Saturday, July 12, 2014

Comparing Lecture Videos: Japanese jukus and the Khan Academy

In the previous posts, I gave the introductory articles on the recent developments of online learning in Japanese shadow education and the blended learning movement in the US.

This time I would like you to view the lecture videos used in Japanese jukus as well as in the American school education for comparison. Although they are made in different languages, I hope you can feel the general vibe or difference and similarity between them.

The first video is from Veritas Academy, a budding online juku company, and the second one is from the famous Khan Academy. The topic of both lectures is trigonometry in math.

Since nobody shows up in the videos of Khan Academy, you might have a feeling that the lecturer in the Japanese juku video is intrusive. However, the primary purpose of the distance learning in the juku industry was to show the performance of the superstar lecturers to the audience in the remote places. 
In the early 1990s, a few big juku companies, which were found in urban areas, gathered talented lecturers by headhunting and featured them as charismatic leaders or gurus in advertisements in some magazines and TV. It caused an unexpectedly big demand to see their lectures among students including those in the remote areas. Therefor the companies had no choice but to launch distance learning.

At first, the companies used satellite communication as medium for their distance learning and subsequently changed it to the Internet VOD (Video on demand) system. They are now marketing the blended learning package consisting of lecture videos, verification test, counseling service, and other components.

Since the advent of the Internet VOD system, which significantly lowered the barrier to entry into distance learning business, many small and medium jukus such as Veritas Academy entered this market, as explained before. So every lecturer found in the video is not a superstar now, but the lecturer-centered format still seems to be a standard.

Next, I would like to show more elaborated videos. The third video is made by the Crash Course, one of the partner youtube channels of the Khan Academy and the fourth is from the Keimeisha, a member company of Sanaru Group. Both lectures discuss the Mongolian Empire.

Some people may think that these videos rival or surpass in-person lectures, while others argue that live lectures by the flesh-and-blood teachers are invaluable and irreplaceable. 
How should we understand this conflict of views?

According to a juku lecturer, a live lecture can be likened to a theatrical play, and a video lecture - a movie film. 
In other words, the theatrical performance by excellent actors and actresses is invaluable, while movies outperforms it by a wide margin in how many people are moved. 

For further watching:

Veritas Academy

Khan Academy

Sanaru Group

Youtube Juku: A portal site for free video lectures

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