Case Study: Gakushuin University, Japan

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Gakushuin University explains its close examination of what the term ‘active learning’ implies and what technology could help the university implement it on its campus.

Gakushuin University has its origins in Kyoto being established as an imperial school for court nobles near the former Imperial Palace in Kyoto in 1847. After the capital of Japan moved from Kyoto to Tokyo, another school for nobles was established in Kanda, Tokyo in 1877. Emperor Meiji instructed that the school should succeed the name “Gakushuin”.

Presently, Gakushuin University has a campus in Mejiro, Tokyo which is 180,000 square metres wide and teaches more than 9,000 students across five faculties with 17 departments.

Advancements in pedagogy and technology have meant that Gakushuin University introduced a new studying class supporting system using presentation and collaboration functions. The move is in line with the university’s new education style which focusses on active learning. The aim of Gakushuin University is to develop each student’s individuality and broad outlook with an international point of view. To enable this vision, Gakushuin University chose Kramer VIA Campus as its technology solution.

Hiroyasu Kidokoro from Gakushuin University Computer Center says: “What led Gakushuin University to introduce VIA Campus was the update of the AVC multimedia system in the classrooms. When updating, a tool which had collaboration features in addition to presentation capabilities to trial active learning was a mandatory requirement. The Kramer VIA Campus met all of our needs.”

Toshio Murakami of Gakushuin University Computer Center talks about how the university decided to commit to testing the feasibility of the VIA Campus: “When trialling active learning, testing it out in only one or two rooms would provide limited verification and we were looking to verify the feasibility of such an endeavour on a wider scale. We thought that our deployment needed to be above a certain scale so that we could thoroughly plan development for the future.”

Early on, Gakushuin University identified BYOD as a key enabling feature for the active learning model that it wanted to pursue. Hiroyasu comments: “Active learning is a two way dialogue. To carry out active learning, the participants need some device. Generally, the way this is done is by distributing dedicated devices to each classroom. On the other hand, in the current era, the teachers and the students are carrying devices personally.”

Rather than go down the route of dedicated devices, Gakushuin University wanted to leverage the personal devices of people on campus. Toshio says: “We obviously wanted to have usable collaboration features for active learning. But, it was also important to have simple operations with regards to BYOD devices of the teachers and the students. Active learning does not have a specified definition and a specific way to implement it. In our approach we identified collaboration and multifunction as more more esteemed features when compared with cost effectiveness.”

Wide support for devices was also needed for BYOD to be successful. Hiroyasu says: “As for BYOD devices, many models exist in each of the technology verticals of PCs, tablets and smartphones. Each has an operating system with more than one version and there is difference of hardware among the models. Supporting BYOD devices widely became an important element in our selection process.”

Kramer VIA Campus met the selection criteria and Toshio says: “In addition to Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, VIA Campus also supports Chrome. Most BYOD devices which the teacher and the students possess can be used.”

Once Kramer VIA Campus was selected, the university found it easy to deploy. Toshio details: “With PCs, we didn’t need an administrator as installation was simple and the application was accepted by the teachers without resistance. For mobile devices, you can simply log-in with a QR code and install the application from the Apple Store or Google Play and operation is quite easy.”

Hiroyasu adds: “All VIA Campus units are managed by the VIA site management in addition to the individual administrative function accessible through a web interface. This is very important from the operational management point of view because all the 16 VIA Campus units are installed away from the operation centre.”