The 2016 White Paper on Internet-based Learning in China covers various fields of education (e.g. pre-school, elementary, higher, continuing, and vocational education, as well as tutoring and enterprise universities) and education-related, Internet-based enterprises.

Many topics are included in the white paper, including an overview of Internet-based learning developments, the current status of Internet-based learning, and case studies of new developments in Internet-based learning teaching, key issues, and development trends in 2016. It was designed to interpret behaviour and trends in Internet-based learning among current user groups across different education fields, utilising big data from multiple dimensions and angles. In addition, practical case studies from representative regional schools and excellent enterprises demonstrate the integration of technology and education, and the colourful development process. Since the release of the White Paper on Internet Learning in China, jointly launched in 2014 by the Ministry of Education’s Education Management Information Centre, Beijing Normal University, and Baidu Library, the White Paper has aroused great concern from the general society. It has been learnt that, with the release of the 2016 White Paper on Internet-based Learning in China, Baidu Library will simultaneously open themed subjects based on the White Paper. In addition, it will provide a platform for users to submit case studies, which will greatly support the 2017 White Paper.

10 conclusions on Internet-based learning provided by Baidu via big data analysis

1. Number of Internet-based learners varies by region.

East China has the greatest number of Internet-based learners. The number is relatively small in both Northeast and Northwest China. In South, North, Southwest, and Northwest China, the development of Internet-based learning has gained great momentum.

2. Internet-based learning is moving towards a trend of lifelong learning.

In 2015, Internet-based learners mostly aged 18 to 24; the learners were largely "digital natives." In 2016, Internet-based learners were most commonly aged between 25 and 34. The average age of Internet-based learners is increasingly growing older, with a skewed distribution.

3. Learners show satisfaction with Internet access.

The proportion of Internet-based learners satisfied or very satisfied with the network response speed reached 62.13%, while the proportion of tutors satisfied or very satisfied with the network response speed reached 74.64%.

4. Users have a strong passion for Internet-based learning.

84.80% of learners, 72.40% of tutors, and 70.20% of parents agree or absolutely agree with the concept of Internet-based learning.

5. Internet-based learning promotes integrated development of formal and informal learning.

The proportion of learners who use smartphones has decreased, while that of learners who use iPads, laptops, and PCs has increased. This shows that Internet learning is moving towards a formal learning context. Internet-based learning supports informal learning, and learning is inherently demanded by learners.

6. Cost of Internet-based learning products and services is relatively low.

As high as 59% of parents have never purchased any Internet-based learning service.

7. Purchase of Internet-based learning service presents a polarisation trend.

In 2015 and 2016, respectively, parents who adopted Internet-based learning spent basically the same amount of money on other educational products; 33.51% of the parents who purchased Internet services spent over RMB 400 on Internet-based learning.

8. The development of Internet-based learning has great momentum.

In 2015, financing for the online education industry reached nearly USD 1.8 billion. In 2016, the Internet education industry was still a hot field for both those raising capital and investors.

9. Enterprise giants are distributed in the "Internet+Education" industry.

Overall trends across the industry in 2016 show Internet enterprises accelerated their entry into the education field. Traditional IT enterprises have further intensified their integration with Internet-based education.

10. Enhanced support services badly needed to develop Internet-based learning.

Nearly 60% of learners have never received support service, and 32% of learners who have received services found the learner support service mediocre, or even unsatisfactory.

Demonstrate the current practical process of Internet learning in various education fields

According to the White Paper, in terms of the development process of "Internet + Education" from the viewpoint of learning, Internet-based learning occurs more frequently and effectively. The age and location of learners, industry expansion, learners’ qualities, and the emergence of informal learning all demonstrate the profound impact Internet –based learning is having on education reform and development in China. A new teaching system that serves the development of both students and a learning environment that supports lifelong learning is rapidly emerging.

Associate managing editor of the editorial board of the White Paper and deputy director of the Education Department’s Project Research Centre of Digital Learning and Education Public Service, Li Yushun, said that, driven by the basic trend of Internet-based learning, the practice of education informatisation in various learning stages is migrating to the Internet, showing different developmental features, each with their own process and rules. Internet-based learning for pre-school education is entering a launch phase, with a prosperous outlook; elementary education is diving deeper into integration and innovation; vocational education is accelerating into the start-up stage; higher education has entered the explosive period of learning development; continuing education is constructing a lifelong education system enhanced by Internet-based learning; and tutoring services are steadily developing Internet-based learning resources.
Also, according to the White Paper, national and quality education, personalised and lifelong learning are important features of education development in the information era. With the ever-deepening marketisation and informatisation of education, the Internet platform will host even more Internet-based learning products and features that cater to students. The prosperous development of online education will have a profound impact on various fields of education. All links of Internet learning should closely coordinate with each other. Enterprises should create innovative Internet-based learning products, and relevant ministries should provide constructive decision-making services to lead the reform and development of education in the era of "Internet Plus."

By the Chinese Education Information Website (