Information and Communication Technology Use for Active Learning in Japan by Dr. Kenichi Kubota (Regional Speaker)

by Helen Torigoe (Guest Blogger)

Dr. Bert Kimura introduced the last regional plenary speaker of the TCC 2015 as one with “a passion for developing best practices with regards to using technology in education.”  Dr. Kenichi Kubota is a professor of Informatics at Kansai University in Osaka, Japan.
Dr. Kubota began the presentation by describing the current K-12 education environment in Japan:  According to the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) 2013, only 10% of Japanese teachers (vs. 38% of teachers in other 33 countries surveyed) use information and communication technology (ICT) in the classroom, such as a computer, tablets, or other mobile devices.  Wait, isn’t Japan the land of high-tech, the robots, the smart appliances, and gazillion gadgets that we can only dream of?  Despite the country’s technological advancement, Dr. Kubota said the K-12 education in Japan is still very conservative and lecture-driven as it was almost 100 years ago.

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So what is Dr. Kubota doing about the lack of ICT in education in Japan?  Rather than waiting for the government or the education system to change, he has incorporated ICT into the Informatics program that he teaches at Kansai University.  As the professor of a seminar class that takes 3rd and 4th year Screen Shot 2015-03-22 at 14.26.17students to the Philippines during the summer for a field study (i.e. service learning or project-based learning), he allows his students to do everything from planning, preparation, and field work, to the reflection/report-writing.  The ICT tools are naturally incorporated into these activities and they have become indispensable for students.  The tools include email, presentation software, word processing, Facebook, Google+ and Hangout, Skype, LINE, Photos, and Videos.  Brilliant!  The students are learning, serving, and having fun while learning to use digital tools in work and life.

The presentation ended with a very interesting discussion on LINE.  Everyone in TCC’s virtual and on-campus room wanted to know what LINE was.  It is a texting app that EVERYONE in Japan uses, explained Dr. Bert.  It also has video chat and social media functions, like Skype and Facebook, and lately is being used to call Uber taxis.  Dr. Bert uses LINE’s group chat feature to push messages to his Japanese students, because they don’t do emails.  Don’t use emails?  I guess that trend is the same as US students. ☺

Contact Dr. Kenichi Kubota:

Twitter: kuboken569

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