DNP and Keio Research Institute at SFC Jointly Research Distance Learning System with function Allowing Teachers to Conduct Personal Instruction

Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd. (DNP) and the Platform Design Laboratory of the Keio Research Institute at SFC (Shonan Fujisawa Campus), part of Keio University located in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan, have reached an agreement regarding joint research into developing a distance learning. DNP aims to capitalize on the results of this joint research to enter the remote system-driven education business.

Distance learning based teaching was legalized in April 2015, and since then such activities have seen advances at high schools throughout Japan. Although great importance is placed upon this approach in Japanese elementary and junior high schools, there are limitations to this type of teaching format, including the difficulty in implementing progress checking based on personal instruction for each pupil or student, As a result, schools have shown some hesitation in adopting distance learning, even while expressing interest in such systems.

The Platform Design Laboratory at the Keio Research Institute at SFC has accumulated distance learning-based operational know how over an extended period of time, and has developed a track record in supervising the creation of distance learning systems at high schools and local authorities throughout Japan. In particular, by being able to provide for progress checking based on personal instruction for each student, which is a challenge at present, the new system is deemed important for the wider dissemination of such systems going forward. Keio Research Institute at SFC has entered into a joint research alliance with DNP, which maintains the technology needed to acquire and manage data retrieved during the pupil learning process by employing a variety of devices, including tablet terminals and paper.

Based on the results of this joint research, DNP will develop a system to realize real time communication between individual pupils and remotely located teachers during group lessons, facilitating improved satisfaction for both parties. Apart from proposing such systems to education business operators, DNP also aims to offer distance learning opportunities in line with those new teaching formats likely to emerge following the introduction of university entrance examination reforms. With the collaboration between high schools and universities increasing, DNP expects high level needs for such distance learning especially from high schools that have already commenced it as a regular class. At the same time, DNP plans to offer the new system to other public and private educational institutions as well, including elementary and middle schools, universities, and private prep schools.

[Background]

In April 2015, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, partially revised the Enforcement Regulations for the School Education Law, as a measure against the lack of teachers on remote islands and in mountainous areas of Japan, and with the objective of providing new learning opportunities. As a result, it has become possible to take courses at locations other than the classroom through using a variety of media in a sophisticated manner at all high schools throughout Japan, and distance learning has been certified as a formal teaching technique for granting credits required for graduation.

However, even while some high schools fulfill the necessary conditions for conducting distance learning, satisfaction levels among pupils remain around 60% - 70% compared to face-to-face classes, according to findings by Keio Research Institute at SFC Platform Design Laboratory. Local authorities and school developers are also faced with severe financial conditions, and it is not possible to adopt highly priced systems. Hence, the function that facilitates progress checking through appropriate personal instructions, where the teacher grasps the progress and comprehension level of each individual student, is one of the functions of distance learning system that should be emphasized alongside voice-delivered teaching techniques.

[System Summary]

With usual distance learning systems, the teacher is capable of merely gaining an overview of the class. As a result, it is not possible to perform personal instruction, or to control the pace of the class in line with the progress of each individual pupil. The newly developed system uses ICT devices for pupils, such as tablet terminals and digital pens, the internet, along with the written and spoken words and texts. In this manner, it is possible to perform real time three-way communication among pupils, the remotely located teacher and the teacher in the classroom, and provide an immersive sensation that equates to on-site personal instruction.  

Major functions:

  • Monitoring of the learning progress status of each pupil.
  • Allowing for teachers to answer pupils' questions when they raise their hands.
  • Communicating with classroom based teachers.

Using this system makes it possible for teachers to offer verbal advice to pupils having difficulties in their classwork, or to review the pace of the class in line with the progress of individual pupils in a flexible manner. Also, as it is possible to correct written work during class time, this helps to reduce the time it takes to return corrected or marked work to the pupil.

It is also possible to operate the system using multiple teachers. This makes it possible to provide personal instruction and appraisals that are superior to those currently offered, including more detailed instruction and faster correction or marking.

Joint research by the partners will show the way forward to optimal equipment and system configurations offering the functions necessary to respond to a variety of network environments at schools.

[User Benefits]

Severe finances at local authorities have produced a tendency to reducing teacher numbers. As a result, it is not possible to deploy sufficient teaching staff in sparsely populated areas, such as isolated islands and mountainous areas, and more than 500 schools are forced to close each year. By using this newly developed system it will be possible to provide classes in subjects manned by insufficient teaching staff, leading to hopes that further school closures can be prevented.

It is also true that there are not enough teachers capable of offering instruction in new subjects, such as computer programing and discussion-based classes that are expected to assume increasing importance in line with the recent Japan's national policy. Using the new system offers more schools the opportunity to provide classes leading to the development of new skills.

[Looking Ahead]

With the cooperation of participating high schools and educational organizations throughout Japan, supervising distance learning systems Keio Research Institute at SFC Platform Design Laboratory has commenced experimental studies in the real time sharing of the written contents of pupil classwork.

The research partners will perform experiments at multiple participating schools for a period of six-months, and based on the resultant assessments will construct a teaching system capable of being linked to various distance conference systems.

DNP will also draw up a parallel business model, and make proposals to educational business operators and end users, aiming to launch a distance learning business in the autumn of 2016.

Our concrete business vision, sees DNP aiming to provide distance learning, by offering our core systems to business operators already offering distance learning educational services, and through cooperation with educational business operators in an independent manner.

 
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