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Abstract -- Summary of K12 Activities in Japan Education Track
D3: New Initiatives To Support School Networking

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Summary of K12 Activities in Japan

Goto, Kunio ( goto@nanzan-u.ac.jp)
Nakayama, Masaya ( nakayama@nc.u-tokyo.ac.jp)


This paper summarizes K12 related activities in Japan. Also we discuss the problems to make use of the technology in classrooms and possible solutions to those problems.

At least parts of LAN in most universities are connected to the Internet via one of research/educational Internet in Japan and some experimental classes such as international collaborate writing or cross-cultural communication are given at some of the universities. Also interests to educational use of the Internet in high schools, junior high schools, and elementary schools are rapidly growing. At university level, there are few problem with using the Internet for education since IP environment is already available in many cases and professors have more flexibility in the curriculum and have more human resource than at high schools or lower education. At high school or lower education level, however, there are many problem with using the Internet for educational usage. Unfortunately, there has been no support for Internet access by national government for high school nor lower education while universities may use SINET, operated by higher education division of Ministry of Education (ME: Monbu sho) as a domestic/overseas IP connectivity. Therefore, most of the K12 activities have been implemented by interested individuals on a commercial BBS, or by a interested group of teacher/professors or sponsored by some non-profit foundations.

Recently, "100-school networking project" by Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI: Tsuusan sho) has just began. This project is supported by IPA (Information-technology Promotion Agency) and CEC (Center for Educational Computing). At this project, schools (elementary to high schools) will get the Internet connectivity till March 1996 with no charge. 1543 schools applied their proposal for the project and finally about 100 schools are selected and the names are announced to the public in the middle of December, 1994. 30 schools will use 64Kbps leased line and the rest will use 3.4kHz analog leased line and high speed modem (asynchronous PPP). Those schools will be connected in February through March 1995. For each school, basically one IP router or PC will be provided by IPA. As Internet connection, regional networks will support the project.

The authors are volunteers of two different regional networks which give IP connectivity to some of the 100 schools and are interested in not only connecting the 100 schools but also promoting other schools to connect and most importantly help/arrange a discussion in SIGs (special interesting groups) at domestic research/educational organization or at regional networks how to effectively use the Internet in education.

Therefore it is a good time to summarize the previous effort by many people and point out the problems. Most of the teachers' activities have been seen in a forum (bulletin' board) on major commercial BBS services, and the activities of researchers have been seen in mailing lists and within other Internet related research meetings. The complete list of activities will be included in the full paper.

Problems in K12 in Japan

There are many problems as below.

  1. Internet connectivity -- funding and technical support,
  2. LAN environment -- technical support for IP applications.
  3. Curriculum -- integration to existing classes or special classes,
  4. Language barrier -- problem in international communication,
  5. Teaching load,
  6. Arrangement of matching classes for international communication.
The problem No. 1 can be resolved by some special fund as seen in "100-school networking project". No. 2 will be resolved by spending some money. The real problems are No. 3 through 5. In essence, teachers are very much interested in using the Internet for Education but do not know how to do it. We have just started the discussion on a mailing list with many teachers and will summarize the discussion in the full paper as some course model plans which avoid excessive teaching load and solve language barrier problem.