently analyze and adapt to a student’s performance and personalizes the delivery of proprietary educational items in accordance with their individual learning needs. The time saved by being able to identify required interventions gives teachers more time to guide each student through those identified problem areas; adjusting learning to match their needs.

Students, teachers and administrators crave education that is personalized and accelerated. Our patent pending (US & China) algorithms intelligently analyze a student’s performance and personalizes the delivery of proprietary educational items to address their individual learning needs and to improve students’ performance in core skill areas:

  • Teachers can create custom formative assessments to target improvement efforts; adjust instruction throughout the year, and develop personalized learning strategies for students struggling with a particular standard.
  • Students’ performance can be intelligently analyzed and adapted to deliver learning items dictated by their individual needs.
  • Parents receive real-time standards based reports and progress charts.
  • School administrators can compare student performance across classrooms or across other school districts.
  • District administrators can use it to create benchmark assessments. The results can be used to predict performance on other tests.

Our solution is currently available on China Mobile’s subscription based “AND! Education” platform in the Shanxi, Ningxia, Guangxi, Guizhou and Guangdong provinces, which services over 16,600,000 paid subscribers. Established in 2003, China Mobile’s “AND! Education” K-12 subscription-based communication platform is the largest of its kind in the world, used primarily by teachers, students, parents and schools through the provinces that China Mobile services. Currently, this platform has over 90,000,000 paid subscribers system-wide and generates over US$2.1 billion in sales annually.

We have a major milestone coming up later this year. UMFun has been part of the China Mobile K-12 Education platform as a free App, and has gained a solid audience amongst students, parents and teachers as a fun and engaging way to learn. In August 2016, we will launch a Premium Application to coincide with the beginning of the academic school year, and generate revenue for the first time.

Working together with China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile phone operator by subscriber base, we are leveling the playing field for education. Since 2015, we have served 2.52 million students, 1.32 million parents, and 380,000 teachers and we are just getting started.

The market for mobile computing devices in K-12 worldwide has grown by 18 percent, according to Futuresource Consulting. China is the second-largest mobile learning buying country after the United States reports Ambient Insight. They report “by 2017, China will overtake the US as the top buying country. In 2014, China accounted for 26 percent of all Mobile Learning revenues in Asia. By 2019, China will account for 31 percent of all Mobile Learning revenues in Asia.”

China clearly embraces mobile online education. “A total of $634.4 million was invested in online education companies in China in 2014; this is just over 26 percent of all funding that went to all of the learning technology suppliers across the globe in 2014,” reports Ambient Insight.

Based in Hong Kong, Michael Lee is CEO, President and Chairman of the Board of UMeWorld,, an online K-12 adaptive learning education platform. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Applied Mathematics from the University of Western Ontario. Write to:


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