Sunday, June 22, 2014

Blended Learning and Japanese Shadow Education

I gave a brief introduction to the latest trend of the Japanese shadow education, which highlights online learning in the setting like Internet cafe (Online learning - the latest trend in jukus - the Japanese shadow education system).
And I recently found the similar image in school education in the US. Please try to see and compare the below videos for instance: The left video shows an example of the school on the new educational model in the US, and the right one - the "Internet-cafe style" juku.

This model is referred to as "blended learning", in which online learning is combined with other new and conventional teaching methods, and is adopted mainly in chartered schools.

It is spreading rapidly across the United States according to a report of Christian Science Monitor (Blended learning revolution: Tech meets tradition in the classroom) and is going to cross the Atlantic: ARK Schools, one of the biggest academy chains in the UK, is planning to open a new free school based on this model according to Times Education Supplement (Academy plan heralds rise of the machine).

However, there is a controversy.
Some people raise objections to this move (See for example, Stop Rocketship Education now). And the news article on the Ark's new project is inundated with negative comments (Computers to replace teachers in the classroom by 2016...). This kind of reaction reminds me of the past controversy concerning the juku business in Japan (Misunderstanding Asian education in the US).

Putting aside the criticism, it is a bit strange to see the similar images developing in the American school education and in the Japanese shadow education, because it is least likely that there has been some collaboration or consultation between them. 

Moreover, although both of them are engaged in education, they don't necessarily share the same mission: The blended learning model is being developed to revive school education in the US, while jukus' online learning (distance learning) appeared as a strategy of the private client business about twenty years before.

However, similar is not only the superficial image but also the concept. One of the key concepts of blended learning is personalization of learning, which is also the strong point of Internet-cafe style jukus as discussed before.

It seems that both of them are in the same mega trend of learner-centered education, in which teaching materials, devices, and methods, which were developed as tools for teachers, are being reorganized centered around learners.

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