Y. Ohashi

Nippon Institute of Technology (JAPAN)
As Japan is facing a rapidly aging society and a low birth rate, information technology (IT) is believed to be increasingly important to strengthen economic growth and competitiveness, and “IT professionals” are required to enable utilization of the technology. However, the IT industry is severely understaffed; thus, there is urgent need to cultivate IT professionals.
In Japan’s general education system, education focused on IT is referred to as “information education (joho kyoiku),” which is defined as “education to cultivate information literacy.” In developing children’s information literacy, it is important to consider the following three points: (i) practical ability to utilize information, (ii) scientific understanding of information, and (iii) a willingness to participate in an information society.
In 2003, an information education subject “Information” was introduced to high schools. And in 2013, teaching content in the subject was modified and restructured as two school subjects, i.e., “Society and Information” and “Information Science.” This was in response to the observed changes and was based on the lessons and reflections obtained from practices in the prior decade. However, information education in high schools is facing a significant change.

Research question:
In this article, the author investigates trends in research on information education in Japanese high schools over the last four decades by reviewing previously published research articles on information education.

Articles related to information education in high schools were collected from a literature database, i.e., CiNii (Scholarly and Academic Information Navigator). “High school” and “information” were used as keywords. The term “information” is a general term; therefore, the author determined whether to include a given article by judging its title, keywords, or body text. This screening process was conducted twice to improve the precision of the research data. Category names were generated, and each article was assigned to a given category after carefully reading the title, abstract, or body text. Then, the author counted category names and analyzed the trends for each decade from 1980s to 2010s. Articles from the 1970s were eliminated due to the low number of identified articles from this time period. In this study, quantitative text analysis software was not used.

As a result, 2,520 articles were collected, and 441 were selected as related material. Two articles were selected from the 1970s, 13 from the 1980s, 81 from the 1990s, 255 from the 2000s, and 90 from the 2010s (i.e., 2010–2013). This study has shown that articles related to information education continued to increase steadily until 2007; however, after 2007, the number of articles gradually declined. The number of categories increased, and the topics and themes of information education become more diverse. In terms of research article trends in each decade, focus transitioned over time, such as practical reports (1980s), use of the Internet (1990s), institutionalization of information education, the untaught compulsory subject problem (2000s), and mobile phones and SNSs (2010s). This study provides a glimpse into the longtime trials and tribulations of embedding information education in Japan’s general education system.