About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 2951-2955
Publication year: 2014
ISBN: 978-84-616-8412-0
ISSN: 2340-1079

Conference name: 8th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 10-12 March, 2014
Location: Valencia, Spain

MAKING INROADS FOR ICT IN JAPAN: FINDING PLATFORMS FOR CHANGE IN A TRADITION-BOUND CULTURE

M. Morrone

Nagoya University Arts and Sciences (JAPAN)
ICT use has become widespread in classrooms around the world. Despite having the financial resources needed to support extensive ICT-based programs in schools and the technical sophistication required to maintain such programs, Japan has been a late-comer to the world of ICT learning in schools. In 2011, a Ministry of Education directive addressed the need for ICT in the classoom, the impetus behind it being a growing sense of insecurity surrounding the future of Japan and its ability to remain competitive, not only on the world stage but even within Asia. (MEXT, 2011.) No doubt the devastating effects of the earthquake and tsunami of March 2011 only exacerbated this society-wide feeling of vulnerability.

So what has impeded the acceptance of ICT in the public school classroom, despite its popularity in informal settings? To answer this question, we must understand the nature of Japan’s complex and conflicted relationship with technology, particularly where education is concerned.
Despite Japan’s technical sophistication, there is often a reluctance in Japan to rely on technology when other means are available. For example, although Japanese companies make excellent calculators, Japanese students themselves are generally not permitted to use them in school, the idea being that students should master advanced mathematical skills before they rely on a mechanical means of problem solving. Japanese were also slow in adopting personal computers, which were initially seen as complex calculators.

A second and more serious obstacle to the adoption of ICT for language learning is the insistence that learning should ideally be a matter of direct transmission from teacher to student. This has roots both in traditional craft culture and in the custom of passing down Buddhist teachings from master to disciple. Any other form of instruction is generally viewed with suspicion and regarded as informal and thus inferior. This attitude has greatly limited the willingness of school authorities and teachers to accept any technology that is perceived as coming between teacher and student.
ICT is therefore often seen as useful in situations where no teacher is available, such as home learning, or as a ploy used by profit-making businesses to reduce teaching expenses, but not as a legitimate tool for language acquisition in a formal school setting. Even if the effectiveness of ICT were acknowledged, many would still resist its adoption out of a concern that the teacher would appear lazy in an ICT-equipped classroom, robbed of his or her essential status and usefulness. Consequently, any progress in the acceptance of ICT-based language programs in Japan’s public schools depends on the clear subordination of ICT to the classroom teacher’s authority and expertise and a programmatic acknowledgement of the primacy of the teacher-student relationship.

The Ministry of Education’s 2011 ICT initiative has yet to jell into any sort of concrete plan for a more rigorous application of ICT in public school classrooms. For a country that rose to the status of an economic giant on the strength of a stubbornly low tech yet remarkably effective education system, accepting change has not been easy. This presentation will discuss various platforms for introducing ICT in a hide-bound culture and will address the implications this might have for other traditional cultures facing educational landscapes altered by the appearance of new technologies.
@InProceedings{MORRONE2014MAK,
author = {Morrone, M.},
title = {MAKING INROADS FOR ICT IN JAPAN: FINDING PLATFORMS FOR CHANGE IN A TRADITION-BOUND CULTURE},
series = {8th International Technology, Education and Development Conference},
booktitle = {INTED2014 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-616-8412-0},
issn = {2340-1079},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Valencia, Spain},
month = {10-12 March, 2014},
year = {2014},
pages = {2951-2955}}
TY - CONF
AU - M. Morrone
TI - MAKING INROADS FOR ICT IN JAPAN: FINDING PLATFORMS FOR CHANGE IN A TRADITION-BOUND CULTURE
SN - 978-84-616-8412-0/2340-1079
PY - 2014
Y1 - 10-12 March, 2014
CI - Valencia, Spain
JO - 8th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
JA - INTED2014 Proceedings
SP - 2951
EP - 2955
ER -
M. Morrone (2014) MAKING INROADS FOR ICT IN JAPAN: FINDING PLATFORMS FOR CHANGE IN A TRADITION-BOUND CULTURE, INTED2014 Proceedings, pp. 2951-2955.
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