The history and process of KAI’s online learning system
KAI Japanese Language School felt a strong need to establish an online teaching environment after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, and began a full-scale study of the introduction of ICT into the education field the following year. In the Fall of 2015, after a variety of trials, we became the first Japanese language school in Japan to require an iPad for every student in our long-term study General Course. Because the curriculum was mainly based on original teaching materials, we were able to switch to distributing digital textbooks and supplementary materials to the iPad via MDM (Mobile Device Management) and LMS (Learning Management System) solutions, and start classes utilizing the iPad right away. While there are many schools that have not been able to make full use of tablets and PCs, we have successfully been able to maintain a high level of student satisfaction thanks in part to the ingenuity of teachers adoption of flipped classroom teaching at an early stage and their development of methods to raise student motivation through collaborative editing.
In order to fully integrate ICT into our curriculum, in 2015 we formed a team consisting of an engineer and full-time teachers to create KAI DLS (Digital Learning System). The DLS team started to improve the network environment for handling an increased number of devices, build the system and develop contents. Simply substituting an iPad for a textbook does not change the learning environment. We did a lot of work over the first year digitizing original teaching materials, developing teaching materials specifically for the iPad, creating video materials, conducting teacher training, supporting students, etc. to get the system running smoothly.
Thanks to the years of ICT experience gained through KAI DLS, we were able to make the transition to online classes in a short period of time when the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak spread in early 2020. The DLS team quickly adopted ZOOM for video lessons to complement our existing LMS, held teacher and student training, and handled technical difficulties and internet connection issues, all resulting in smooth online class operations.
Content and Educational Material Development
Within our original curriculum we also utilize externally published resources, such as newspaper articles and Japanese dramas. We consulted with the Copyright Help Desk to determine which resources were appropriate and legal for inclusion in our online lessons.
In developing digital learning materials, it is not enough to simply convert the materials to PDF format. Audio, video, quizzes and other learning activities must be incorporated into the texts to create three-dimensional learning materials. This is something we continue to actively improve as we receive feedback from our classes.
In creating class materials and content, all teachers have learned about the instructional design (ID) method and the theory of educational technology, which forms the basis of instructional design, and have acquired the ability to construct classes while considering how to effectively achieve class objectives and raise students’ motivation to learn. We try to provide as much training and support documentation as possible.
After the transition to online classes, voluntary study groups have been set up to actively exchange case studies and share issues to improve classes.
To help students get the most out of their iPads, we offer the following:
- School WiFi network
- DLS Support
- Online Manual
- Providing educational materials in the cloud
- Online Library
Since 2014, we have conducted a lot of research on ICT-related Japanese language education development. (Here is a selection of ICT-related research only)
- What’s next to “We introduced ICT in Japanese Language School”? (Talking shop)
- Designing a work preparation program for international students – A report on classroom practices that incorporate case study (Nihongo Gakko Kyoiku Kenkyu Taikai)
- A variety of digital materials that teachers create their own
- Functional language classes using the cloud function of document creation software
- Practice and Evaluation of a Flipped Class for Intermediate Japanese Language Learners (Castel/j International Conference Presentation)
- Designing Elementary Grammar Lessons with Flipped Lessons – Efforts to increase speaking practice
- Practical report on the full-scale introduction of tablet devices (iPad) in schools – Hard things and good things
- Application of instructional design to training and teaching improvement
- Digitization of beginner lesson materials-Remote control using iPhone (Demonstration)