Japan Online Lesson

Japan online lesson experience and online learning

I was recently talking for 1 hour with a Japanese class and teachers, about the internet, Open Source, and what online lessons can look like.

State when Corona started

When Corona started, I heard from various people about the state of online lessons at schoole: it was really bad. In Germany as well as in Japan.

  • Knowledge on how to do lessons via Internet instead of teaching in front of students and children
  • Internet connectivity, devices for access

I was worried about that. Schools in both Germany and Japan were facing these questions, in danger of just getting visited by Google or Microsoft sales, and then buying ‘something’, which might mean tax payers money spent on software or services which lead to vendor lockin, personal data being at risk, and more. To be clear: although I use very much Open Source, here I merely would like the people in schools to make educated decisions, instead of buying something from whoever knocks their door first.

The Tokyo Linux user group mailing list was the place I took this to. Linux user groups are organizations which are spread all over the world. In the first days of the Linux operating system, when internet connectivity was scarse, LUGs were there to help: on mailing lists, regulars tables, and doing ‘Linux install parties’ where you could bring in your hardware and walk out with a Linux installation.

Feedback summary: others confirmed the sad state of online learning, were also willing to spend time on helping schools, but were like me unsure about a good interface to offer advice.

I have friends in Germany who were involved in activities of technically affine people giving lessons, even before Corona, called ‘Chaos macht Schule’.

The first online lesson

In October 2021, I had a one hour session with a school class in Hyogo-ken, Japan.

I was invited in person, which I refused considering the travel would be many hours. So, the lesson happened online, using a normal video chat software which transmits audio, video, and allows to share ones screen.

Why me? I am proud that I was not invited as a foreigner, but as a technical specialist, to bring in ‘fresh perspectives’ on things.

The first question was a wide topic: what is the internet? I shared my screen, started ‘dia’, an Open Source diagram software, and draw a client, an ISP routing packets, and web servers.

Along with that, terms like ‘system’, ‘service’ and so on came up. Then ‘why should I as a student learn how to use the internet?’. ‘What is Open source?’ ‘How can the internet help me to teach?’ ‘Which software exists, and which fits my needs best?’

Next steps

The answers to these questions are actually complex, I started to collect bullet points as answers online, will use these points at the second lesson which has already been scheduled.
I started a subfolder ‘en’ in the wiki, potentially I will do for example a Japanese translation. For the first lesson I created slides as pdf. If I end up with a Japanese translation and get a feeling that would be used, I might render the markup files into a pdf file with pandoc. If I get really much input, I might move these documents to a git instance and accept change requests as pull requests.

Can you help with the following?

  • I started to write up the answers, input is welcome.
  • For sure, there are more schools than this one in this position, having these questions. How to connect them with technical people who do not have an intention of selling something, but can give objective advice? Marketing people of companies might not be the best ones for this, maybe members of Linux user groups are good candidates: we are paying taxes, many of us have children, so we want the money spent well, and the children to receive good education.