Japanese ‘ed tech’ firms look to change education at home, abroad
In London, the 36th BETT trade show runs from Jan. 22 to 25. Formerly known as the British Educational Training and Technology Show, the annual event is one of the largest of its kind in Europe, attracting more than 30,000 visitors from over 100 countries.
The exhibit gives visitors a glimpse of the latest global trends surrounding ed tech, as well as information and communication technology (ICT) in the education sector. Ed tech companies across the world and national governments introduce what they have to offer through their booths.
METI, with the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), set up the Japan Pavilion for the first time at the event, striving to showcase Japanese ed tech companies to the world. The ministry is also working to acquire the latest relevant information through attending conferences and visiting local companies and educational institutions, in addition to providing networking opportunities for Japanese participants and educational officials from around the world.
At the Japan Pavilion, there are 10 ed tech firms from Japan participating. They are: SuRaLa Net Co.; atama plus Inc.; and Digika Co., all of which offer learning materials better suited for each individual; Hanamaru Lab; Enageed Co.; and GP League, all of which provide developmental learning through STEAM-focused materials among others. Toyput Inc. and CodeTakt Co. offer content based on artificial intelligence and platforms for e-learning, while Sportip Inc. provides analysis on sports and Benesse Corp. offers a wide range of educational material.
Methods better suited for each individual and learning material utilizing the concept of STEAM from Japan feature mainly three advantages. Firstly, they are equipped with “gamification” elements that enable students to learn while having fun. Secondly, material users can set detailed levels in accordance with each student’s degree of understanding. Lastly, they are equipped with an algorithm for learning based on their degree of understanding, which was calculated through their accuracy rates and time spent solving problems.
Spreading ed tech efforts
Some of the aforementioned companies have already expanded their services abroad.
Working with a microfinance institution, SuRaLa Net operates Japanese-modeled Surala E-learning Lab in Sri Lanka’s capital of Colombo. With this project, the company has contributed to rectifying educational disparities by offering math education to the base of the pyramid group at a low cost.
Enageed is another company proactively expanding its services abroad. The firm started offering its overseas services from the Philippines, and went on to be highly regarded in other countries. Meanwhile, Hanamaru Lab has worked on introducing the education to nurture thinking ability in Cambodia, as a part of the Japan International Cooperation Agency’s projects. For this Asian country, facilitation of educational environment is a national priority issue.
Ahead of their participation in BETT, METI organized a kickoff meeting at the JETRO office in Tokyo earlier this month to prepare for the event with representatives from exhibiting companies. The meeting saw the participation of members of the British Educational Suppliers Association and Norihisa Wada, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of ed tech company EduLab. Inc.
The ministry is also scheduled to have a national booth at an educational ICT exhibition in Manila in February as part of its further commitment to disseminate Japan’s efforts.