Private tutoring businesses in China are exploring new growth avenues since the introduction of China’s “Double Reduction” policy, which stipulated a reduction of homework and off-campus academic programs in an effort to reduce stress and promote mental health. With the rising popularity of ChatGPT, China’s private tutoring industry has started to incorporate AI into its training products.
On February 23, a financial report released by NetEase‘s intelligent learning platform Youdao showed that its net revenue in 2022 was 5.01 billion yuan ($724 million), a year-on-year increase of 24.8%, while its net loss was 720.9 million yuan ($104 million), compared with its 895.4 million yuan ($129 million) net loss in 2021.
This improvement is in part due to AI. “Years of experience have taught us that the full value of AI cannot be realized on its own. To effectively support users, technologies must be integrated with sound business scenarios.” Zhou Feng, CEO of NetEase Youdao, concluded.
In the conference call following the release of the financial report, Zhou said that Youdao has been committed to the application of Transformer, a deep learning model, for many years. Additionally, their partnership with chip manufacturer Rockchip has allowed Transformer to run more efficiently on intelligent hardware.
Duan Yitao, chief scientist of NetEase Youdao, commented, “Youdao is exploring the application of ChatGPT-related technology in learning devices, and this process has deepened our understanding of ChatGPT.”
TAL Education Group launched an AI lecture robot “Xiao π” and would use ChatGPT-related technologies to improve its educational products.
iFlytek, which offers voice recognition and automated translation services, said the company has prioritized the development of a generative pre-training large-scale AI model in December. ChatGPT-related technology will be used in its educational products and learning tools as well. iFlytek will hold a product launch event in May.
Before researching ChatGPT-related technologies, tutoring businesses must consider ways to deter the misuse or abuse of AI in education. According to a survey of Study.com, an American online education platform, 89% of US college students use ChatGPT to complete homework, 53% use ChatGPT to write papers, and 48% use ChatGPT to complete exams. Many universities have taken a firm stance against ChatGPT. For example, on February 17, the University of Hong Kong sent out an email to teachers and students explicitly prohibiting the use of ChatGPT or other similar AI tools in all classes, assignments, and assessments of the university. Prior to this, Stanford University had launched a program called DetectGPT to ascertain whether bodies of text were generated by AI tools.