China’s education tech startups score new pupils in pandemic

China’s education tech startups score new pupils in pandemic

AI homework app from Zuoyebang finds answers in a flash

BEIJING — Educational technology companies are booming in China, propelled by artificial-intelligence-equipped startups, as students find online platforms a convenient way to keep learning during coronavirus restrictions.

Beijing-based startup Zuoyebang has picked up about 50 million users over the past year, and now boasts a total of 170 million.

“When I get stuck on homework, I can find an answer right away, so my studying is efficient,” said a 16-year-old high school student in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. Zuoyebang’s service helped bring up her grades, she said.

Zuoyebang’s homework support app is a big reason for its rising popularity. Students in elementary to high school can upload a photo of a problem and the app shows an answer and an explanation in just several seconds.

The app’s AI searches its enormous trove of big data. The app has roughly 250 million problems on file — up by 70 million over the past year. Beginning this year, the system can handle multiple problems in a single photo. Problems previously had to be sent one at a time.

Zuoyebang is using its free app to reach out to students and parents and gain business for its fee-based online lessons, the company’s mainstay operation. “Our name recognition has increased and we are getting students for tuition-based lessons,” said a public relations manager. Zuoyebang had about 7.8 million students taking courses this past summer, five times the figure in summer 2019.