The fact that eLearning is a growing industry isn’t exactly a secret: The North-American and European markets are moving at breakneck speed. Even Africa is getting in on the act. But lately, all eyes have been on Asian–and particularly–Chinese growth opportunities for eLearning. With a potential learner pool well into the billions, expansion in China is pretty compelling.

Comparing the numbers for population versus eLearning participants identifies a gap which could be easily closed using prepackaged eLearning, better workforce training, and even the freedom for social networking as part of the learning process. Find out how China is growing, and what it means for the rest of the eLearning industry.

Chinese eLearning by the Numbers

Consider this: There are currently around 1.367 billion people living in China today, of which only 100 million users are actually participating in eLearning opportunities. That means only eight percent of China’s population has access to and participates in eLearning. Still, with 700 million Internet users, the room for growth is huge.

While the general population may not be using eLearning right now, Chinese students are participating in droves. According to a 2014 Docebo report, 26 percent of Chinese students have used eLearning in some way. Borne on the backs of these Chinese education revolutionaries, the eLearning industry is projected to enjoy a 17.3 percent growth rate, generating a health $11.8 billion by 2016.

eLearning Applications

Because of Internet restrictions in China, prepackaged programs are among the hottest sellers for learners there. But, with a dedication to high-quality eLearning, the Chinese government is authorizing more programs and delivery methods for learners, particularly in the professional development sector.

While China heavily censors the Internet for users, MOOCs have yet to be regulated, allowing students to participate in Western-style courses for everything from math to leadership development. It’s possible that in a rapidly developing and highly competitive professional market, the need for additional training from sources like Harvard, MIT, Coursera and EdX are seen as necessities to keep China current and on top of the professional market.

Actions and Reactions

The growth in Chinese eLearning opportunities doesn’t just affect professionals hoping to increase credentials: It allows individuals from rural locations to have the same access to education. More access to corporate MOOCs, prepackaged courses, and one-off programs means that the 635 million people living in rural China can participate in the unprecedented growth and development happening in their own country.

It’s also possible that the growing dependence on eLearning could also open doors for social networking in China. While Facebook is allowed only for a tiny portion of residents, MOOCs and eLearning programs which are tied to social networking could pave the way for looser Internet regulations going forward.

China’s sheer population numbers represent massive growth in the eLearning industry, and it’s easy to see why. Historically heavy tech users, Chinese learners are looking for ways to increase their professional credentials, learn languages, and improve their chances on an international scale, and eLearning is the perfect solution. The freedom currently offered to Chinese learners is just the cherry on top of an extremely large eLearning pie.