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What School Leaders Can Learn From Edtech Trends In Japan 

What school leaders can learn from edtech trends in Japan 

Japan is known for its futuristic technology and culture of hard work, so it’s natural that Japan is a leader in edtech.

Unlike other countries, Japan was moving toward digital learning even before the pandemic:

  • In 2020, the internet penetration rate in Japan was more than 90%, and has consistently been higher than 88% since 2013.
  • Many students in Japan have tutors and participate in after-school studies. This has fueled the creation of over 300 Japanese edtech startups and offerings.
  • Japan’s overall edtech market is now projected to grow ¥362.5 billion ($2.7 billion USD) by 2027. 

Let’s take a look at the edtech trends in Japan that serve as inspiration for school leaders around the world. 

1. Access to tech devices


Japan launched its Global Innovation Gateway for All (GIGA) program to integrate technology in classrooms and digitize education. Around two-thirds of the GIGA budget is allocated to providing computers and high quality internet in compulsory education in the country.

The program was initially planned to be implemented by 2024, but was brought forward to 2021 due to the pandemic and remote shift.

The Ministry created an IT advisory board as part of the program, which includes tech professionals who offer in-person support at schools for teachers and students. The move is part of the government push toward a post-information society called Society 5.0, incorporating cyberspace, such as artificial intelligence (AI), big data and the Internet of Things into education.

With initiatives like GIGA, school leaders can supply both the tech and guidance to apply it effectively. Most importantly, these programs ensure that all students have equal access to digital learning opportunities.

2. Digital textbooks and platforms

Japan announced that from 2024 onward, it will bring digital textbooks into English language classes for fifth to eighth grade students. The move is designed to help students practice their pronunciation and listen to on-demand recordings from native English speakers.

For schools, digital textbooks are more accessible – they can be used anywhere at any time. What’s more, teaching materials are stored in one place with a digital textbook, so teachers’ work is more streamlined. 

In a separate policy, Japan’s education ministry is building a nationwide schools’ affairs management system. The platform will assist teachers in managing students’ grades and absences. Thus, reducing teachers’ working hours and giving deeper insights into their students’ home learning situation. 

Notably, all the data stored in the platform will be transferable between schools. Meaning that, when students move to other institutions, their performance and preferences will still be accessible. The system will launch in six municipalities in 2023 and be widespread across Japan by 2030. 

3. Gamification and AI in learning tools

Gamification is synonymous with edtech – studies reveal that it positively affects student engagement, motivation, academic achievement, and social connectivity. 

In Japan, home to one of the largest video game industries in the world, sophisticated gaming graphics and stories have made their way into edtech. Gamification uses elements like competitions, point scoring, narratives, and teamwork to facilitate students’ learning while having fun. 

It can be personalized to individual students too. 

For example, English learning app ELSA has been installed on student tablets in a high school in Kyotango prefecture. Using AI speech recognition technology, students speak into the app and receive a personalized score around their pronunciation, fluency, grammar, and more. The app then offers tailored feedback to help students improve. Meanwhile, teachers get total visibility over students’ performance, and can adjust English classes according to individuals’ progress.

Kyotango Mayor Yasushi Nakayama, left, receives an explanation about ELSA at Kyotango City Hall.

One representative from Japan’s Board of Education said that teachers using AI-infused classes noted that students who previously weren’t finishing their homework, are now completing it. 

Gamification and AI tools are valuable for school leaders all over the world trying to encourage and include more students.

The acceleration of edtech in the classroom

By now, technology has a firm place in education. Edtech aids students and teachers alike and stimulates a more dynamic and streamlined learning environment. School leaders can now integrate edtech solutions into their institutions efficiently, and accelerate how students learn.

Follow in Japan’s edtech footsteps and get started with ELSA, the AI-powered speaking coach that helps boost students’ confidence in English. Additionally, read up on 2023’s top 6 edtech trends on our blog.

This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. […] 京丹後市教育委員会が日本の6つの高校にELSAを導入したとき、世界101カ国の4,000万人のELSAユーザーの一員となりました。このような先進的な取り組みに踏み切った公立中学校は、全国でもここが始めてとなりました。 […]

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