1. Project Dealing with Environmental Issues and International Environmental Education
Konan Elementary School

2. Perfecting Networks at Home before Taking on International Interaction
Involving Parents and the Neighorhood in Building up Interactive Learning Communities
Onan Elementary School

3. Creating and Running an In-school Intranet to Fulfill the gOpen-spaceh Ideal
Honcho Elementary School

4. Real-time Communication via a High-speed Line
Answering Childrenfs Queries on the Spot
Rinkan Elementary School

5. A Place to Talk with People from All Over the World!
Overcoming the Language Barrier
Rinkan Elementary School

6. E-mail : Helping Children Answer Their Own Questions
Mail Volunteers to the Rescue
Hirano Municipal Elementary School

7. Joint Study Brings Home Network Power
- Nationwide Kenaf Germination Map -
Miyazaki University, Faculty of Education and Culture, University Affiliated Elementary School

8. Gradually Applying the Internet into School Subjects
Katsurao Junior High School

9. School News Project Links Japanese Schools Internet-Hook-Up Squad Supports Networking
Maebashi No. 4 Junior High School

10. The Greatest Problem ? the Studentsf English Skills
Effectively Arousing Studentsf Interest in International Affairs
Tokushima Junior High School

11. Actual Encounters Teach Limitations of E-mail
Online Debate Brings Occasional Heated Exchanges
Tohoku Gakuin Junior/Senior High School

12. Administering a Website on the Basis of Achievements of Illustrated
International Interactive Exchange
- Flexible Project Looks to Multiple Benefits with Application of Available Systems and Resources -
Shimizu Kokusai Junior/Senior High School

13. New Classes with Themes and Ideas
Going beyond English Studies to Create a Forum for Mutual Understanding
Tezukayama Gakuin Izumigaoka Junior/Senior High School

14. How to Successfully Achieve gStaying Powerh
Acid Rain Survey Project Proves an Effective Way of Stimulating Studentsf Enthusiasm and Interest
Attached Fukuyama Junior and Senior High School, Hiroshima University

15. Creating Japanese Versions of gNetiquetteh Teaching Materials with the Help of Volunteers
Young Leaves Project
Togane Girlsf High School

16. Asian Friends on the Other Side of the Screen
Seiryo Commercial High School, Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture

17. High School Students Learning Technology Look to Technological Interactive Exchange by Sharing Ideas via E-mail
International Exchange with Fun, Suspense and Excitement
Komatsu Technical High School

18. Science Experimentation & Observation Database
Moving on from Experimental Use of the Internet to the Practical Stage
Okayama Hosen Senior High School

19. Acting as the Hub of a Local Network for Widespread
Use of the Internet and Local Development
Hitarinko High School

20. New Classes with Themes and Ideas The Internet ? A Precious Window on the World for
the Handicapped
Helping the Handicapped Find Increased Opportunities to Express Themselves and Join in the Community
Koumei School for the Physically Handicapped, Tokyo/
Soyokaze Branch of Koumei School for the Physically Handicapped, Tokyo

21. NetDay and Table-leg Cap
The Tohoku Internet Association (TiA)

22. Iowa Project
Yamanashi Prefectural Education Center

23. A Slightly Different Reason Prompts Project Entry
Wanouchi-cho Board of Education

24. Training Camps for Teachers and Students
Tokai School-Net Study Group

25. Homemade Database of Local Images
Amagasaki Education Center

26. Remote Installation
The Chugoku & Shikoku Internet Association


1. Project Dealing with Environmental Issues and
International Environmental Education

Konan Elementary School, Sapporo, Hokkaido

What the children and teachers can create side by side...

Environmental Issues and International Interaction?a unique voluntary project in the 100-School Networking Project. Just how was it then that Konan Elementary School came to take on the challenge, and how did this unique voluntary project come into being?

Mr. Yuichi Fujimura, one of the teachers, was responsible for the planning. He explains that just by getting a line and a server would open the doors to new possibilities in education. This, he says, whetted his appetite to create the kind of project that is uniquely characteristic of this school in its remote northern setting.

Despite an excellent reputation for curriculum studies, Konan Elementary School had until then shown no great enthusiasm for the world of computers. So, what was it that convinced them that the Internet would bring new educational opportunities? The fact of the matter is that three of the schoolfs staff, Teruo Fujimoto (teaching staff coordinator), Yuichi Fujimura (teacher), and Yutaka Chikada (school administration) had long been PC enthusiasts conversant with the world of computers. They were members of the U.S. education network NEBBS and were already using the Internet via Telnet. There can be little doubt that it was experience like these that told them they could expect results from the project in one form or another.

The upshot was the decision to create a kind of unique project that no other school could imitate. This project was to be underpinned by the basic concept of gWhat the children and teachers can create side by side...h Of all the suggestions as to how they were to do this, they finally settled on an e-mail service for the provision of information, which they named the gNorth Country Information Service.h This was followed by the setting up of their home page known as the gNorth Country Information Corner.h To bring out and illustrate local characteristics, they applied the fourth-grade social studies unit, to support the exchange of questions and photographic information with other schools, notably Nishi-awaji Elementary School in Osaka, on a wide topic of localities and lifestyles. Other successes include performing joint lessons in real time via a TV conferencing system, which enabled them to exchange views and interact with each other. This led to further developments, including the creation of a more advanced database known as their gDatabase of Lifestyle and Culture,h as well as the production of a home page dealing with environmental issues. This was so successful that it won them the Asahi Gakusei Shimbun Prize in the second stage of the School Page Contest.

Network Education ? Linking Up with People for Better Learning

Located in a tranquil residential area, Konan Elementary School is ideally located within an expansive natural setting and flanked by the Toyohira River. For all this, a 10-minute train ride will take you into the hustle and bustle of the heart of Sapporo city. With a rich natural environment set alongside the urban, Konan Elementary School is in a perfect position to contemplate environmental issues. The children took the initiative in setting up the gPlanet Protection Patrolh after being incensed at the sight of large quantities of paper and other usable waste being thrown away as a result of school garbage sorting policy. Via the Internet, gPlanet Protection Patrolh joins with similarly-minded people around the world in investigating the current status on environmental issues and the problems of waste and trash. Here, they exchange their views on recycling and volunteer for activities. The school calls its activities as a whole its gInternational Environment Education Project,h although the activities involved in this represent an attempt to translate into practice what they see as gNetwork education ? linking up with other people for better education.h

Mr. Fujimura relates how the pupils were initially enthusiastic about gathering information over the Internet, although the novelty began to wear off after about three months. They then increasingly began to look at home pages and ask questions directly via e-mail, while also using electronic bulletin boards and the like to gain information from multiple unspecified individuals. Researching on the basis of ready-made reference materials only brings a limited response range, whereas the Internet allows you to receive a wide range of diverse feedback. Language problems do exist, but once they have overcome these problems with the help of volunteer translators etcetera, they will have the whole world in front of them as an open forum for learning. A case point is their efforts to reclaim used paper. When it came to getting an operator to handle the paper they had collected, they found themselves with no one to turn to. The only operators they had dealings with were concerned solely with waste disposal. When they approached other operators, they were told that nothing could be done unless they were paid for the collection service. The way out of this impasse came by using bulletin boards requesting cooperation. This gave forth a great diversity of views from many quarters including consumers, consumer groups, administrative bodies, waste-collecting operators, and manufacturing concerns, among others, which allowed them to get to the bottom of their problems and to investigate leads and related issues. Mr. Fujimura relates that the experience has brought home to him the knowledge that successful lessons come from forging ties and interacting with other people. It has taught him, he says, that successful education does not lie in the teacher presenting a one-way stream of information, no matter how plausible, and simply getting the children to absorb it on good faith.

It can lead to problems if pupils make direct approaches to any party that happened to arouse their interest. It is essential, therefore, to ask for consent by sending an e-mail in advance and to make sure that you give the other party sufficient information as to what you are trying to achieve. Once you get the children to appreciate that there are people at the other end of the line, you will not find yourself with any major problems. Incidentally, Konan Elementary School is also taking part in a number of overseas interaction projects, such as Netday, which is an exchange project between Japan and the countries of the EU, as well as the Micronesia Project. The modes of communication involved here are basically very much the same, while the language barrier presents few problems thanks to the help of volunteer translators.

PANIC on Hearing PANIX

At the outset of the 100-School Networking Project, we found that School A, for example, had a 64-Kbps line on its own UNIX-base server, while School B was participating with nothing but a 28.8-Kbps analog line. Therefore, when the Information Technology Promotion Agency (IPA) told them to provide School B with a server, they admit to having some consternation. After all, when the request came, they did not know much about what server management involved, and had absolutely no knowledge of the UNIX-compatible operating system known as PANIX. What is more, the so-called server that was actually delivered to the school had them wondering whether what appeared to be a simple PC could stand up to being in constant operation around the clock.

Mr. Fujimura says that he bought books on the subject of UNIX and installed the UNIX operating system on his own PC at home. Not only this, he received offers of help from people at several universities in the area, including Hokkaido University and Hokusei Gakuen University. All of this made the task seem less daunting than it had first appeared. When it came down to it, he says that he received instruction all the way from basic points such as how to supervise mail and manage the server, all the way through to the specialist level, thanks to the technical support interface provided by the Mitsubishi Research Institute, Inc., which had been made available through the efforts of the CEC and IPA.

Mr. Fujimura sees an interface like this as being absolutely indispensable for each and every school that sees itself connecting to the Internet in days to come. He adds that wherever it proves difficult on a local administrative level, such an interface should be sought at the prefectural level, while if you cannot enjoy this kind of interface free of charge, it is still better to pay for the service rather than to have none at all.

According to Mr. Fujimura, once the server actually got into operation, it was marvelous to see the server make its entrance into each of the various schools, where, he realized, a completely new dimension in freedom had opened up, paving the way to undreamed of potentials.

With a dial-up connection, you only have a couple of mail accounts at most, which prevents class-by-class interaction. Accounts can be issued and mailing lists created to cater for any active undertakings initiated by the children.

What is more, he says, you can make around 500 MB of space available on the spot to cater for the wish to produce multimedia creations. What the experience has brought home to him is that schools should not only make do with dial-up connections, but should opt for bringing in a server whenever there is anyone on hand to manage it.

All of which goes to show that it is essential for us to find some means of receiving state aid and ensuring that we build upon the foundations now available in the form of region-by-region school communications bases.

(The information for this article was kindly provided by Yuichi Fujimura, teacher at Konan Elementary School)


2. Perfecting Networks at Home before Taking on
International Interaction
Involving Parents and the Neighorhood in Building up Interactive Learning Communities

Onan Elementary School, Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture

Getting Parents and Families to Provide Specialist Knowledge

As Onan Elementary School is located in Tsukuba Science City, quite a few of the parents and guardians of the pupils are research personnels. That is why the environment here is conducive in prevailing upon the support of these parents and guardians whenever the need arises for specialist knowledge.

As the Internet is connected to every corner of the world, the school initially thought of pursuing an overseas interaction. One advantageous feature of this was that many parents and guardians have outstanding linguistic skills, which led the school to recruit volunteer translators. This resulted in over 30 people coming forward with skills in Korean, Chinese, English, Russian, German, and Portuguese.

It also occurred to the school that they could use the Internet to access the research institutes where the childrenfs parent work, and ask them to provide specialist knowledge and reference data for use in learning activities at school. When they asked for e-mail volunteers to field the childrenfs questions, around 50 parents willingly offered their services.

It was in the summer of 1995 that the project got underway with the setting up of the communications lines, a server and one client machine, although these were not actually used until the autumn of that year. In the early days, there were only two or three machines linked up to the Internet. Nonetheless, thanks to the enthusiasm of the teachers, Internet activities got off to a steady start with a hotline connecting the school with the outside world in the form of interactive exchange with schools overseas, queries to e-mail volunteers, and so forth.

During the third school term of 1995, 20 machines were installed to operate on Windows 3.1. Initially, there was some trouble completing successful Internet settings on Windows 3.1. However, the teachers persevered in connecting the machines to the Internet, as they had already arranged to start an Internet study course using these machines, to be taught by the parents. The school had to make their own desks meant to hold PCs by sticking large sheets of plywood onto six school desks. We hear that it was none other than the headmaster himself who, armed with a hammer in one hand, directed the work needed to fashion these PC desks.

Teachers Build Network Themselves

Work got underway in installing the in-school network after the operating system was upgraded to Windows 95 as the initially used Windows 3.1 failed to offer enough freedom for scope. The work involved in this was all done by the teachers themselves. Back then, there were no suitable books available on the subject of networks, so the teachers had to rely on guesswork and instinct. By 1996, the number of PCs was gradually on the increase, so the schoolfs network was to consist of a link-up of one PC per classroom, in addition to the 20 PCs in the computer room. Initially, only the higher grades participated, but by 1998 enough PCs had been introduced to have a single machine per classroom for the third grade and upwards.

As the completed in-school LAN began to take shape, perceptible changes began in the uses to which the Onan Elementary Schoolfs network was put to.

Mr. Imaizumi, one of the teachers in charge, describes these changes as follows: gInitial use of the in-school network showed us that the best starting point was to exchange information on the school premises itself, i.e. with schoolmates in the next class, or with schools in the neighborhood. At first, we interacted with schools abroad, which the children found very thrilling. For all that, the same degree of excitement can be got by interacting with the class next-door. The children perceive the experience in much the same way, and therefs not that much difference between what they feel when exchanging information with the class next-door and with pupils overseas.h

They then took up the idea of letting the children interact with each other to provide themselves with the kind of information they require for learning, so that whenever they are stuck for information, all they have to do is turn to the outside world via the Internet and get what they need from there.

For instance, when looking up information for social science and other projects, the children post their own findings and queries on a bulletin board in a give-and-take process of information exchange. Information that they have found for themselves they make available to those in need of it, while also benefiting from the information they require whenever they find it posted by others. There comes a point with this learning process when the childrenfs information alone is insufficient. When this happens, it becomes necessary to turn to the goutsideh for support. It is on just such occasions that the children often have recourse to accessing the research institutions where the parents of children at Onan Elementary work.

Delight at Seeing Children Learn among Themselves

Mr. Morita, another teacher at Onan Elementary, spoke of what he has learned from watching the children by relating how fewer questions needed to be addressed externally once the children found that it was possible to exchange information among themselves. This doesnft necessarily take place, he says, among students of the same grade, but also often involves younger children getting advice from older children in the school. He adds that although this also entails mutual rivalry in addition to mutual help, it is nonetheless delightful to see the children learning among themselves.

Incidentally, for the childrenfs information exchange, they use a form of group-ware for use in schools, known as the gStudy Notebook.h This software allows children to enter what they have learned in a notebook, which they can then view on the Web, or send it in notebook format via e-mail, store it in a database, or post it on a bulletin board.

For their General Studies, the sixth grade are conducting an environmental survey of the River Hanamuro, which runs close by the school. A little further upstream from Onan Elementary School, Namiki Elementary School is also performing a similar survey on the river. The two schools are exchanging their survey information via the Internet in the Study Notebook format. The pupils of both Onan and Namiki Elementary Schools have free access to each otherfs bulletin boards, to view whatever they want, whenever they want. Also participating as instructors in this learning program are a number of people from the locality with specialist knowledge. Mr. Morita explains the idea behind these activities as follows : gWhat we wish to see is the harnessing of the Study Notebook and the Internet in investigative learning, while also involving people of the locality in this learning process, and ultimately getting all the parents to compile notebooks as well.h

Using Homepage to Record Memories

Once Onan Elementary School had presented school information on its home page, fathers apparently began to participate in educational activities more eagerly than ever before. Having the chance to look at photographs of school events and pupil compositions on the Internet during free moments at work, they will also occasionally send e-mail messages to the teachers. This, it would seem, prompted mothers to claim that they are being left out, and to voice requests that they have the opportunity to see as much as possible whenever they happen to be in the school.

Photographs of the children on the home page do not feature the face of any one child specifically, although there does not seem to be any degree of nervousness in this regard. Mr. Imaizumi comments that the page is produced just as much to record the childrenfs memories as to present information. He says that they want the page to feature a lot of photographs so that the children can look back at it and enjoy the memories there when they too have grown up.

As you will gather from these remarks, all the pages created by the children at Onan Elementary School are kept on the server so that graduates only have to put in a search command to retrieve a flood of fond memories.

Mr. Morita rounds off his comments about what the Internet has brought to the school by saying that it has extended the pupilsf potential for study, extended human ties and contacts available to them, and will serve to preserve a lasting record of their activities. Participating in the 100-School Networking Project, he concludes, had involved a lot of hard work, and in all probability not brought a single drawback to anyone.

(The information for this article was kindly provided by Mitsuru Morita and Hideki Imaizumi, teachers at Onan Elementary School)


3. Creating and Running an In-school Intranet to
Fulfill the gOpen-spaceh Ideal

Honcho Elementary School, Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture

Open School Culture Looking to Network with the Locals

Honcho Elementary School is a unique establishment, even apart from its school intranet. The school has done away with the compartments known as gclassroomsh so that the activities of each grade and class are carried out in an gopen-spaceh concept. The school says that there is a never-ending stream of people who come from all over the country to observe their unique system. Everything is gopen-space,h be it the teachersf desks, the conference area, the guest reception area, and even what we would normally call gthe staffroom.h Following the directions posted in the school brings you through a corridor which leads to the gopen spaceh in question. Here, in-school study meetings, meetings with visitors, and other discussions are carried out at a conference table located in one gopen-spaceh section.

The School and the Network

The school building has been designed on the kind of progressive lines you might expect in the port city of Yokohama. Honcho Elementary Schoolfs networking history goes back quite a few years. The first setup, now known as the intranet, was introduced in 1994 and consisted of one server operating on the Netware 3.1J (IPX/SPX) and 15 client machines. It was then that the veteran 10BASE-2 cable, which currently acts as the schoolfs backbone, was laid. The present cable, incidentally, is an extension of this older cable.

When the school joined the 100-School Networking Project in 1995, the server that arrived was PANIX. Before the arrival of this UNIX-compatible operating system, the school says that it had been plagued by six months of trial and error in trying to connect itself with the outside world.

Mr. Deguchi, a teacher at the school, impresses visitors as a cheerful and exceedingly dynamic figure. He laughs merrily as he explains how he had to gpester people to death with questionsh before he could get the hang of Internet mailing and other basic operations.

At all events, it was at around this time that the school started building up its TCP/IP network on the foundation of the 15 client machines described earlier. They now have 40 client units comprising of a site in which one machine apiece is allotted to the students, teachers, external servers, and proxy servers. It is the kind of system that any business enterprise would be proud of.

In implementing what you might call a mini-version of gNetday,h the school recruited a band of their old boys to lay the cable in the school premises. The pains they took are evident when we hear that the 10 BASE-T cable was attached directly to the ceiling indoors. The connection to the headmasterfs room was achieved by running the cable through the duct of the extractor fan. Such ingenuity was necessary because, for all its progressive modernity, the school building is not one of your so-called gintelligent buildings.h Still, laughs Mr. Deguchi, they could not very well bore holes in the building just to get the cables through.

Local Cooperation Needed to Run the Site

Quite apart from the laying of the cable, volunteers play a vital role at Honcho Elementary School.

During lessons, the pupils will sometimes create Web pages. Produced in this way, the pages consisted of fragmented parts of the various creations of different individuals, and cannot very well be presented to the public as they stand. Mr. Deguchi tells us that the school sometimes calls on volunteers to perform the work needed to put these creations into a kind of format that can be viewed externally on a WWW browser.

In what you might call a form of complimentary service, Honcho Elementaryfs 24-hour connection is made available on open days to the people of the local community, creating a freely accessible environment for the use of the members of the local Internet group.

Mr. Deguchifs remarks on the schoolfs relation with the local community are symbolic.

The fact is that, as is often the case, the school initially tried hard to create Web contents from a worldwide perspective (by issuing an English version). Nonetheless, it shifted its priorities to fostering its relations with the local community as the result of an e-mail message from one of the parents. This parent had happened to come across Honcho Elementaryfs Website when browsing through the Internet at work, and had been thrilled to see featured at the site, a picture drawn by his own daughter. The experience prompted the parent to send the e-mail message to Mr. Deguchi.

Equipment offering Internet access is likely to find a widespread place in the home as a household appliance in days to come. When this happens, no one is going to be more eager to view the artistic creations and academic results of the children than the parents themselves. The bond that links the school with the local community is thus the natural bond between the children and their parents.

PCs Essential for the Job

The first thing any teacher assigned to Honcho Elementary does is to buy a laptop PC. This is because at Honcho, no teacher can expect to perform his or her job without a PC. It is far from uncommon these days for teachers to compile their yearly planning sheets, routine documents, forms, and the like on word-processing and spreadsheet softwares etc.. Honcho Elementary has gone one step further: teachers have their own server on which work can be submitted.

It occurred to me when I heard this that it would mean that the teachers themselves are paying for these PCs out of their own pockets. Given that the average salaried worker would probably buy between two and three laptops in the course of a lifetime of PC use, the expense incurred by the individual is quite considerable. Surely it would be a better idea for the Ministry of Education and the various boards of education to allot grants to cover the expense of buying PCs for the teachers as well as the children.

Servicing of Equipment a Big Problem...

Yet, Honcho Elementary School is extremely fortunate. Quite apart from their collaborative links with the local community, it is enough to post a notification of any new hardware or software presentation to have the teachers gather on the day and time in question to observe the particulars for themselves.

The school takes the view that, rather than looking to any one individual to possess all the know-how and skills, everyone in the group should understand what is involved in computerization, which is increasingly becoming a part of their daily lives. After all, what matters are the changes that time has in store for us.

One cannot help but wonder who will supervise the schoolfs intranet once Mr. Deguchi has been transferred to another school. The remaining teachers will no doubt find themselves faced with the pressing problem of how to deal with the work involved in maintaining and extending the system currently in operation.

Mr. Deguchi expresses little concern about client software, because most of the teaching staff can handle this themselves. His concerns lie with the management of the server, since, at the present time, only he is capable of managing it.

Does the person responsible for the upkeep of the in-school computers and the system they form need to be a member of the teaching staff? Honcho Elementary is now turning its attention away from server supervision by teaching staff, exploring instead alternative possibilities such as transferring to a stable automated system or entrusting the work to the kind of local volunteers mentioned earlier.

We wish Honcho Elementary School luck with its project, and hope to see them providing the world with their local elementary school home page long into the future.

(The information for this article was kindly provided by Kazuo Deguchi, teacher at Honcho Elementary School)


4. Real-time Communication via a High-speed Line
Answering Childrenfs Queries on the Spot

Rinkan Elementary School, Yamato, Kanagawa Prefecture
Shinno Elementary School, Minato-ku, Tokyo

What a High-speed Line Enables You to Do

The introduction of the Internet in schools is progressing apace with the aim of having all schools connected to the Internet by the year 2003. In the meantime, more than 1,000 schools are to see the installation of 1.5 Mbps high-speed lines in 1999 thanks to the collaborative efforts of the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications and the Ministry of Education. In a preparatory step carried out under the 100-School Networking Project (Phase II) gAdvancement Project,h the Rinkan Elementary School in Kanagawa Prefecturefs Yamato City and the Shinno Elementary School in Minato-ku, Tokyo were linked via a high-speed line in January 1998 for a practical lesson. Naturally, as high-speed lines had not yet been installed in either of the schools, each of the schools took itself to a facility equipped with a 1.5 Mbps high-speed line, one in the Information Technology Promotion Agencyfs Tokyo-based headquarters and the other in Kanagawafs Information Infrastructure Center. It was from these two points that the trial lesson took place.

The first thing examined in this practical trial lesson was the question of precisely what can be achieved via a high-speed line. Ever since the 100-School Networking Project began, a large and diverse amount of inter-school interactive exchange has taken place, which has led to a wide range of encouraging results. Yet, there can be no denying the increasing claims that a line speed of only 64 Kbps does present an obstacle to usersf aspirations. In terms of technology, interactive communications featuring video and audio can be carried out perfectly well over the Internet, although it is difficult to transmit the senderfs features and voice patterns in an uninterrupted natural fashion at a speed of 64 Kbps. The use of a high-speed line enables joint lessons to be carried out smoothly in real-time featuring audio and video.

Joint lessons that reap the maximum merits of such high-speed lines, realizing high-quality real-time communications will surely allow the teachers to maintain childrenfs interest in the learning process not simply during the course of the lesson itself, but also before and after each of such lessons.

The theme chosen for the trial lesson was gIntroducing the Town We Live in.h The idea behind this was that by getting to know about other localities with differing natural, social, and cultural elements, it would bring the children an awareness of the benefits of their own locality, thus making the initial step towards understanding themselves and others.

The Superb Performance You Would Expect from a High-speed Line

Besides audio and visual displays, the joint lesson also used a shared Web announcement display, with questions and impressions written by the children being read by a calligraphic camera and then displayed on the computer. In order to achieve this successfully, they used commercially available browser software and television-conferencing software. The joint lesson also succeeded in bringing together on one screen the Web display and the images taken by the video cameras of both schools. This was then displayed via a large-scale projector.

On the high-speed line, video and audio were perfectly incorporated into real-time interactive communication in a natural, uninterrupted motion. The biggest problem the experiment faced was the gathering of questions, impressions, and comments. It is essential for effective interactive lessons to have quick exchanges of comments and opinions. This must not, however, interrupt the thinking processes of the children. Despite the feasibility of a two-way interaction with both sound and images, this medium uses up too much valuable time when it comes to the exchange of opinions and comments allowed in a limited time frame. It is also difficult at present for elementary school children to input information on the keyboard. That is why each of the children were asked to write down questions and queries on cards with up to 12 cards put together to form one image. To make these images as readable as possible when displayed on a large-scale screen, they were read at the maximum resolution, making for extremely large file sizes. However, transmission via high-speed cable ensured that everything went smoothly.

90 Minutes Over in No Time at All

The trial lesson was conducted over 90 minutes between 9:30 and 11:00. After each schoolfs announcements, which lasted about an hour, questions were organized and each school was given the opportunity to answer the questions posed. At one point, extremely poor sound quality meant that the computer had to be reset. While this was happening, some of the children began to lose concentration, but on the whole, they participated in the lesson with great enthusiasm.

Interactive lessons via a high-speed 1.5 Mbps line successfully enable pupils to enjoy a high-quality learning experience. The smooth video images reveal the childrenfs avid features in great detail. These video images go beyond anything imaginable on the 64 Kbps lines we had been using. Children, however, take everything for granted, and accepted the medium in no time at all. The experimental lesson showed the children perfectly at ease with the medium. In other words, the successful realization of video images meant that the children were able to participate in the lesson without being at all conscious of the video element. Most of the children expressed their wish to participate in a similar lesson again, this time with children from a different locality.

The Basic Question is the Most Profitable Topic of Learning

Ms. Asano, one of the teachers at Rinkan Elementary, relates how the experience showed her that a high-speed 1.5 Mbps line allowed them to enjoy the advantages of the computer, making it more accessible as a tool. She says that what we all now need to study in greater detail are aspects such as how best to take advantage of a high-speed line and what areas can most benefit from the application of the Internet. What is more, in her view, the interactive learning so far carried out under the 100-School Networking Project is bound to go even smoother once it becomes possible to use high-speed lines. She adds that she feels that we are likely to hear no more of ambitions thwarted by the state of the line, making it possible to use the Internet as a stress-free tool on a daily basis.

Application of high-speed lines could well lead to a transformation in the gquality of education.h This is why the teachers themselves are going to have to change the way they look at teaching materials. If the children, the teachers, and the parents are going to change, then we must identify what is to be taught via the Internet and see it as an essential part of learning.

Although this trial only involved the linking up of two schools, the simultaneous real-time linking up of multiple schools in interactive learning will be possible by harnessing 1.5 Mbps high-speed lines to more powerful computers. Yet, in such cases, the issue here is what shape the lessons are to take with the use of such multiple displays. If the lessons are to proceed effectively for each of the schools concerned, then it will be essential for each party to engage in closely discussed coordination in advance. Also indispensable to improve effectiveness within restricted time limits will be the support of technical staffs.

In short, high-speed lines bring just not one possibility, but a wealth of conceivable potentials. If we are also to take maximum advantage of the Internet as a means of communication, it will only come as the result of a succession of future practical trials backed, as a matter of course, by high-speed lines.

(The information for this article was kindly provided by Tomoko Asano, teacher at Rinkan Elementary School, and Shinichi Sato of the Mitsubishi Research Institute, Inc.)


5. A Place to Talk with People from All Over the World!
Overcoming the Language Barrier

Rinkan Elementary School, Yamato, Kanagawa Prefecture

Using International Interaction to Help Pupils Learn Japanese

It was in 1997 with the launch of the 100-School Networking Project (Phase II) gKIDLINK Project,h a project focusing on internationalization, that elementary school and junior high school children under 15 began taking part in the KIDLINK International Interaction Project, which aims to have the children communicate in ways that are most suited to the age of the individual. With a view to vitalizing interaction, a variety of means and systems were prepared both in Japan and overseas. However, it took longer than expected to decide which schools from Japan were to participate, with the result that the meeting to declare the project open did not take place until the end of October 1997. Even then, the project did not get off to a smooth start, because this was the first experience of its kind for most of the participating schools, which took longer than expected to get a clear picture of what the project was about.

Their first taste of international interaction brought its fair share of difficulties, which included among many others, (1) the difficulty of finding partners, (2) the difficulty of maintaining the interactive exchange, (3) the difficulty of developing the interactive exchange, and (4) the difficulty in accomplishing meaningful interactive exchange. The Japanese schools worked together, however, to overcome these difficulties.

Rinkan Elementary Schoolfs International Workshop also participated in the project as a coordinating interface. Rinkan Elementary School has been engaged in computer-aided education ever since 1989. The schoolfs International Workshop was initiated in 1996 and it teaches Japanese mainly to children from South America. Normally, these children would join newly formed classes at the beginning of the academic year, taking part in lessons along with the Japanese children. In many cases, however, the children face difficulties, because differences in customs and culture often prevented the children from understanding each other.

Children in the International Workshop come to the workshop to learn Japanese whenever the other members of their class have their regular Japanese lessons. The school has also continued to look into ways of using the Internet for interactive exchange to enable these children to stay in touch with their mother tongue. In 1977, the school consulted with an American teacher named Patty so see if they could not broaden the scope of their international interaction. As a result of calling on all the members of KIDLINK around the world for help, schools from Peru and Brazil came to join the project. Now the children in the International Workshop have started a number of activities with children in their respective native country, telling them in Spanish how their Japanese studies are progressing and sending them pictures to give them an idea of life in Japan.

The Need to Broaden the Scope of International Interactive Exchange in Japan

Because children from so many different countries take part in KIDLINK, participants have been able to find a wide variety of exchange correspondents. Project backup had already taken shape and includes translation support in both English and Spanish. Thanks to this backup, the project is already enjoying specific results.

Just one of these achievements has been the creation of a Japan-based forum.

As was mentioned earlier, the launch of interactive exchange with schools overseas is very likely to be fraught with a variety of difficulties. Therefore, a special theme was created to back this project along the following lines: gJapanese schools engaged in exchange with schools overseas need to get together and interact among themselves in Japan so that they can learn together and show each other what they have achieved with their own international exchange activities.h They planned their activities around a variety of issues such as how to succeed with the kind of continuous interactive exchange with schools overseas that will enable shared learning, how best to join forces in finding themes and subjects to be used in lessons, and other tasks that they felt they should be dealing with. This building up of a domestic forum has not only involved network-based interaction. The administrative office of the CEC has also offered support by creating the opportunity for participants to get together and talk directly in a conference setting. For this purpose, the CEC has made an office available for meetings several times a year. Such opportunities to discuss things directly have enabled participants to successfully understand points that could not be clearly explained via e-mail, show each other something of their own efforts by exchanging photographs, and to discuss their ideas for developing exchange activities. The forums have given the participants the confidence and assurance to carry on with their interactive exchange.

The KIDLINK Bulletin Board

KIDLINK originally constituted of international volunteer activities that aim at multilingual and multicultural support. Its most prominent activities in fact comprised principally of works in English, followed by works in Spanish and Portuguese. Problems in language apparently made it difficult for Japan to participate. A prototype English bulletin board was initiated in July 1998, which was followed in November of the same year by the launch of a Japanese version. For example, messages posted to Japanese children on the English bulletin board were also posted on the Japanese version of the board, this time with a Japanese translation attached. In turn, replies in Japanese posted on the Japanese board were added to the English version of the bulletin board with an English translation. This provided a useful link between the two bulletin boards. This idea has enabled the children to participate freely and directly in Japanese without being held back by the consciousness of language difference.

A popular favorite in these activities was the topic of gHow to Protect the Horseshoe Crab.h

Said to be a living fossil, the horseshoe crab is an extremely rare creature, whose habitat is limited to only four sites around the world. Valuable information about the horseshoe crab came in from Americafs East Coast (Del Mar Elementary School), from a locality on Japanfs Inland Sea (Akiho Elementary School, Yamaguchi Prefecture), and from the staff of a Japanese school in Southeast Asia. E-mail exchange also started with the horseshoe crab specialist, Dr. Hall of Delaware University, who lives in the vicinity of Del Mar Elementary School and who has published books on the subject of marine biology. Dr. Hall sent the school some pamphlets about the horseshoe crab, as well as some literature explaining how to construct model horseshoe crabs. The pupils lost no time in making Japanese versions of these model horseshoe crabs, which delighted Dr. Hall when he was shown photographs of the results.

The International Workshop at Rinkan Elementary School prints out the successive progress of its exchange activities, which are presented on the bulletin boards in the school corridor. As the International Workshop is next to the music classroom, all the children in the school find themselves passing it at least once a week. The sight of the children standing and gazing intently at the notice board and reading the messages out loud, as well as the sights and sounds of activities from inside the International Workshop bear ample witness to the interest of the children. It goes without saying that the children in the International Workshop were also thrilled to hear their pictures admired.

The theme that has underlain the studies at Rinkan Elementary for the past few years has been gAspiring to be the kind of children that care for the bonds between man and his natural environment.h By showing the International Workshopfs notice board to the whole school, the school is striving to make the human bonds forged over the Internet by the children in the International Workshop into human ties that the entire school can enjoy and appreciate. Also, the International Workshopfs theme of gHow to Protect the Horseshoe Crabh has not gone to waste, but has been shown to the entire teaching staff and been made into the subject of lessons and study projects in the school.

It is absolutely splendid to see the fruits of international exchange being shared throughout the school in so many different ways, whether on the Internet bulletin board or on the schoolfs notice board.

Interaction that Goes Further Than the Exchange of E-mail

Interaction with people overseas allows you to bring fresh insights onto your own way of life and affords you the chance of making new discoveries. By not restricting such activities to themselves but also creating a forum in Japan to foster further learning among schools engaged in international exchange, schools are bound to see further advances in their mutual exchange activities. This in turn is sure to lead to joint learning activities over and above the simple exchange of electronic mail.

I hope to see international interaction continue long into the future, for by developing interaction between two points to embrace wider exchange, it has the potential to make the entire world the stage for joint learning experience.

(The information for this article was kindly provided by Isamu Shimazaki, teacher at Rinkan Elementary School)


6. E-mail : Helping Children Answer Their Own Questions
Mail Volunteers to the Rescue

Hirano Municipal Elementary School, Otsu, Shiga Prefecture

Have You Heard About Nationwide Q&A Mail?

Hirano Elementary Schoolfs Nationwide Q&A Mail is just one of the projects independently devised by schools taking part in the 100-School Networking Project to be developed into a jointly used project. This project consists of a service listing the names of volunteers recruited to answer childrenfs questions by e-mail. Children search this list of volunteers for someone who can best answer their questions by looking at the gspecialist fieldh space beside the names of each of the volunteers. They then send mails directly to the person who seems qualified to answer their questions. The number of volunteers listed now amounts to over 250 people.

The Internet is a rich mine of information, and the children only have to go to the Internet to obtain the various information they need. The information is available not only from home pages, but also, for example, in the form of Nationwide Q&A Mail, which brings live information to questioners in the shape of direct e-mail answers from experts in the field.

Some have voiced the concern, however, that this form of service could end up being an information vending machine. Mr. Ishihara, the teacher responsible for creating Nationwide Q&A Mail responds to these concerns by saying that his aim in creating the service was to make the act of asking people questions a part of the learning process itself. Those who answer the questions, he says, are individual human beings made of flesh and blood and so when asked what one plus one makes, they do not necessarily restrict themselves to replying with a bare gtwo.h A more vividly realistic answer will often be the case, which in itself goes to making a form of interactive exchange between people, he says. It is this aspect that Mr. Ishihara wants to bring to the learning process. What they are really looking to the e-mail volunteers to provide is not so much just the answer itself as the reply that will also show how to go about arriving at the answer and searching for the solution. Learning, he reflects, represents a strain for children, and people are mistaken if they think that using a computer will remove this strain from the learning process. The learning process must progress with just the right degree of strain, he cautions. He thus expressed his belief that the use of Nationwide Q&A Mail is not likely to turn into anything as facile and labor-saving as the automatic vending machine.

How Come Rabbits Have Long Ears?

Nationwide Q&A Mail came into being shortly after Hirano Elementary School connected to the Internet, springing from a first-grade Life Sciences study project called gGetting Along with Animals.h In this project, the children came into direct contact with animals, an experience that led to increasing queries about living creatures. One typical example of such a question is gHow come rabbits have such long ears?h

In conventional learning activities, the teacher would answer such questions from the children there and then. In this Life Sciences study project, however, it was decided that, for full application of the Internetfs media possibilities, the question should be addressed to a biology teacher at one of the high schools taking part in the 100-School Networking Project, that is, a specialist in the field. In response, there arrived a thoughtful reply which was worded in just the way you would speak when addressing children in person.

This kind of practical experience revealed that it was possible to transform the conventional one-way gteacher-infanth relationship by using the Internet to bring to the children an expert opinion. The Internet has enabled the school to bring a breath of fresh air into the classroom environment, a freshness that can, we hear, be tangibly felt.

The Internet, a Treasure Trove for Investigative Learning

Nationwide Q&A Mail was first brought into action on a practical and organized basis in the fifth-grade Local Industries lessons. In investigating the local industries of each region, lessons proceeded in three stages: collections of links, followed by searches on search engines, and finally Nationwide Q&A Mail. Using the Internet in this way for investigative learning led to e-mail correspondences, enabling relationships to be built up with correspondents via the computer. It thus became possible to be aware of the identity of the warmly responsive human being at the other end of the line.

The computer room at Hirano Elementary School has been assigned the status of gMedia Center.h Although this Media Center issues gannual information education directives,h teachers in charge are not subjected to restrictions and are always free to take advantage of the Media Center. When engaging in investigative learning on a group-by-group basis, activities are left to the independent judgement of the children themselves, so that one group will go to the library to do their research and another group will come to the Media Center to investigate on the Internet.

You might say that this has brought a greater transparency to the media used as a means of information gathering. If the library is transformed into a media center collectively housing all forms of media, then this is likely to bring about an even more dynamic role to Nationwide Q&A Mail.

For the Network Citizens of the Future

Nationwide Q&A Mail has been going for almost three years now. Looking back on these three years, Mr. Ishihara comments that he feels Nationwide Q&A Mail was just a little ahead of its time. Widespread use of the Internet had been slow in coming and the children had not yet developed adequate keyboard skills. In these two regards, the teachersf concepts may, he says, have been running too far ahead of practical realities.

E-mail has already established itself as a generally accepted tool among adults. Elementary school children, however, are still hard put to send their own questions via e-mail. Nonetheless, Mr. Ishihara believes that it is essential for people to start using e-mail from the elementary-school stage if they are to master the etiquette, obligations, and responsibilities of a gnetwork citizen.h

Nationwide Q&A Mail started out, he recalls, back at a time when the Internet still had the aura of an idyllic intellectual community. Since then, various problems have emerged in using the Internet, such as security issues, the accessing of information ill-suited to educational purposes, and other such pitfalls. The times are now gone when a single local school could administer things by itself. The best idea, he reflects, would be for public bodies to administer the Internet.

Junior high schools have also voiced the desire to be part of Nationwide Q&A Mail, and the consent of the volunteers has been secured to extend the service to include junior high schools.

The increasing remoteness of human relations has once again come under scrutiny in the form of todayfs youth, living as they do in what could be called the computer age. We must try harder than ever before to steer the area of education onto a course that teaches the importance of the bonds that bind us as human beings. Information education is no different. Nothing could be further from the truth than that use of the Internet involves communing with a computer. There is always another human being sitting in front of a network-linked computer. Not only do network communities enable us to share knowledge, they also possess the function of strengthening human ties. This is one of the benefits of networking that we need to get across to children through a fine idea like Nationwide Q&A Mail.

(The information for this article was kindly provided by Kazuhiko Ishihara, teacher at Hirano Elementary School)


7. Joint Study Brings Home Network Power
- Nationwide Kenaf Germination Map -

Miyazaki University, Faculty of Education and Culture,
University Affiliated Elementary School

Kenaf, a Plant That Cements Human Ties

The 100-School Networking Project (Phase II) Priority Project gAdvanced Education Planh contains the gNationwide Kenaf Germination Maph for 1997 and 1998. The project involved sowing seeds of the plant known as kenaf simultaneously over the entire nation and producing a home page entitled gNationwide Kenaf Germination Maph to record the progress of growth and to post information about rearing this kind of plant. Yet, this was not all that the program aimed to achieve. It was also hoped that to the idea develops into a comprehensive learning experience that would go beyond the confines of the school subject gscienceh by promoting interactive exchange among children via the media of e-mail, bulletin boards, and the like and by exchanging information generally. What was it then that gave rise to such an ambitious undertaking on so large a scale?

Four members of staff were in charge when the 100-School Networking Project got off the ground, two on the side of the Elementary School and two on the Miyazaki University side. Mr. Nei, a science teacher, voiced the opinion that there was no point in using the Internet just for the sake of it. He said that we should find a theme that could be meaningfully developed in the subject of science. Mr. Okumura, the other teacher in charge, expressed the idea that they might use the Internet to accomplish something that had not been possible up to that point. It was on the basis of these two thinking that plans were discussed with the responsible parties from the university side as well, which resulted in the general opinion of gseeing if they couldnft sow seeds round the whole nation?after all there were schools in every locality?so as to form a kernel topic for expanded interaction relating to such aspects as the differences in the progress of growth among each locality, local characteristics, and so on.h

In the graising animals and plantsh section of school science, it is a routine part of the school education for pupils to sow seeds and individually record the growth process. There is nothing uncommon about this activity in itself. What was a novel feature of this project was that it involved contrasting the differences in regional environments by simultaneously sowing seeds over the entire country and then comparing the various growth processes.

They tended and raised the plants and began exchanging information about their activities. Schools interacted with schools, teachers with teachers, and pupils with pupils in a process that brought them all closer together. This is illustrated by the interaction that took place between Hokkaido Elementary School and Kumamoto Prefecturefs Yushima Elementary and Junior High Schools. The Hokkaido school had posted a message that their soil temperature was too low for successful germination. When the Kumamoto schools saw this message, they sent some kenaf plants that they had raised themselves to the pupils in Hokkaido. Also as a result of using the grown kenaf to produce paper, which they then used to correspond with the other participants, the project apparently led the children into becoming interested in current issues like paper resources and the environment.

The school used an electronic conferencing system to hold simultaneous lessons on several occasions with schools in the Nationwide Kenaf Germination Map project with whom especially meaningful interactive ties had developed. These other schools included Shiga Prefecturefs Hirano Elementary School, the Elementary School Attached to the Faculty of Education, Fukui University, and Kumamoto Prefecturefs Hitoyoshi-higashi Elementary School. For example, when they wanted the pupils to use kenaf as an example to reveal how living organisms and the environment stand in relation to one another and think about this relationship, they would divide themselves into groups and have them describe their conclusions group by group during the announcement period of the simultaneous lesson. A greater understanding of regional differences was gained by thus getting and contrasting opinions from other schools. Using an electronic conferencing system also has the advantage of enabling the participants to check for themselves in real time the state of the kenaf being grown by the other schools. The kenaf will then at a later date be made into paper and reach them in the form of a letter.

The project succeeded in comprehensively broadening the shared feelings and sympathies among the pupils cultivating the kenaf plant. Owing to the instability of the systems, which were still undergoing preparatory testing, the participants did experience a certain degree of difficulty. A lot of time was taken up on the telephone with frequent conversations that ran, gThe video images are coming through but we have no sound.h For all this, the benefits of the project exceeded all expectations.

Mr. Nei describes how communication leads to different conclusions, how doing things together engenders a feeling of camaraderie, and how a growing intimacy comes from interacting face to face. It is, he asserts, collaboration in the true sense of the word, a shared activity that brought with it the ambition to create something together. It is the kind of education that falls within the category of science without preoccupying itself solely with science. When he first heard of the 100-School Networking Project, he saw it as a vague, indistinct concept, but now, he says, nothing could have been translated into more concrete reality. He adds that he feels the children have taught him something. When conducting open study via the network, the teachers at the other end of the line would spend the better part of a day testing the equipment, and often spare time in their busy routines to help in preparing lessons together. He expresses the hope that they will not waste all the effort that has gone into the project so far, but will all carry on with the project in the days ahead. There are, however, considerable problems with financing the project, what with the cost of the line, system maintenance costs, and so forth. Mr. Nei tells us that he is wracking his brains in an effort to find the budget to cover expenses in the coming years.

Nationwide Kenaf Germination Map Took Three years to get into Full Swing

The fact is that the lack of knowledge about the kenaf plant itself prevented them from tackling it in the first year, when they sowed pumpkin seeds instead. This, we hear, ended in failure, because not only did the pumpkins die during the summer vacation in many regions, they also lacked adequate knowledge of the Internet. The unfortunate consequence of this was that the home page did not get off the ground until the very end of the summer holidays.

Mr. Nei explains that when he first started compiling the home page, he did not really have any adequate software to help him with the job, and so ended up wasting a lot of time and effort entering HTML tags one by one, a code that he was not conversant with anyway. Nowadays, he is spared a lot of the trouble because he can compile material on a word processor and output it in HTML format. If teachers are going to produce and maintain a home page, they are going to have to brush up their computer skills, he remarks, although other important factors are the provision of a comfortable creative environment and system administration.

Building on the previous yearfs failure with pumpkins, the following year they tried their hand at cultivating cotton. Germination and growth went well, and they were able to make fabric from the cotton they harvested. By this time, they had also successfully completed their home page and bulletin board, which allowed them to exchange views and information. In the meantime, the participating schools increased from an original 11 to a total of 24, all of which were to grow the kenaf plant the following year. In response to an e-mail message to the participating schools on the subject of what kind of plant they could sow, they received information that kenaf was an interesting candidate. Since they knew nothing about the kenaf plant, they had to look it up, a process that revealed it to be a rapid grower reaching some three to four meters in height, a fine absorber of carbon dioxide, and also a paper resource afterwards. Looking back on how they came to choose the kenaf plant, they realized that the reason that prompted their choice was that it presented thematic material for a great number of diverse issues: it absorbed large quantities of carbon dioxide, making it a good topic for global warming; it could be made into paper, which related it to woodland conservation; and it would present good material for comparing different growth patterns according to regional variations.

Mr. Nei made a rational analysis by commenting that although some 77 schools ultimately came to join the project, this could well have been as much because of kenaffs exotic-sounding name as for the properties of the plant itself. Nonetheless, the fact that the project gained the support of so many schools is clearly also an indication of the enormous effort put in by those concerned. The project has gone far beyond the usual bounds of a school activity, leading to increasing interaction with people encountered in the course of the Nationwide Germination Map activities. These contacts include, among many others, members of the Kenaf Society, whom the participants encountered when in search of kenaf seeds. Another offshoot of the schoolfs project is that Miyazaki has seen the formation of a Miyazaki Kenaf Society.

(The information for this article was kindly provided by Makoto Nei, teacher at Miyazaki University Affiliated Elementary School)


8. Gradually Applying the Internet into School Subjects

Katsurao Junior High School, Futaba-gun, Fukushima Prefecture

Lucky Encounter Helps Build Good System Environment

Katsurao Junior High School is well known for its use of the Internet and networking in pursuing a wide range of activities including all the normal school subjects, as well as ethics and other special activities. It was the initiation of the 100-School Networking Project back in 1994 that prompted Katsurao to install the first of its servers. The first person assigned to the in-school supervising of the newly installed server was not a computer expert but an ordinary member of the teaching staff. Insufficient time and inadequate skills on the part of this teacher meant that the server was initially very unstable.

The eventual smooth running of the server came not only from enhancing the skills of the teaching staff but also from the communicative process that took place among the people. The staff member assigned to the server back then, took part in an intermediate report conference held by CEC, where he happened to meet a member of the Tohoku Internet Association.

He told this member of the trouble he was experiencing getting the server to run smoothly and the member offered to lend them a server once the lease was up on their server and it had been returned. This was a splendid offer and the beginning of a splendid acquaintance that led to the school coming into contact with people engaged in computers and communications. It is no exaggeration to say that such encounters were responsible for making the Katsurao Junior High Schoolfs single server back then into the system it is today.

Subsequent extension of the system involved the teaching staff laying the on-premises LAN and installing the PC clients in each of the classrooms all by themselves. Although the in-school laying of the cable around the school and connecting up the PCs is not that difficult in itself, carrying out the settings, the system replacement and upgrades, the transfer to the ISDN line, extension of the system, and other such operations demanded expert knowledge. The teaching staffs were fortunate to enjoy consulting and support gratis from members of the Tohoku Internet Association and other people in the vicinity. Consultation about problems and upgrading was mainly carried out over the telephone or via e-mail, although when they reached an impasse, their helpers would even sometimes bring the required materials over free of charge.

Headmaster Mr. Haranaka gives the following account of the running of the in-school server and the difficulties involved: gSystem extensions and the like demand too much specialist knowledge for the ordinary staff member. At present, we have only two teachers capable of server management and administration. Calling in a commercial concern to carry out server maintenance would be too much of a financial burden, so we rely on the services of volunteers for this. We are humbly grateful for what everybody does for us.h

A critical factor in deciding whether a school can use the Internet in education if they install an in-school server is whether or not they can find someone to consult with when it comes to maintenance. This essentially has nothing to do with education and thus is not an ideal state of affairs at all. It is justifiable to say that it will be essential in future to provide the kind of systems and support mechanisms for schools introducing networking and the Internet to do away with all the difficulties and troubles that Katsurao Junior High School has had to face.

Recently, the need for system extensions has been removed for the present because the local server that has been installed in Katsurao Junior High School links up the school with Katsurao Elementary School and the neighboring Miharu Junior High School and Mikisawa Elementary School. The school has implemented the Abukuma local development project for systems extension so that it might be able to fulfill the function of local education intranet, and has started an experimental connection with the schools using wireless LAN.

From Investigative Learning to Information Dissemination

Mr. Maeda, who arrived at Katsurao Junior High School as a teacher when the 100-School Networking Project was in its second year, says that when they first connected to the Internet, they were mainly concerned with investigative learning from home pages. He remembers that back then teachers would search through home pages before lessons to find material that they could use in teaching their subject, which took up a great deal of time. Now, however, the children are allowed to use the Internet freely. Yet, although study for teaching material can be done in as little as two periods per single lesson period, the preparation and inspections, the preparation and making up of the teaching materials, and other such preparatory work take up an enormous amount of time. He underlines the scrupulousness the teachers bring to translating preparations into successful lessons by saying that they have to start preparing for lessons a month or so in advance, because, unable to use commercial teaching materials, they must compile such materials themselves, settle matters with those concerned over the Internet, and perform other time-consuming work. A further claim on their time is that they also have to carry out instruction study.

Teachers of each subject study how best to apply the Internet to the teaching of their respective subjects in the classroom, and are presenting their efforts by subject on sites called gSubject Rooms.h Subjects featured here include Science, Health & Physical Exercise, Japanese, Social Sciences, Mathematics, Art, Music, Manual Training, Ethics, Class Activities, etc. There are some subjects that benefit from the use of the Internet and others that do not, while there is a kind of education that is unique to the Internet itself. Another essential factor is at what point in the lesson to incorporate Internet material. Mr. Maeda suggests that it is a good idea to use it at the start of the lesson or in the course of problem solving. As the pupils experience difficulty in operating the equipment, he cautions that constant use risks turning the lesson into a PC lesson.

Hard experience has successively taught Katsurao Junior High School how to overcome each of these problems. It could be that due consideration should be given at an administrative level to finding some means of taking advantage of this valuable experience in schools newly setting out on Internet education.

The school has recently come to turn its thoughts to sending out information from its investigative learning rather than just receiving it to help the learning process. Whenever considering issuing onefs own information, it becomes necessary to look at whether one has the judgement and powers of expression to decide the nature of information to be provided, whom to target with what kind of information, and how best to present the information.

The school says that it has decided to focus on the kind of learning that attaches priority to the following three factors:

  • Applications of the Internet that encourage usersf enthusiasm to improve their powers of self expression
  • Applications of the Internet that improve the ability to make accurate judgements with regard to the value and content of information
  • Applications of the Internet that improve the ability to convey onefs own information accurately

The headmaster, Mr. Haranaka indicates the schoolfs belief in the significance of the 100-School Networking Project and their aspirations for the future in enthusiastically commenting that they are very grateful to CEC for the four years of help and encouragement the school has enjoyed ever since 1994. He expresses his belief that this will come in useful in building the infrastructure to support any computers that are introduced in the future in connection with the Ministry of Education, adding that the school is committed to bringing their experience to bear to the best possible effect.

The adjustment, running, and other technicalities of networking on the Internet, LAN or whatever are bound to become easier to understand in the future thanks to advances in computer hardware and software. However, as there will be no end to advances in computer technology and the enhanced functions of network and software needed to accommodate and fit smoothly into the complex fabric of our society are likely to make it difficult to run and maintain networks properly without specialist knowledge. On the other hand, Internet application and administration in schools are quite different from those that prevail in the mainstream area of business and consumer markets, making it essential that these areas be studied in a school-oriented context. It is vital that these differences be bridged and come to terms with. Internet users will find that their way of thinking vis-a-vis the Internet will change with a speed unknown hereto. We are going to have to show speed and flexibility in remaining in step with these changes.

(The information for this article was kindly provided by Nobuo Haranaka and Yuji Maeda, teachers at Katsurao Junior High School)


9. School News Project Links Japanese Schools
Internet-Hook-Up Squad Supports Networking

Maebashi No. 4 Junior High School, Maebashi, Gunma Prefecture

Illustrated Messages Break through Language Barrier

When the 100-School Networking Project started in Maebashi No. 4 Junior High School, the schoolfs Committee for Culture was busy with the theme of nuclear tests, being carried out at the time by France. In what ways do the opinions and reactions of Japan, the only country to have suffered the effects of nuclear war, differ from the reactions and opinions of France to nuclear testing? It was against this backdrop of fervent investigation into this very issue that the Internet environment arrived at the school, whereupon the newly set up Internet was harnessed to find the answers.

Mr. Orita, the teacher in charge of the schoolfs 100-School Networking Project activities remembers: gA questionnaire was compiled in both Japanese and English, which was posted both at home and overseas on Internet mailing lists. As a result of the large number of responses to this questionnaire, the school hurriedly put together a school home page. In a single week they had received hundreds of replies principally from French scientists. The total number of replies amounted to more than 2,000, which amazed both the children and myself.h The theme of Maebashi No. 4 Junior High Schoolfs Internet activities thus started as ginternational exchange and interaction,h which, from this impressive outset, has been their theme ever since. The school then went on to compile a questionnaire and other tools to look into the problem of AIDS. The school then formed its International Interaction Committee at the end of the academic year, to carry on its Internet activities, but as they took on the pressing challenges of their second and third themes, they came up against what seemed to be an intractable problem.

Mr. Orita explains the impasse: gThe language barrier was a big problem for us. We set out on interactive exchange with various countries like Canada and the United Kingdom, and all went well the first few times, when it was only a matter of introducing ourselves and asking preliminary questions. Communication didnft really progress significantly beyond that, because the English of our exchange partners was simply too difficult for us. We did try to overcome the problem in various ways, though. We tried team-teaching, inviting a visiting native teacher, and so on, but the problem remained.h

It was around this time that Mr. Orita chanced upon a project called GAKKOS. The schoolfs Art Club successfully joined the GAKKOS Project because it aroused their interest with topics like gWhy the whales came back.h These were written in English by British scientists, and the fascinating themes proved too attractive to let their poor English skill stand in the way. The concept was attractive because it involved the incorporation of illustrations and photographs to back the importance of the words. The idea was a great success, also delighting people overseas with English-subtitled pictures of whales, plants, and so forth.

Using School News to Strengthen Ties with the Pupils of Japanese Schools Overseas

However, relates Mr. Orita, for all its topical popularity, this is also something that is hard to keep going once youfve started. With a long-term schedule covering the entire year, he explains, they were in search of something that could be done simply without causing burn out every time. He describes how, in his quandary, he chanced upon an Internet project for educational institutions based overseas. The idea behind the project was to promote links and exchange between Japanese schools based overseas and schools in Japan. Seeing this as a meaningful concept, Mr. Orita undertook the role of project coordinator. The problem, he explained, was finding just what kind of activities to engage in to promote interaction. In the belief that too ambitiously grand a theme was not likely to be kept up long-term, he settled on the theme of School News on which to base their exchange. This involved trying to achieve interactive exchange in the form of questions and other reactions aroused by having each participating school post monthly news bulletins on a fixed theme on their home pages. The idea was that having the children introduce their own country and school to people overseas would enable them to feel as if they were acting as ambassadors or special correspondents abroad. What is more, this time the common language was Japanese, which removed any anxiety about language problems. This then was the beginning of the School News for Japanese Schools Project. The 100-Schools Networking Project had already been in operation for two years.

For all this, there were initially few schools abroad capable of setting up a home page. Hence, for the time being, they decided to have schools send them letters and photographs by regular mail or have them send text messages and images by e-mail. The pupils at Maebashi No. 4 Junior High School decided on the schools to take charge of various aspects of the project, and these schools are featured on No. 4 Junior Highfs home page. It goes without saying that the school also puts a great deal of effort into producing its home page.

These activities gradually made the schools participating overseas eager to produce home pages of their own. Eventually, the children at all the schools had created their own home pages.

Mr. Orita describes how the various home pages that came into being all showed individually unique traits, and all concerned directed enthusiastic effort to the creation of these pages. The problem, however, was that this state of affairs looked like accelerating into something like a home page contest, while the projectfs original aim of interactive exchange was falling by the wayside. Mr. Orita says that it was sometime between the autumn and early winter of 1998 that he realized that something had to be done to remedy this. With Christmas and the New Year approaching, it occurred to Mr. Orita that he could get the project back onto its interactive rails with Christmas presents and New Year greeting cards. The various participating schools were called on to describe to each other how they spent Christmas and the new year, as well as sending each other actual presents and cards by air mail.

This resulted in seven schools showing their full support, despite the sudden nature of the request. A heartwarming collection of presents typifying the unique customs of the various nations (a beautiful Chinese Christmas card in cut-out, a rare beeswax candle from Prague, etc.) began to arrive for the pupils at Maebashi No. 4 Junior High School. This exchange had the effect of bringing the children closer together and reawakening their appetite for communication once again.

Internet-Hook-Up Squad Active as Local Volunteers

Promotion of the project was beset by quite a few problems, whether they be in terms of hardware or finances. Mr. Orita describes the succession of difficulties they had to overcome to provide a network environment of one machine per student. While personally purchasing the parts to assemble one computer at a time, they linked up six machines to use in lessons. On the strength of these achievements, they successfully persuaded the local board of education to equip their computer room with 20 computers. Not only this, but they also succeeded in getting a manufacturer to allot them some prototype networking computers at a specially reduced price so that they could bring Internet access to the classrooms too. The problem here was the work involved in network installation. They decided to call on people from the local community for help. During the 1998 summer vacation, computer engineers and other specialists living in the locality gathered at the school as volunteers. After 13 hours of hard work, they eventually succeeded in completing the operations to install the network inside the classrooms. And so was born the Internet-Hook-Up Squad. This Internet-Hook-Up Squad then went on to extend its services to other schools, stepping up its activities to install the Internet in other schools in the region. In so doing, the squad has lent enormous support to building up the Maebashi Education Information Network (menet).

Mr. Orita explains that a major task they face is securing an effective promotion setup. Although the board of education plays a part here, he says, he would like to see the best use made of local human resources in the belief that it is necessary to foster human resources through a network that features as wide and various a spectrum of people as possible.

Springing initially from the activities of its Committee for Culture, Maebashi No. 4 Junior High Schoolfs Internet applications have since extended to embrace its International Interactive Communication Committee, its Art Club, and English and Science lessons. Its scope has not only gone on to embrace interactive exchange with foreign-based Japanese schools, but also endeavors to build up local networking. These achievements justify great hopes for yet further developments.

URL References

(The information for this article was kindly provided by Kazuto Orita, formerly teacher at Maebashi No. 4 Junior High School, currently on the Maebashi Board of Education)


10. The Greatest Problem ? the Studentsf English Skills
Effectively Arousing Studentsf Interest in International Affairs

Tokushima Junior High School, Tokushima, Tokushima Prefecture

Aiming at International Awareness

Virtual Classroom is a project undertaken by Tokushima Junior High School with the aim of gbroadening the studentsf international awareness. This was the objective of a contest organized by AT & T which set out to have classrooms in various distant locations on the globe link up with each other and engage in joint learning. In this way, it was hoped that children worldwide would learn international collaborative skills.

This involves interactive activities with schools in two foreign countries via television conferencing and e-mail. Tokushima Junior High School teamed up in the first year with The Ross School in the United States and St. Columbafs School in India.

Mr. Kagawa, a teacher at Tokushima Junior High, says that they decided to enter the AT & T Virtual Classroom Contest 1997 because they were looking to take on a challenge with a global perspective and wished to apply the potential of the Internet to the full now that they had finally succeeded in putting together a working Internet environment. The schedule they followed was as follows:

  • October 1?7 Meeting of those concerned
  • October 8?22 Self introduction session
  • October 23?November 5 Planning session
  • November 6?January 31 Work Session
  • February 1 onwards Review session

In the meantime, they communicated with television conferencing and e-mail, and pressed ahead with the preparatory work to achieve their ultimate objective, which was to produce the home page Multimedia Magazine featuring jointly created works. Nonetheless, it was only after they had started that they became aware of a major problem. Mr. Kagawa remembers: gTo be sure, one of the roles of the Internet is to give the classroom ga window on the world.h Yet, when we actually set about the practical application of this, we realized that a major obstacle stood in our way.h

Junior High School Studentsf English Skills Not up to the Challenge?

The problem was that the studentsf English skills were not equal to the task. During the first half, 32 members of the regular curriculumfs gInternational Interactive Exchange Clubh took part, being replaced in the latter half by 20 members of the regular curriculumfs gScience Club.h Mr. Kagawa recalls that although many of the students had pretty good grades in English, they still fell short in every aspect of practical English, be it listening, speaking, reading, or writing. This prevented the pupils from engaging in interactive communication in the real sense of the word, he says. When it came to television conferencing, they were unable to understand what their counterparts we talking about, and were equally unable to express their own opinions in English. Neither can it be denied that they had considerable difficulty in reading and composing e-mail.

It was then that Mr. Kagawa hit upon the idea of asking teachers from the English department to assist with the conversation during television conferencing and of introducing translation software for e-mail communications. For the television conferences, he explains, the help of four teachers of English was recruited who performed simultaneous translation, while for e-mail they tried using translation software on an experimental basis.

Although they did somehow manage with the television conferencing, they hit a snag with the translation software. The root of the problem again lay with the pupilsf poor English skills. Although, he says, many of the pupils could manage translations from English to Japanese, they were unable to judge whether a translation from Japanese to English was reliable or not. He says that the experience left him in no doubt that English skills at junior high school level are, frankly, hardly up to international communicative exchange. He further stresses that no matter how true it is that the Internet brings the classroom ga window on the world,h assistance from the teacher is nonetheless essential if pupils at the junior high school level are to avail themselves of this window.

Added Problems of Global Time Differences and Difference in School Systems

Another big problem, he points out, is which partner nation you have. During their initial year, their partner nations were the United States and India. Probably because Indiafs information network was not sufficiently advanced, the Internet line was unstable, making two-way simultaneous communications like television conferencing almost impossible. The upshot was that they only really carried out exchange activities with the United States. For their second year in the project they chose the Netherlands and Austria as their partner nations. This choice, however, proved to have major drawbacks. Both of these countries speak Teutonic languages, and are not proficient in English. When it comes to countries that are not proficient in English all trying to communicate in that medium, the results are not difficult to imagine. Mr. Kagawa illustrates his point by saying that at first, they even had difficulty pronouncing the names of their counterparts properly.

Other problems were differences in time zones and in the education systems. Their counterpart for television conferencing was in New York, where the time difference is 14 hours. Despite choosing a time that suited them both, this still meant that it was 8:00 a.m. in Japan and 6:00 p.m. over in New York. In other words, the only time that they could find that suited them both was outside normal school hours. The problem with differences in school systems is that the new Japanese school year begins in April and finishes in March, whereas in many countries overseas the new academic year begins in September and finishes in June. The problem here, he explains, is that at the beginning of a new calendar year, Japanese third-year students are faced with the impending high school-qualifying examinations, which effectively means that the third graders can only engage in international exchange activities during the second term. Mr. Kagawafs advice to schools thinking about taking up international exchange on the Internet is that they should ascertain and appreciate the many difficulties of this nature in advance and come to terms with them before they set out.

Pupils Show First Signs off International Understanding

However, this is not to say that they accomplished nothing. Although a great deal of trial and error was involved, the students who participated in the project did develop some splendid international insights. The results of a questionnaire survey conducted among the pupils showed a marked number who replied ghave become more interested in English.h The English-teaching staff are unanimous in their amazement at the fact that the students became thoroughly proficient in looking words up in the English dictionary, something that they had shown no willingness to do before in English lessons. gThe initiative they showed in looking up everything for themselves was quite admirable,h they concur. The pupils have also come to display a greater interest in things outside Japan, so much so that some student have come to want to enter a profession that will bring them into contact with other countries around the world. Mr. Kagawa believes that in this sense, they have achieved the first step towards international understanding, namely the awakening of interest. He entertains high hopes that some of the participating students will go on to pursue studies in international fields.

According to Mr. Kagawafs analysis of the project, it has, despite all the difficulties, been a success from the point of view that it has aroused this kind of interest and concern among the students. Although he voices a degree of regret that they didnft achieve the planned e-mail exchanges or specifically realize any of the jointly created works that they had set out to accomplish, he does feel justified in believing that it was a qualified success. Despite feeling some dissatisfaction at their performance from his position as a teacher, the project did, after all, arouse the interest of the pupils towards the world outside, and surely, this is what matters, he reflects.

Last year, 20 teachers from the United States visited Tokushima Junior High School on an observation tour arranged under the Fulbright Scholarship Program. After these teachers had returned to the United States, the pupils forward the idea of sending e-mail messages to them, which they set about composing under their own initiative. Such a spontaneous initiative could justifiably be described as one of the achievements of this project.

(The information for this article was kindly provided by Akira Kagawa, teacher at Tokushima Junior High School)


11. Actual Encounters Teach Limitations of E-mail
Online Debate Brings Occasional Heated Exchanges

Tohoku Gakuin Junior/Senior High School

For Interactive Exchange beyond School Framework

There is a game known as gDebate.h This was something I did not think was possible on line, that is, over the Internet, but here we have gOnline Debate.h

The form of debate that we are familiar with involves two opposing teams, one FOR and the other AGAINST a proposition, about which they have a fixed time limit, say three minutes, to argue their point. Speakers are forced to bring their speech to an end once the time limit is up. The point of this game is to see what kind of arguments the participants can deploy and how they can express these arguments before others in a limited time.

When debates are carried out on the Internet, the time limitation is replaced by a limit on the number of letters that can be used. Mr. Iguchi, one of the teachers at Tohoku Gakuin Junior/Senior High, smiles broadly as he explains the basics of Online Debate to me.

This is a pretty tough restriction, even for high school students, because it demands something more than the ability to express yourself in writing; what you need here are speed and accuracy in detecting what is essential and what is redundant in your written argument.

Once they have started, the students became literally absorbed in the Online Debate. They say that the given gletter limith of 800 characters or whatever set upon is always much too small for them to say what they want to.

An added difficulty is the rule that they have to finish composing their arguments and transmit them to their opponents in the debate within a fixed time. For example, the limit for the return might be set at 12 midnight on the day of reception. This means that participants in the Online Debate await the transmission of messages from their opponents with eager tension.

Online Debate Makes Debut as Open Lesson

Online Debate first saw the light of day as part of the open lessons planned by elementary, junior high, and high schools. It made its first appearance in 1996, at the staging of the Nationwide Congress of the All Japan Education Council.

Participating in this event were five schools from around the Tohoku region, including a mixed-education school, two girlsf high schools, a boysf school, and one school for the physically handicapped. It seems that the intention here was to bring together groups of students of the same age but of differing outlook. We hear that topics for discussion included, among others, gDo you think that school rules should be abolished?h

Representatives from each school pitted themselves against each other in the conventional debate in an open forum, while a specially installed television conferencing system relayed the progress of the debate to the various schools. This meant that those in the schools could also watch the debate and take an active part in the arguments via the network.

As some of the schools had not yet installed Internet facilities, they had to equip themselves from the ground upwards. Nevertheless, all the systems worked on that day. The greatest thing that occured from this event is that all had an opportunity to get to know something of how the outlooks of each group differed. It is this rewarding aspect that has, in all probability, ensured that Online Debate continued to this day.

Mailing list-based exchanges are currently conducted in the form of debates that can last anything between as little as two weeks to as long as three months. The contents of the debates that have taken place to date are made available on the Website, and these can be accessed and viewed by anyone.

Negotiation Bottleneck

The school says that it experienced no particular difficulties with the technological side of things. As they had powerful support backing them, all they had to do was ask for it, allowing them to concentrate on the job in hand.

What is more, they did not attempt to push themselves any further in terms of the scale or technological level of their Internet undertakings than is currently generally within the reach of most people. In the open lesson experiment described above, they contented themselves with chat in text format, as the audio and video transmitting CU-SeeMe would have put too great a strain on their network resources.

What proved difficult if anything, was the interpersonal coordination of the people involved in the administration. When attempting to get the students of the various schools together for a study meeting in advance, they had a hard time ensuring its consensus with regard to times that they had to use their preparatory liaison mailing lists to the full. There was also apparently no end to the paperwork needed for the authorization of student delegations. This was needed because of the added risk, among other worries, that, by giving the students the opportunity of meeting up beforehand, they could be involved in accidents on the way to and from the meeting.

There was also the difficulty of each school interpreting the concept of Online Debate in completely different ways, which was only natural given that debating does not exist as a regular subject on the curriculum. As a result, every school showed minute variations in their attitude to the project: one interpreted the Online Debate as a form of club activity, another saw it as part of a Japanese language lesson, while another took it as merely an optional extracurricular activity.

Hidden Pitfalls of the E-mail Medium

Online Debate is currently conducted within mailing lists. This can lead, says Mr. Nakoshi (in charge alongside Mr. Iguchi of Online Debate activities), to exceedingly untoward consequences. Although debate is essentially a game, it can involve an emotional element. After all, e-mail is a new medium in which the correspondents remain invisible to each other, which potentially involves apprehension. This apprehension can actually become threatening if your opponent launches an attack in the debate.

The upshot is that opponents can come to blows via e-mail, explains Mr. Nakoshi with a cheerful laugh, pointing to a states of affairs that they have actually experienced. Certainly, almost all of the Online Debate first-timers have gone through this stage.

This is borne out by the unanimous feeling expressed by the students that actually meeting the offending opponent banishes all animosity to make a rewarding encounter. A boy with only gloomy foreboding before seeing the face of his opponent will come back from an actual encounter having made a new friend. Talk of such experiences is heartwarming, but it is nonetheless a painfully damaging experience for those who never get a chance to meet in person, to heal the wounds inflicted on each other during e-mail bouts. Psychological counseling is needed here. It all goes to show the difficulties experienced by those involved in administering the project.

Support Desk Urgently Needed

Mr. Nakoshifs remarks at the end of the interview made a special impression on me. He prefaced his comment by saying that he felt that this applied to schools everywhere and not just the Online Debate. The 40,000 schools destined to install computers in the days ahead are, he reflects, bound to have exactly the same experiences as those gone through by the 100 or so schools to date. This means that they are going to find themselves in the position of having to come to terms with, for example, the kind of emotional e-mail exchanges just described.

What Mr. Nakoshi is saying is that though `experience` may have its wonderful side, first experiences also bring with them their pitfalls, which can actually turn out to become enormous problems.

He goes on to say that the 100-School Networking Project and all the schools involved have successfully achieved what you might call a family-like rapport in which each has a recognizable identity. Yet, this will be impossible with 40,000 schools. It was only after they had tried debating that they found themselves surprised by the serious fervor of it all. Although it is important, he concludes, to encourage onefs successors by pointing to the rewards involved, it is even more important to make available to them advice about courses that can lead to disaster.

(The information for this article was kindly provided by Iwao Iguchi and Yukio Nakoshi, teachers Tohoku Gakuen Junior/Senior High School)


12. Administering a Website on the Basis of Achievements of Illustrated International Interactive Exchange
- Flexible Project Looks to Multiple Benefits with Application of Available Systems and Resources -

Shimizu Kokusai Junior/Senior High School

What is Non-text-based Communication?

What Mr. Iyanagi is organizing at Shimizu Kokusai Junior/Senior High is a form of international communicative exchange based principally on the medium of pictures rather than text, in other words, communication through pictures. What exactly does this involve?

Letfs suppose you have sent a Finnish friend at Christmas time a picture of an undecorated Christmas tree. The message that this will communicate, says Mr. Iyanagi, is that you are inviting your friend to decorate it for you. The once bare Christmas tree will in all probability, he suggests, be returned to you beautifully decorated. What this amounts to is that, with nothing but a gHi!h by way of greeting, you will have been able to get the feeling that you have got through to your correspondent. This alone, he enthuses, is surely a splendid form of communicative interaction.

When pictures fail to convey the whole story, an explanatory message can be added. Volunteer translators are called upon to overcome any language barrier in these messages. Mr. Iyanagi explains that there are many possible variations to this: you can simply send a picture and have your friend put a story to it; you can have your friend embellish the picture you have sent with further pictures; and so on and so on. This, then, is the theme that Mr. Iyanagi has brought to the 100-School Networking Project. The idea springs from a successful 12-year track record with the gEarth Club.h Initially, pictures drawn on paper were used for international interactive communication. With the advent of the Internet, the participants in the exchange activities display their artistic achievements to one another on their home pages, making them available not only to themselves but also to anyone who wishes to view them.

Avoiding Single Preoccupations and Looking for Multiple Benefits

Pasting pictures onto a home page is simple enough once you have learned the procedure, which can not be said for the process involved in creating the pictures to be featured on the home page. While drawing tools like coloring pencils and crayons are familiar items to children, the PC still has a long way to go before children feel at home with it as a picture-drawing tool. In most cases, children have had no experience, and have to be introduced to drawing on a PC from the basics upwards.

In this context, Mr. Iyanagi has been responsible for setting up what he has chosen to call gHome Page Production for Beginnersh rather than a gDrawing Class.h gHome Page Production for Beginnersh takes the form of an open school course organized by the Shizuoka Prefecturefs Institute for the Promotion of Lifelong Learning. His more typically gclassroom-orientedh activities take place in the PC Applications Room of Shimizu Kokusai Junior /Senior High.

In commenting on the running of the course, he says that the instructor cannot hope to handle everything alone, because he is dealing with children who have never touched a computer before in their lives. He recruits volunteers from among the students at the school, and has these volunteers take turns in helping him with the course. In this way, he links the finished works to the 100-School Networking Project and has them transferred to the international interactive communications home page at Shimizu Kokusai Junior High/Senior High.

Mr. Iyanagi says that he is motivated in his work by the desire to channel back into the local community some of the benefits of the 100-School Networking Project, paid for as it is by money from the taxpayers. That is why he has used the open course as an interface to invite local elementary school children (representatives of the local community) to come and try their hand at creating Web contents for international interactive communication. After all, such activities have a bearing on the use of the Internet in schools. As for the students who generously spare the time to act as volunteers, they benefit from the experience in one way or another because it forms part of the regular curriculum club activities (lesson guidance) they do at junior high school. In short, Mr. Iyanagi is looking to achieve multiple benefits by flexibly combining available resources.

gAchievement Demonstrationh for Parents of Children on Courses Enjoyed in Family Atmosphere

I interviewed Mr. Iyanagi on a Saturday early in the new year, when he had given me an invitation to an gAchievement Demonstration,h to which he had urged me to come. When I arrived there, I found the computer room filled to capacity with 22 children and their parents. Incidentally, Mr. Iyanagifs wife had acted as the receptionist for the gathering, and the student volunteers had seen to all the computer settings. All in all, it was a very do-it-yourself, family atmosphere. Mr. Iyanagi stood in front of the class, called on the students one by one, had them announce what they had achieved, and then awarded them with their graduation certificate. It was the graduation ceremony of the school open course, coming as the culmination of a total of 13 classes held on a twice-monthly basis. Afterwards, the families gathered to look at each otherfs Web contents before finally returning home.

With the parentsf consent, the assembled creations of the children are featured on the Shimizu Kokusai Junior/Senior Highfs Website for a limited period of one year in a format that does not allow the specific identification of any one individual. Each childfs creation consists of an illustrated story of about eight pages in length in a single-page format that only needs to be scrolled down for viewing. The creations have been produced on the Windows standard Paintbrush accessory. A short explanatory text has been added to each picture. Volunteer translators, we hear, translates these captions before the contents are transferred to the Internet.

There can be no denying a lack of professional polish by professional Web designer standards. Nonetheless, they are all masterpieces of creation when you consider that their creators had never come into contact with a PC before (on software with only very limited features). Our humble admiration must go to the patient instruction devoted by Mr. Iyanagi and his group of volunteers.

100-School Networking Project Groundbreaking in Its Support of Independent Initiatives

Mr. Iyanagi talks throughout the interview with an ungrudging smile, though he appears to entertain anxiety about the use of the Internet facilities and line.

For instance, what arrived was a three-unit set consisting of a 24-hour connection line, server, and client. Fears about building up and extending the system to form an gInternet-worthy setuph have been allayed with the addition of client servers, which currently stands at eight. And now, there is a constant flow of students who come to use them every day. Nonetheless, back then, he recalls, he was unable to envisage what form the 100-School Networking Project was ultimately going to take. The problem here, he explains, is that he couldnft see how they were going to maintain the facilities once the project had come to an end. After all, when the 100-School Networking Project was first introduced, the devoted line was a considerable financial burden.

For all this, he has absolutely no complaints. He sees the 100-School Networking Project as one of unprecedented vision. The specific reason for this glowing assessment is that it fulfills the ambitions and aspirations of teachers, who only have to fill in a few forms to have a whole network environment delivered to their door. Back then, this was something quite beyond belief.

Internet Match-making System Needed for Communicative Interaction

On the subject of International interactive exchange, Mr. Iyanagi points to the difficulty of finding suitable partners. How should you react to an e-mail message received from someone whose identity and whereabouts are an absolute mystery to you? As the Internet is a world where anything goes, this could be a camouflaged approach from someone with a grudge against you. It is essential that you put in enough effort to build up a relationship of trust.

If all those concerned in the activities had sufficient time, they could see that everything was explained thoroughly. Yet, the problem here is that the teaching staff do not have enough time. A further snag is that, although you might at last have found a suitable partner, this does not always mean that you will be able to agree on a mutually satisfying theme.

Mr. Iyanagi believes that it would be a good idea if the 100-School Networking Project were to organize and make available a ehelp deskf that would introduce overseas schools engaged in a theme that is in line with the one a Japanese school is planning to undertake. Such a service, he says, would help the teachers both in Japan and the partner nation to set about the real business at hand with the assurance that they are interacting with a partner whose identity is clear and whose theme is common to them both.

(The information for this article was kindly provided by Tsuyoshi Iyanagi, teacher at Shimizu Kokusai Junior /Senior High School)


13. New Classes with Themes and Ideas
Going beyond English Studies to Create a Forum for Mutual Understanding

Tezukayama Gakuin Izumigaoka Junior/Senior High School

Towards Communicative Exchange in Line with a Theme

Tezukayama Gakuin Izumigaoka High School is directing a great deal of energy to education in the area of English studies, international understanding, and other aspects of international communication, as can be appreciated from the fact that the school offers what it calls an International Studies Course. As a result of the 1995 Local Information Exchange Project (LIEP), the school decided to promote international communicative exchange with countries in the Pacific Rim. Prime participants in this project were the students of the International Studies Course and members of the Computer Club. An extension of these activities is the schoolfs Internet Classroom Project (ICP), which is now active in having participants pursue further ongoing communicative exchange with the same Pacific regions. It is hoped that participation in the project will serve to foster the studentsf English abilities and also their understanding of the nature of international society and the information-oriented society.

In 1997, the project was incorporated into the schoolfs English lessons, where the prime object was to exchange e-mails on given themes. The school has what is known as a PCL Classroom, which is equipped with 50 Internet-connected computers, so they did not experience many problems in setting up their computer environment. What was a source of difficulty, however, recalls teacher Mr. Tsuji, was teaching the students basic computer operating procedures.

He explains that it took up a great deal of time simply to teach the students the basic set of procedures essential to using the Internet, such as how to turn the computer on, use the keyboard, operate word-processing software, make e-mail settings, operate the browser, and so forth. It is extremely hard to spare time for all this in the limited classroom time available, he comments.

It was not until he took part in the project activities that he realized how difficult it was to keep e-mail-based communicative exchange going. Their failure, he says, to perform any kind of gmatchingh meant that some students would not keep up their exchange activities, or would lose interest halfway through. They would get up to all kinds of things that members of the Computer Club did not, such as sending e-mail messages to each other during lessons, going here and there to view home pages, printing out reams of material from home pages they took a fancy to, and things like that.

There are, of course, some positive aspects, he stresses. For example, when students in Japanese language classes were given group-study assignments, some of them came up with the idea of doing the necessary surveys via the Internet rather than going to the school library to do them. The Internet, he says, brings out the true individual identity and genuine instincts of the children, allowing them to be more assertive than otherwise. This in turn makes for easier surveys, and fosters the ability of the students to state their own opinions.

Towards Mutual Understanding and Debate

In 1998, the ICP set out to create a gMultimedia Bulletin Board.h The technical aspects of the endeavor are mainly handled by the members of the schoolfs Computer Club. The various sections like gGuess What,h gDiary,h gVideo Mail,h gWorld News,h and the like are supervised and run by the various participating schools. In all cases, however, they strive to create themes that are conducive to fostering mutual understanding. Nonetheless, the students tended to avoid in-depth debates. Mr. Tsuji explains why this was so and how they came to terms with the problem:

gA case point is the eGuess Whatf corner. Our Korean correspondents are familiar with things Japanese because they are not geographically distant, and also because they belong to roughly the same culture. Australian and Hawaiian correspondents also know about Japan because they have Japanese language classes. So, when you call on them with the question eDo you know what this is?f the discussion comes to an end when they answer eSure I know what it is!f Our Video Mail was also intended to be an interactive forum in which we exchanged e-mails in a bulletin board-type system. Yet, considerable language problems got in the way of smooth interaction. Even if our correspondents wrote to us in Japanese, when it came to replying to contents like eIfm so-and-so years old and have so-and-so many brothers and sisters,f our students found it all a bit boring. But the reverse side of the coin is that our correspondents are bound to feel just the same about the superficial content of debates carried out in our poor English. To minimize the language difficulties, we introduced some translation software to deal with the Korean language and also a small dictionary for English.h

Forum Where Multiple Talents Can Shine

Mr. Tsuji says that although they have had their fair share of problems, what with the students finding all kinds of bizarre uses for the Internet and all that, he nonetheless does not regret having been in on ICP. This is because the project has enabled him to become aware of skills and abilities in the students that he had never noticed before.

He points to the amazing diversity of studentsf abilities that the project has revealed: gThere were students with capabilities other than those related to proficiency in English?poor at English, but good at making announcements, or a dab hand at operating a computer, drawing pictures on graphics software to illustrate home pages, and so on. Introducing the Internet provided a stage on which these diverse talents could shine.h

They have also built up a considerable stockpile of know-how relating to communicative exchange activities.

It is essential, for example, to be aware of onefs partnerfs technological background when communicating with schools overseas. When accessing from outside the school, line capacity overload can lead to problems like delays in read-out and input. This is especially the case during after-school hours and Saturday afternoons, when the Computer Club uses the line. To get over this problem, they tried to reduce the volume of photographs and moving graphics in their contents. They also realized that sometimes, Real Video and such could not be viewed on Macintosh versions.

They also became aware that different participating countries displayed different levels of enthusiasm in their approach. Schools overseas tend to prefer going through a matching process to conduct e-mail exchanges on a one-to-one basis, whereas ICP is a theme-oriented project. Mr. Tsuji explains that they experienced difficulties in getting foreign schools to understand this point. Another problem is that different countries have differing school terms, which means that students move up or away. This, he says, makes it essential for the various teachers involved on both sides to maintain contact with each other if they are going to keep the exchange going by providing opportunities for the students to talk face to face and so on.

From Lessons That gCramh to Lessons That Stimulate

Mr. Tsuji expresses the desire to keep this project going after April as a forum to display the diverse abilities of the students. He speaks of his ambition in the following terms:

gThe central involvement of the students is essential to fueling the project and keeping it going. It wonft be a project in the true sense of the word unless the students are at its core. This is why it is vital to provide the children with an opportunity to acquire the debating skills that they currently lack. If the students are going to maintain their interest in the project and keep it going, it is also essential that they regularly have the opportunity to see the faces of their counterparts in an interactive setting. For this reason, we need to think more about initiatives such as the application of television conferencing systems and the like. The degree to which a project like this is usefully applied, varies depending on the way each school conducts its lessons, making it difficult to keep the project going in the long term. In order to ensure that the project does not run out of steam halfway, I believe that you have to bring some ingenuity to bear by incorporating events or whatever.h

This project has been responsible for gradually changing the way the students view the school. When students on the International Studies Course were asked their opinion, the majority replied that their impression of the school before the introduction of the Internet was one of gcramming English into their students.h However, after the use of the Internet had been introduced into lessons, the school would seem to have begun to enjoy greater popularity, with an increasing number of students voicing the opinion that school is gfun,h gstimulating,h and gthe right choice.h

(The information for this article was kindly provided by Yoichi Tsuji, teacher at Tezukayama Gakuin Izumigaoka Junior/Senior High School)


14. How to Successfully Achieve gStaying Powerh
Acid Rain Survey Project Proves an Effective Way of Stimulating Studentsf Enthusiasm and Interest

Attached Fukuyama Junior and Senior High School, Hiroshima University

Towards a Project Primarily Concerned with the Promotion of Environmental Education

This project got off the ground in 1995 as part of the 100-School Networking Project. It was at this time that Fukuyama Junior and Senior High School formed an administrative center and began inviting participants, largely from schools participating in the 100-School Networking Project. As far as the implementation of the project was concerned, Professor Nakane of the Department of General Science at Hiroshima University, who is conducting research into the degeneration of forests and woodlands, kindly afforded total support, offering, among other acts of kindness, to provide at his own expense a grain go randh for the collection of rainwater and a pH meter, on the grounds that it was essential to ensure standardized measurements. In FY 1995, there were 40 schools participating in the project, which rose to 47 by FY 1997. These schools secured the backing of the Mitsubishi Research Institute in completing a home page, to which they transmitted their measurement data. These data had been accumulated in the form of a database, which they hoped would be used to advantage in the lessons of the various schools.

The project had two objectives, says teacher Mr. Nagasawa. The first of these was to throw light on the various problems involved in incorporating a wide-area into school education. It was to act as an experiment as to the best way of going about environmental education using the new medium of wide-area networks. Participation in the project represented a means of building up experience in using the Internet so as to explore methods of assigning a place to the Internet in school education activities. In other words, he explains, they were exploring the various possibilities of Internet use.

The second of the objectives described by Mr. Nagasawa was to introduce modern-day methods in the form of the Internet with a view to lending greater eagerness to the studentsf learning activities and thereby enhancing the benefits of environmental education. The projectfs principal concern, therefore, was the promotion of environmental education. He describes how, in a stage covering three years, they sounded out the participating schools in the form of questionnaires and so on. According to his analysis of the responses received, many tended to regard the project in terms of an experiment to explore the potential of the use of the Internet in education. Yet, given the increasing likelihood that greater priority will be given to environmental education in the form of new curriculum initiatives like gcomprehensive learning,h he voices his preference for a more forthright approach to the second of these perspectives.

In describing the process leading up to their application of the Internet, Mr. Nagasawa says that they applied to join the 100-School Networking Project with the Acid Rain Survey Project in the belief that the measurement of acid rain was the easiest theme to handle, given Hiroshima Universityfs engagement in environmental education, and that it was also likely to arouse the studentfs interest. Ensuring the continuity of the project when conducted on a single-school basis, he said, would be difficult because of the summer holidays and the obvious fact that it does not rain every day. They therefore believed that it would make for better environmental education if they brought to bear the data of multiple schools in the lessons.

Instilling a Spirit of Initiative in the Students

The Internet is a treasure house of information if ever there was one. Mr. Nagasawa stresses that the projectfs achievements deserve to be assessed highly, in that the observation data coming in from the near on 50 schools in every locality nationwide have enabled them to gain a more accurate picture of the actual status of acid rain. It has moreover led to the successful accomplishment of joint learning on a nationwide basis. Despite the familiarity of acid rain as a phenomenon, he says, the cause-and-effect relationship involved is extremely difficult to ascertain. Nonetheless, the ability to compare and verify data for the entire country has brought forth a budding enthusiasm among the students to find some way of getting to the bottom of the problem. For each conceivable cause of acid rain, whether automobile exhaust gasses, the smoke from factories, or whatever, the students form groups to get at the truth of the matter. Mr. Nagasawa says that a spirit of positive initiative has been fostered among them to do whatever they can to get one step nearer to the cause of the problem. At the same time, bringing their own data before the public on the Internet has given them the encouragement and motivation that comes from knowing that students in schools around the whole country will look at the fruits of their research. Since the students use e-mail to examine the results of their data analyses and exchange opinions among themselves, they have come to enjoy an increasing feeling of unity and shared purpose. Mr. Nagasawa analyses the achievement thus:

gNo one is exempt from the need to consider environmental issues. This project has succeeded in engendering in the students the awareness that all must join hands in taking action to come to terms with environmental issues.h

Unresolved Problems Remain

The project has now been in action for about four years and has revealed a number of problems that need to be resolved. One of these is the question of how best to apply the abundant data in school lessons. In the early days of the project, the data sent in from the various schools were not subject to any processing at all before being displayed, which meant that the schools using this data had to use their own initiative in adapting it to the contents of their lessons. Some must, Mr. Nagasawa had imagined, have succeeded in processing the data in their own original way, say by putting it in graph format, to use it freely in their lessons. Yet, it gradually became evident that an increasing number of schools did not find it feasible to take such initiatives, as a result of which they simply did not even try to use it in their lessons at all. It also became evident that schools were experiencing difficulty in maintaining their observation setup in the long term, which revealed how difficult it is to maintain continuity. A major obstacle here is that school activities move in cycles of yearly units, with supervising teachers being transferred and eager students moving away after graduation. With regards to the first of these problems, explains Mr. Nagasawa, the CEC and Mitsubishi Research Institute developed some automatic graph-formatting software so that the user only had to select the required data to have it put into graph format. This software is now in use in schools, and has gone some way in resolving the problem. With regards to the second problem, Mr. Nagasawa believes that greater resourcefulness must somehow be brought to bear in the way the project is promoted.

The longer acid rain is measured and observed, the more effective will be the data. Also, effective application of the data will of course bring greater meaning and benefit to the lessons. For this reason, Mr. Nagasawa intends to keep the practical activities going even after the project itself has come to an end. He believes that despite some unresolved problems, the project has shown itself viable to some extent in terms of finance and the way it is administered. He has a high opinion of what the project has achieved: gThe CEC has set up a coordinating interface to provide consultation facilities, and they have issued us with a splendid report. All in all, it has proved a revolutionary initiative.h Nonetheless, he adds, continuity is what counts when it comes to the observation and measurement of acid rain. Nothing could be truer than that staying power brings its own rewards. As for the kind of practical research that needs to be done after the project to see this ambition realized, only repeated and redoubled effort will ensure success, he reflects in a serious vein.

Better-equipped Information Environment Also Needed

For this reason, Mr. Nagasawa also expresses the desire to see more teachers have their own computers. When wishing to send e-mail to a teacher at another school participating in the project, many teachers have to use a school computer, because they do not have a machine of their own. However, he complains, in this way, you donft have constant access to check your mail, which means that he reconfirms the particulars of his e-mail communication by also sending the details by snail-mail. The schoolsf communicative exchange activities would be enhanced, he feels, if they had an environment in which each member of the teaching staff had at least one computer for their own personal use. In conclusion, he stresses that a better-equipped information environment needs to be provided for the fostering of young men and women with greater sensitivity and interpretive insight.

(The information for this article was kindly provided by Takeshi Nagasawa, teacher at the Attached Fukuyama Junior and Senior High School, Hiroshima University)


15. Creating Japanese Versions of gNetiquetteh
Teaching Materials with the Help of Volunteers
Young Leaves Project

Togane Girlsf High School

Considering gNetiquetteh in Using Networks

Kunio Takahashi, one of the teachers at Togane Girlsf High School, has taken initiative in the field of studentfs education to see if he can tackle an issue that still remains inadequately discussed even among adults. This issue is that of how students can acquire basic manners in a networking environment, and whether they should suddenly be let loose in the networking environment the moment they have the facilities to access it. Mr. Takahashi has been involving volunteers and other ordinary people outside of school in an effort to come to terms with this difficult issue. The first step in this endeavor came on July 4, 1995 with the launch of the project to produce a Japanese version of The Nine Planets (A Multimedia Tour of the Solar System by Bill Arnett).

He recalls that he came across The Nine Planets in the United States when browsing the network shortly after the 100-School Networking Project had bought a network connection to the school back in May of 1995. He finds the work a fascinating guide to the solar system. When he considered that the contents of this work were available to young children in the United States, he felt compelled to attempt to make it available to Japanese students too.

Mr. Takahashi lost no time in calling for volunteer translators over the Internet. Responses came from all over the country, from as far north as Aomori and as far south as Okinawa. Thirty volunteers included university professors, professional translators, and ordinary businesspersons and the like with a passion for astronomy were recruited. As a result, they managed to translate the entire 90 pages or so in four months.

Mr. Takahashi comments that inviting people over the network to offer their services for the good of society does bring a response. The Nine Planets gave him the valuable experience of realizing that people are willing to help in this way and of seeing the meaning of his work recognized by so many people.

In the meantime, he became aware that when students are allowed to use the Internet, it is essential that they be taught the special manners and etiquette of networking. In those days, there existed no clearly documented materials on the subject of networking etiquette in Japan. He began to search for data that would show him how to set about the task of teaching networking etiquttes to the students. His search led him to the discovery that there were gNetiquette Guidesh in the United States, whereupon he set about forming a translation project. The project to make a Japanese version of gThe Net: User Guidelines and Netiquette (Arlene Rinaldi, Florida Atlantic University)h under the Japanese title of gFAU Guide & Netiquetteh got off the ground on November 1 of the same year. In the course of the translation work, Mr. Takahashi learned that a publication called Netiquette Guidelines had been brought out in the United States. He lost no time in contacting the author to secure the permission needed to bring out a Japanese version of the work.

Netiquette Guidelines was brought out in February 1996. The response it aroused exceeded all expectations. In a single day, the site was accessed 1,300 times. This meant that, with the schoolfs limited line capacity, the students could not use the line. As a result, a Netiquette Guidelines service was also transferred to the 100-School Networking Projectfs server. Incidentally, Netiquette Guidelines is still accessed 1,000 times in a single day. Despite the enormous significance of Netiquette Guidelines, Mr. Takahashi began to wonder if it is justifiable to import American guidelines to Japan and apply them to this country in an unmodified format.

Although the contents of the guidelines can be applied in Japanese society adequately enough, it is odd, he explains, that they are being used just as they are without any debate taking place on the subject in Japan itself. He believed that it was essential to secure due consensus in this regard, while seeing it as equally important to ensure the kind of flexible approach that would allow the particulars of the guidelines to be updated in accordance with the times. In the belief that it was time to gain a consensus for the creation of guidelines for use in school education, he set about making his views known on the network. This was the beginning of the Young Leaves Project. During the summer vacation, Mr. Takahashi joined forces with other teachers who agreed with this idea. They set up a preparatory committee to review the planning of the project. By September 10, 1996, they were ready to send out messages calling for action. They proceeded to contact people on education-related mailing lists, as well as members of the general public, calling on them to take part in the project.

Harmful Information and the Studentsf Right to Access

Mr. Takahashi currently uses the Internet in his third-year, second-term lessons in Information Processing. In the first of these lessons, he includes the theme of gnetiquetteh in teaching how to use network software and communication manners. Once students have completed orienteering, they get down to specific hands-on activity, through which they learn how to handle networking and the concepts involved. One case that illustrates this is that of a student who entered personal details such as his name, e-mail address, etc. on the home page of a university student offering gfortune telling by nameh services. A few days later, the student received an e-mail message. It turned out that what was ostensibly a page dealing in the divination of names was in fact tied up with a gfriends wantedh page. Mr. Takahashi says that he makes a point of taking each of these particular incidents and using them as teaching materials in his lessons. If we teach network manners from an early age to high school students, who are after all still innocent and ingenuous, then, when these students have grown up into the network users of the future, we can expect to see a network society in which proper networking manners are the order of the day. What is more, once students have thoroughly mastered networking manners, they can then go on to access information in the home too, which will enable them to work from home. And this, he stresses, is something that the students themselves are well aware of.

It goes without saying that neither Netiquette nor the Young Leaves Project was accomplished overnight. In realizing the projects, Mr. Takahashi was particularly anxious to bring in members of the general public not normally involved in school education. This was especially the case with the Young Leaves Project, whose aim for consensus within the field of education makes it all the more important that discussions are carried out with the benefit of insights from outside. Participation has been encouraged by calling on people from diverse backgrounds after referring to mailing lists and news groups of individuals not directly involved in education. After all, this is a field that benefits from a vigorous process of interactive thought. This has allowed debates to be carried out on the basis of a broader perspective. For example, whereas teachers tend to assert the view that students should not be allowed access to harmful information, participants from the general public who are more knowledgeable of human rights issues will voice the opinion that the studentsf right to know is not best served by submitting them to blanket restrictions. Making this process publicly available on the network, says Mr. Takahashi, has been very worthwhile.

Mr. Takahashi has also taken the initiative in taking steps to ensure that the Internet can be used in the field of education without anxiety. These steps have included the creation of a special search engine for the use of schools, called gSchool Search,h in addition to the implementation of research studies and educational activities to elucidate the gdarkerh side of the Internet, such as information ethics, security, etc. However, there was a major problem in promoting the 100-School Networking Project, in common with other schools, which was the question of administrative setup.

At Togane Girlsf High School, until they managed to achieve a three-man setup to supervise their computer program, a single member of staff had to do everything from subject guidance to server management and contents production, which involved, among other work, the job of compiling database-format teaching materials. On top of this, says Mr. Takahashi, the early model of server frequently broke down, causing a great deal of trouble and worry. He stresses the importance in future policies of human resources capable of managing a network in a school administrative context.

gNetworking environments are also continually evolving at a tremendous pace. We are going to have to think quickly and flexibily if we hope to keep up with these changes. Ours is a project that can make a contribution to society, so it is important that we secure the participation of as many people as possible in the days ahead. Ifm training people to keep the project going in the future, and gradually entrusting these people with the work involved,h he explains.

Indeed, Mr. Takahashi has advanced the project in a spirit of unity and freedom, all the while attaching importance to the independent initiatives of the students and participants. His achievement lies in having successfully laid the foundations on which to build the all-important infrastructure that will guide and support the use of the Internet in education. It will not be long before the students who have learned networking etiquette take the stage and show themselves in action as fully-fledged network users. We eagerly look forward to that day.

(The information for this article was kindly provided by Kunio Takahashi, teacher at Togane Girlsf High School)


16. Asian Friends on the Other Side of the Screen

Seiryo Commercial High School, Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture

Japanese High School Studentsf Creative Power Starts with Knowledge of Asia

Seiryo Commercial High Schoolfs Mr. Makoto Kageto speaks in the following terms of the strong motivating force that drove him to select his schoolfs theme for the 100-School Networking Project:

gFor all Japanfs material affluence, students are becoming increasingly introverted and neurotically preoccupied with trying to avoid becoming unpopular with other students. I want to see them set themselves free from the confines of such an attitude, and develop within themselves the kind of creative power with which they can take on the future. Thatfs why I got the idea that what they need is a fresh perspective from which to take a good look at themselves. Where better to find this perspective than in a foreign culture with all its different values?h

Back in 1992, the new subject of International Communications Course was introduced into the curriculum at Seiryo Commercial High School. Since then, Mr. Kageto has been responsible for implementing a variety of international interactive communication programs, in which students can further their interactivities directly overseas and in other ways. He has also arranged lessons to be taught by former students who have returned from studying overseas. Back in 1992 and 1993, he had only one DOS/V machine on which to carry out the follow-up for such projects. He used this as the terminal for operations for transmitting e-mails overseas.

gYet,h he continues, gthere is a limit to the number of students that can go overseas in person. Communication tends to break down after a while, because it takes as much as two weeks to get a response when exchanging letters and videos. What I was after was the kind of environment that would give the students the feeling that there was a foreign country right behind the screen. This ambition coincided with our being chosen to take part in the 100-School Networking Project in 1994, which allowed us to start using a devoted line. It was the answer to my prayers?a blessing perfectly timed.h

In the early days, their network environment consisted of a 64 Kbps dedicated leased line feeding a server linked up to two terminals. With this, the Seiryo Commercial High School home page was up and working by May of 1995. In those days, only three high schools in the entire country had succeeded in setting up home pages. From these beginnings, their international communicative exchange project via the Internet began to get underway in earnest. Back in the early days, their main interactive communication partner was the United States. Yet, while regarding communicative exchange with Western nations as vital, Mr. Kageto was nonetheless becoming increasingly conscious of the importance for present -day Japanese students for interactive exchange with Asia.

He explains his reasons for this:

gThe people of Asia have richly expressive features, vibrant dynamism, and a telling presence. Their expression is the same as I saw on the faces of the Japanese that lined the roads to wave flags at the time of the Tokyo Olympics. Asia is also geographically closer to Japan, and we have close historical ties. We also have English in common as our second language, so I also see the use of basic English as a suitable tool in communicating with each other.h

As early as 1996, Seiryo Commercial High School played the chief coordinating role in the launch of a startlingly innovative international communicative exchange project known as the Asia-High School Student Internet Interactive Communication Project (CEC joint utilization project). At first, communication took the form of e-mail and mailing-list based exchange, but Seiryo Commercial High Schoolfs networking environment gradually began to take shape, so much so that by 1998, they had got as far as conducting two-way interactive conferences using a 128 Kbps optical fiber-linked CU-SeeMe. Participating nations and cities have grown to include the ROK, Taiwan, Thailand, Manila, Nepal, and Hawaii, among others. Activities are often also presented at international conferences, and some of these have gone on to develop into projects that have won a great deal of attention both at home and abroad, including Western nations.

What Mr. Kageto sees as one of the most important functions of the project is to set themes that focus on familiar everyday issues, most notably problems affecting the environment. They have also implemented some joint lessons. One interesting example of this has been gVirtual Tradeh, an attempt to simulate commodity transactions, which was carried out together with a commercial high school in the ROK.

Mr. Kageto expresses the need to make international interaction an ongoing form of routine everyday communication if it is not to come to an end with a single special event. He explains that he has taught the students to be as natural and relaxed in their e-mail exchanges as possible, while at the same time always being sure to get a reply off?no matter how short?as soon as possible after receiving a message.

Teachers and Students Share Savory Pot-boiled Rice with Asian Friends at Online Interactive Camp

gJapanese students always somehow feel that it is more trendy or impressive to be corresponding with Western countries. The students at Seiryo Commercial High School were no exception in the early days. Yet, a change gradually became evident in their outlook as communications with their Asian counterparts progressed.h

As he looks back to those days with these comments, Mr. Kageto has at hand some written impressions left by the students, which bear out the gradual maturing process he has described. Each of the studentsf comments bears ample witness to the fun, motivation, and eagerness they had experienced in their exchange activities. Expressions like gIt was my ambition to get to know some foreign language. Ifm really grateful that my friends taught me Korean. Now, I want to get to know Korean culture as well...h leap off every page. An gOutlook Surveyh carried out by Mr. Kageto in October of 1998 shows that their level of fondness for their counterpart nations after interacting with them was much higher than it had been before they started the exchange project. At the same time, it also shows that the students themselves felt that their own skills had improved immensely after taking part in the exchange, including their ability to write essays, their home page production skills, their ability to use programs, and their proficiency in English conversation and English writing.

gThe very fact that someone takes the trouble to teach them Korean or to reply to their mail makes the students fond of the country of the correspondent. Whenever they see stories of civil war and economic depression on the news they worry about their correspondents just as they would about a neighbor, with comments like gI hope *** is all right.h Their exchange activities with Nepal have shown them that, despite the economic poverty of the country, the people are happy and rich at heart. This has caused them to look at themselves and Japan in a fresh light. This will surely become the source of dynamism that will fuel the students in days to come.h

Through its networking activities, the Asia-High School Student Internet Interactive Communication Project has reaped great rewards. Backing its successful unfolding has been the extraordinary efforts of Mr. Kageto, who sets great store in the importance of human relations. His thoughtful attention to detail is also evident in the way he sets about selecting the schoolfs exchange correspondents. In order to find out which school will fit the bill, he will visit newspaper companies and tell them about the project, and once the newspaper has introduced him to a school, he will visit the school to look at it himself. Moreover, he has willingly offered cooperation and assistance at every opportunity: he has used up his school holidays to look over English textbooks or check the networking environment; he has offered his know-how to back the provision and servicing of the networking environment; and has provided ungrudging help whenever it is called for. Also, when it comes to the staging of joint lessons, he has taken steps to achieve adequate communication by, among other initiatives, holding international staff meetings with his teaching counterparts at the overseas schools. He has also created opportunities for Online Interactive Camps so that the students can interact at a more direct level and strengthen their ties. In just one such camp held at Tanabe City, Kyoto, 52 people participated from the five nations of Japan, USA (Hawaii), Thailand, Korea, and Taiwan. The students were together for two nights and three days, during which their joint home page production activities brought them to an even closer understanding of one another.

gOne of the aspects of the project that led to such successful results has been that we have not been subjected to too many restrictions, but have been allowed the freedom to take our own initiatives. The support setup was also excellent, because it allowed us to enjoy the back-up of a help-desk and everything,h comments Mr. Kageto, who was one of those responsible for coordinating the 100-School Networking Project. Nonetheless, he also pointed to one aspect of the project that he believes needs to be remedied in the future?gthe excessive burden that falls on the teaching staff, who end up having barely any time to themselves.h He explains that to administer Internet lessons in Hawaii, they have a three-man setup consisting of the teacher responsible for the subject, who has the back-up of a full-time member of staff responsible for network management and networking instruction, in addition to someone who acts as contents advisors and so forth. He cautions that what is vital in such a project are the attitude and enthusiasm of the teachers themselves towards education. He follows this up by saying, gWe are now entering an age in which we will share our resources internationally, which means that, if we want to train the kind of human resources that can perpetuate the work we have started, then we are going to have to think in terms of using networks to foster and expand networks.h

Mr. Kagetofs concluding remarks bear witness to his burning enthusiasm to see the project continue from strength to strength:

gI want to see us use the 100-School Networking Project as a spring board for the consolidation of all that we have achieved so far. At the same time, Ifd like to see us achieve a more closely-knit form of interactive communication by using communications satellites and other advanced technology in the days to come.h

(The information for this article was kindly provided by Makoto Kageto, teacher at Seiryo Commercial High School, Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture)


17. High School Students Learning Technology Look to Technological Interactive Exchange by Sharing Ideas via

International Exchange with Fun, Suspense and Excitement

Komatsu Technical High School, Ishikawa Prefecture

Exchanging Information to Let Each Other Know What We Are Doing

The students on Komatsu Technical High Schoolfs electronic information course are pursuing studies related to computers, electronic circuits, and other Information Technology-related areas. The project these students have undertaken involves exchanging information among themselves so as to let each other know what kind of things they are studying. Their teacher Mr. Hiraki hoped that these e-mail exchanges would act as a stimulus to help them to an awareness of how the level of their studies stood in terms of the rest of the world. This idea prompted him to join the 100-School Networking Project with a group of 34 third-year students under the project title of International Technological Interaction.

In real terms, this project got underway in the autumn of 1988. To find partners in the exchange, they took advantage of a gCorrespondents Wantedh database known as ePALS Classroom Exchange. They carried out a search on this database in an attempt to find suitable partner schools of about the same age as themselves, using search headings like gtechnology,h gcomputer,h and gprogramming.h The search turned up more than 30 schools, to each of which they sent an e-mail outlining their project. Some eight of these schools showed an interest in their project, although ultimately only three of these stayed. They decided to correspond with these three schools, in addition to a school in the State of Colorado that Mr. Hiraki had visited on a study tour to the United States the previous year. The four schools that they finally settled on as their partners for interactive exchange were as follows:

  • Easton Area High School (USA)
  • Downsview Secondary School (Canada)
  • Mt Maunganui College (New Zealand)
  • Rocky Mountain High School (USA)

Prank Mail

The principal medium in which the exchange was conducted was e-mail in English. Mr. Hiraki had the students observe the following procedures in drafting the English contents of their e-mail. First, the students would write what they wanted to say in Japanese. They would then rewrite this content in the kind of Japanese that could be more easily converted into English. They then used gEnglish-composition-supporth software to help them put their Japanese into English. The e-mail which the students sent and the e-mail that they received in reply are featured on the Komatsu Technical High Schoolfs home page, where we can appreciate how splendidly the students succeeded in composing English. This bears witness to the success of the instruction method that Mr. Hiraki chose to use.

It was arranged that the actual process of interactive exchange would involve pairing up students at Komatsu Technical High School with counterparts in the partner school, and then having them introduce themselves to each other. This was to be followed by the students introducing and describing to each other the studies they were engaged in. It was also decided to make the entire exchange available on a mailing list.

The students at Komatsu launched the exchange by sending self-introductory e-mails to Easton Area High School in the Pennsylvania USA. However, no sooner had the exchange started that there were signs of trouble. In late October, there arrived a prank e-mail message bearing the words, gI will kill you. You will die.h It goes without saying that this came as a great shock to Mr. Hiraki and his students, while it also caused great consternation among the teachers at Easton Area High School, who e-mailed their apologies to Komatsu. As Easton had not given its students individual e-mailing accounts, there were 20 or so students sharing around 10 e-mail accounts for their exchange. It became clear that the student responsible for sending the prank mail was not a member of the club, but had got to know of the exchange and used one of the shared accounts from somewhere inside the school without permission. The exchange was temporarily suspended, only to be revived by Mr. Hirakifs reply, which expressed the desire that, rather than clamping down to prevent trouble, they should go ahead positively while seeking to find ways of dealing with any problems that might occur along the way. Nonetheless, two days later, Komatsu received another prank e-mail message. It so dampened the enthusiasm of the teachers on both sides that it was decided that the exchange should be stopped for the time being.

Exciting Exchange Has Continued

At around this time, the students had started to exchange e-mails with the students of Downsview Secondary School in Canada, so the Komatsu students turned their energies in this direction. This time, although there were no prank messages, there was still a surprise in store for Mr. Hiraki. This came in the form of a message from a female student of Vietnamese origin, who sent the following e-mail message to one of the boys at Komatsu Technical High:

gIfm writing this to you, because I canft tell any of my classmates about it. You see, I donft trust any of them...h

We must remember that the studentsf exchanges were put on the mailing list in their entirety, which meant that her classmates would all get to see what she had written. In his concern for her, Mr. Hiraki lost no time in asking her the nature of her problem in order to try to help. However, she showed no signs of agitation and wrote back that it was no big deal and that she was all right.

In this way, an exciting exchange had unfolded, allowing them to feel for all the world as if they were taking a peep at the very fabric of international society. In early December, they heard from Easton again, who offered to revive their earlier exchange activities. In response, the Komatsu students sent Easton some e-mail messages at the beginning of the new year, and are now waiting to see what kind of answers they would get.

Ambitions of Technological Interactive Exchange for Joint Programming Activities with Their Counterparts

The initial goal of the project was to follow up self-introductions and descriptions of the teaching materials they were using with interactive exchange on the subject of the kind of specialist topics that deal with the technology the students are studying in school. So far, however, they have not been able to get as far as technological particulars in their exchange activities. The students on the program at Komatsu Technical High School are, after all, in their third year, and will therefore be hard pressed to achieve this ambition, with graduation around the corner.

In this regard, Mr. Hiraki makes the following comments:

gAt the planning stage, we intended to schedule a time in which to concentrate on our e-mail exchange activities, and to try and find a flexible framework that suited all of us so that we could interact simultaneously with a number of schools. Our aim was to have students coming together on the mailing list from various schools and engage in a dynamic fray of interaction. When we actually got down to it, however, coordinating the schedule was easier said than done. After all, each of the schools has its own different form of curriculum. We had to find the odd free moments the curriculum and lesson times permitted to carry out e-mail exchanges. All in all, it just did not go as we had planned.h

The exchange activities are still in their first year, however, so they have the next year and the year after next to gradually build up a more complete program. Mr. Hirakifs ambition is to achieve the kind of technological interactive interchange that will embrace joint operations with their correspondent schools. gWe are currently working with the concept of VRML (Virtual Reality Modeling Language), which will allow multiple images of three-dimensional people to enter a three-dimensional image setting to take part simultaneously in interactive chat. This will enable students, whether from Japan, the United States, Canada, or wherever, to enter the virtual space and converse with one another,h he says. He adds that he hopes that they will be able to get together to perform joint programming activities to put together the Java language program that will bring an extra touch of reality to the project. This Java programming will allow them to incorporate a variety of special touches, including adding movement to the people in the virtual space.

I would like to present here just a few of the comments from this yearfs participating students. Here is what they have to say about their experiences on the project so far:

gE-mail exchange was tough, but great fun.h

gAlthough I have been learning English since I was in junior high, I never actually thought that Ifd have the chance to use it. Participating in this exchange has shown me that the English Ifve learned so far has been very worthwhile, and absolutely not time wasted. Ifd like to go on to study and develop better conversation skills.h

gI want to carry on with e-mail exchange activities with people overseas after I have graduated. My ambition is to go to Europe some day and get a job that will let me take advantage of my computer technology skills.h

(The information for this article was kindly provided by Sotoji Hiraki, teacher at Komatsu Technical High School)


18. Science Experimentation & Observation Database
Moving on from Experimental Use of the Internet to the Practical Stage

Okayama Hosen Senior High School, Okayama Prefecture

Diverse Administrative Backup Allows Students to Progress to Experimentation with Practical Internet Applications

Okayama Hosen High School has been participating in the 100-School Networking Project since 1996, during which time its activities have notably included its Science Experimentation & Observation Database project. In line with Okayama Prefecturefs Information Highway Plan, all the prefecturally administered schools have been linked up with a 128 Kbps dedicated line as of 1998. What with this and other initiatives including the introduction of 22 laptop computers for students, which were financed by the prefectural board of education in May 1998, the school is equipped with an abundant environment in which to take on the practical challenges of computing and the Internet.

In the context just described, the school has pursued activities on the following themes:

  • Further developments to the Science Experimentation & Observation Database
  • The introduction of lessons incorporating computer applications
  • The introduction of Internet usage in communicative interaction with the locality

Taking on the Challenges of Science Experimentation & Observation Database

Hitherto, the most common way for teachers to present their students with practical examples of experimentation and observation, which are extremely central to science education, was to obtain them in commercially available books, or occasionally by the kind of information exchange activities that take place at local study group organizations and the like. The gradual spread of the Internet has led to teachers in various regions becoming active in presenting examples of experimentation and observation on their own home pages. However, these home pages are difficult to search out on existing search engines and other software designed for this purpose. As a result, you cannot always make your way to the kind of information you are after.

Given this state of affairs, the Science Experimentation & Observation Database was planned with the aim of putting together a database with links to these experimentation and observation examples which were dotted about here and there on the Internet. It was hoped that, by giving users an easy method of finding the information they are in search of, it would make for the kind of exchange that is conducive to better science education, as well as being useful in promoting safer and more effective scientific experimentation and observation in schools.

Although steps were taken to enhance the search functions and other features of the database during 1997, we hear that 1998 saw very little activity with regards to the maintenance of the database. The principal reasons for this include the following:

  • The teacher in charge, Mr. Tanimoto was too busy with his regular duties
  • Present-day database compilation methods are extremely time consuming
  • The database ended up becoming difficult to maintain

As a result, there often occurred ginvalid linksh (i.e. links that failed to take the searcher to the destination page). At present, Mr. Tanimoto is leading a team of volunteers in using search engines and similar means to find suitable home pages, which they are registering on the database after securing the permission of the various authors. Nonetheless, Mr. Tanimoto says that this involves an enormous amount of time and trouble for one reason or another?suitable destination pages are hard to come across, the authorsf intent is difficult to grasp, and so on. He adds that he feels it is necessary to bring such means to bear as using a search robot (a system that uses a computer to search for information on the Internet automatically), working in large numbers to conduct systematic searches, or some other more effective method. It is clear, he says, that it is impractical to hope for any real success with the present method whereby an individual has to make the time to conduct these searches.

According to Mr. Tanimoto, in the last fiscal year, they had an SE personnel member assigned to the school from CEC, who added to the database a search function that uses `perl` (a frequently used programming language for home page control). Although this improvement has allowed them to successfully accomplish their initial objective of equipping their page with a search feature, this has in turn made maintenance all the more difficult. Until that point, Mr. Tanimoto had produced the home page himself, and therefore understood the structure and other features of the page. Once, however, they had consigned the page production to an outside operator, it became all the more difficult as Mr.Tanimoto could no longer grasp the configuration of the page. For example, when he tried to fix invalid links, he had no idea of which file to repair or where it might be located. Initially, he say, he did not know what kind of maintenance was necessary, so he could hardly ask anyone to do something for him that he himself was not aware needed doing. If he had had someone to whom he could have entrusted this work in the early days, he believes that this would also have made the job of maintenance easier. However, it is not until you actually start running various systems that you become aware of various new ideas and snags. It is therefore extremely difficult to put a complete system together from scratch.

Events took a different turn in 1998, when Mr. Tanimoto recruited volunteers from among his friends and associates in and around Okayama Prefecture to compile independent data by themselves rather than by searching for information on the Internet and registering finds on a database. gWhen explaining to students the points needing attention in the course of an experiment, those at the back of the classroom cannot actually see the actual apparatus you want to draw their attention to,h he says. gThis is why I set out to see if I could take some relevant photographs and put them in database format. My idea was to print the photographic images on Overhead Projector (OHP) sheets, which would enable schools to show these with an OHP, as most schools are quipped with OHPs. We are now in the process of producing these, with the help of professor Onishi of Okayama University of Science. It is also, you see, a good way of forging communicative links with the local community.h

Participating in the 100-School Networking Project

Here Mr. Tanimoto gives his frank impressions about the schoolfs involvement in the 100-School project.

gI believe that it has been extremely worthwhile in many different senses, because it has been a new experience for both students and teachers. The PC operating system that was introduced into the computer classroom was Windows NT. This is because it became clear that giving the students free access to PCs in the 100-School Networking Project led to untoward results with Windows 95, since those with a little knowledge could change the settings off their own bat and things like that. The knowledge of potential problems and the know-how that we have succeeded in building up will, I believe, be of great benefit to the future progress of Okayama Prefecturefs Information Highway Plan.h

On the other hand, Mr. Tanimoto also points to some problems that schools setting out to use computers in earnest are likely to face. These include, for example, the question of who is going to administer and manage the server. He explains that school finances are limited and that it is difficult to have the work done by an outside contractor. Even if you do ask an outside concern to do the work, you could find that your own job of maintaining the system has become more difficult than ever before. Yet, given the workload of other teachers, itfs also difficult to ask them to volunteer help, because this involves a lot of work. This is one problematic area that Mr. Tanimoto feels the 100-School Networking Project is going to have to overcome.

(The information for this article was kindly provided by Yasumasa Tanimoto, teacher at Okayama Hosen Senior High School)


19. Acting as the Hub of a Local Network for Widespread
Use of the Internet and Local Development

Hitarinko High School, Oita Prefecture

Step One ? To Create a Network Near the Home

We can now make a telephone call to anywhere on the globe, while television allows us to see something on the other side of the world the moment it happens. The Internet is no exception. Home pages enable us to view vast quantities of information without having to move an inch. The Internet also allows us to exchange e-mail with people in far-flung places, while, provided the necessary equipment is at hand, we can also use television conferencing systems to hold simultaneous two-way exchanges.

However, the development of such means of communication brings with it the risk that we may lose sight of our own locality. We can use networks to find out about what is happening in the various distant regions of the world, we could nonetheless find ourselves unable to find information about the locality we live in, no matter how much we search. In just such a context, local volunteers, PTA groups, and other local people have come together in an attempt to bring networking to bear in vitalizing their locality. We are also seeing the emergence of support and administrative aid for local educational networks.

Just one such region is to be found centering on the city of Hita in the western part of Oita Prefecture. As was often the case in a large number of local cities at the time the 100-School Networking Project was initiated, Hita City had barely any access points to the Internet, while there was only a tiny handful of Internet users accessing the Internet from access points in major cities. Given such scarcity of Internet provisions, users of the Internet in the Hita locality got together with aspiring users in April of 1996 to form what they called the gForum for Internet Use in Hita,h where they discussed the issue if Internet usage in the locality. Hitarinko High School was already participating in the 100-School Networking Project and it was decided that it would be a good idea to join the local forum as a way of spurring more widespread Internet use in the Hita region.

At the forum, Hitarinko High School promised support to the locality by making available school facilities for use on an observational basis, by providing instructors and study opportunities, and by furnishing users in the Hita locality with mailing lists. As a result of this initiative, the Hitarinko High School mailing lists became the principal medium for a lively exchange of opinions and views on the subject of local networking. The upshot of this activity was the establishment in June of 1997 of the Hita Internet Society. The aim of this society was to engage in activities to promote and study the Internet, as well as practically applying the Internet, so as to strengthen the ties of friendship among the members of the society and improve their Internet skills. The society is playing a great part not only in promoting the widespread use of the Internet in the region, but also in building up a network of human resources and community contacts within the locality.

Mr. Miyazaki of the Hita Internet Society comments that local communicative interaction was pretty sparse before the moves to introduce the Internet. For example, he points to forestry and tourism, which are mainstay industries in the Hita area. These two industries, he explains, had little to do with one another until the Internet was introduced. Thanks to the Internet, the two sides finally started coming together in a more active process of communication. The best way to shape a local network, he contends, undoubtedly lies in discussing the matter at every level of the local community, so as to incorporate the views of every sector, whether of administrative bodies, trade and industry, or education. He believes that positive effort should be devoted to creating and maintaining such forums for discussion, for it is vital to the development of local networks, he stresses, that ties of local interactive communication be strengthened at a person-to-person level and that barriers be broken down.

Acting as the Hub of the Local network

Besides the Hita Internet Societyfs mailing list, the mailing lists provided by Hitarinko High School also make available a mailing list of parties involved in education in Oita Prefecture. Members on the list currently amount to more than 50 individuals, who are actively engaged in exchanging information inside the prefecture. Here, views and comments are also exchanged on the subject of the creation of educational networks inside the prefecture.

Although Oita Prefecture is currently poised to go ahead with the creation of educational networks under the aegis of education centers, opinions have been voiced that it would be preferable to use private-sector providers in the amplification of local networks, while education centers should be devoted to fulfilling the role of database providers. Such views indicate the seriousness of the discussions that are taking place on the ideal future of educational networks, where the greatest concern expressed has been that if education centers are entrusted with the control of educational networks, education will become a closed self-preoccupied compartment, effectively preventing the benefits of tightly knit interaction with the local community.

On its home page, Hitarinko High School also takes advantage of the fact that it is a vocationally related school to provide answers on specialist subjects in what it calls its Small Question Corner. Questions mainly come from elementary schools, with many questions relating to the natural environment, in view of the schoolfs department of forestry. Small Question Corner has led to interactive learning via e-mail exchanges with an elementary school in Kita-Kyushu. The exchange has not stopped at e-mails, but has extended to offline interaction in the form of a visit by pupils and teachers of the elementary school to a tree-planting festival staged in Hita.

In addition to these activities, the school is also strengthening collaborative ties among the cityfs elementary, junior high, and senior high schools by offering an elementary school home page course, among other initiatives. In this way, Hitarinko High School is extending the use to which it puts the Internet, to serve not simply its own in-school interests but also to provide benefits to the outside community.

Mr. Akashi of the Hita Internet Society makes the following observations:

gHita City has no institutions of learning higher other than the high school?no university and no research institutes. It is thus a significant step that a vocational high school is forging closer links with the local community through the local industry and to act as the prime moving force of local networking. The setting up of mailing lists on Hitarinkofs server has imparted a social mission and a sense of urgency. Everything that has been achieved from the very outset is gradually seen not as something imparted by the network but as something that belongs to the entire community. It has inspired them with the motivation and enthusiasm to grow and work together for even greater rewards. It is because Hitarinko High School is the central driving force that the city has been able to stage seminars jointly with the prefecture. I want to see Hitarinko High School taking the central initiative in days to come so as to be the prime forum for ideas on the development of the local network.h

And After the 100-School Networking Project...

Mr. Sakai, who is the head teacher at the school, reflects on future difficulties in the following terms:

gThe prefecture sees difficulties in taking over and perpetuating a research project like the 100-School Networking Project in its present format once it has come to an end. The School Education Section of the Board of Education is currently working with education centers to examine how best to deal with the networks in Oita Prefecture. In order that everything that Hitarinko High School has achieved so far will not go to waste, we intend that the school continues with its Internet connection as it sees fit until the prefecture makes provisions for Internet connection. Nonetheless, the problem will still remain as to how Hitarinko High School will maintain the mailing list services it has been providing so far.h

Mr. Sakaifs comments reveal the difficulty of their dilemma, for while they fully appreciate the importance of the local network, they are going to have to decide how to back the local network in the context of a school setup.

All elementary, junior high and senior high schools are due to be linked to the Internet by the year 2001. As one of the forerunning Internet schools, Hitarinko High School is bound to show new aspects and potential of local networking through its continued positive initiatives to play a central role not only in the field of education but also as the hub of extensive local networking. We eagerly look forward to seeing them fulfilling this important role.

(The information for this article was kindly provided by Akira Sakai and Fumiaki Kawazu, teachers at Hitarinko High School, and Hideto Miyazaki and Kenji Akashi of the Hita Internet Society)


20. New Classes with Themes and Ideas
The Internet ? A Precious Window on the World for the Handicapped
Helping the Handicapped Find Increased Opportunities to Express Themselves and Join in the Community

Koumei School for the Physically Handicapped, Tokyo /
Soyokaze Branch of Koumei School for the Physically Handicapped, Tokyo

Students More Interested in Expressing Themselves than in Browsing the Web

The inability of children with handicaps to get out and about easily tends to mean that they have few opportunities to communicate and interact with society. For this reason, Koumei School for the Physically Handicapped began making positive use of PC communications from an early date, for the principal benefit of students with physical disabilities in their high school years. According to Mr. Kanamori, one of the teachers at the school, recruitment for the 100-School Networking Project came just at the right time for the school. Although they had gained a fair level of achievement with their PC communications, they happened to be looking at the time for some other slightly different channel for their communications activities.

gBack then,h he says, gwe really had little idea of what the Internet was about, so we started out with some nebulous expectations that we might be able to view information on the Web. However, when we actually became capable of using the Internet and took a look at what it had to offer, the students didnft show much interest.h

This could have been because there were no good sites in those days. Mr. Kanamori then realized that they could show the world the childrenfs artistic and literary creations on a home page. The idea intrigued him so much that he called on the students with the suggestion that they take on the challenge of creating something.

He recalls what happened:

gOne of the students produced a maze on the PC. It was such a brilliant piece of work that no one could have imagined that it had been created by an amateur. We lost no time in featuring the creation on our home page, and it got a great response.h (The student in question graduated in 1996. The work is featured on Koumei School for the Physically Handicappedfs home page:

The students were more interested in expressing themselves than in looking at the Web to gather information. Another student brought out a novel. A mobility disability prevented him from writing by hand, so an input device was prepared so that all he needed to use to type was to operate a single button. His works were also dramatized at the schoolfs Culture Festival, and we hear that, after graduation, he has gone on to bring out a series of works. (His works can be seen on the following page:

Overall, more students produce pictures than any other forms of expression. Mr. Kanamori says that a designer who had seen the works drawn by the students had even visited Koumei School for the Physically Handicapped to persuade the school to let him use the childrenfs works.

In this way, the Internet came to open up a big window on the world for the students, who had until then found it very difficult to communicate with society. It now meant that the children could express themselves to the wide world outside and to get a very real reaction to what they sought to convey. The Internet-based activities to help the students express themselves had initially begun with the students in the high-school section, but these activities gradually extended to cover the junior high school students and the elementary school children.

Television Conferencing System Brings Lessons to Homes

It was far from easy, however, to bring such activities of self-expression within the reach of children with mental handicaps. It was then that Mr. Kanamori moved to take advantage of another feature of the Internet. He explains his idea and how it came about:

gSome children have the kind of major disabilities that prevent them from coming in to school very often. What I started to do was to go to their homes and see if we could use a television conferencing system to have them take part in lessons. An ordinary household telephone line is too slow for high-speed communications, so what I did was to take along a laptop computer with a gPersonal Handy Phoneh type mobile phone so that they could communicate with the school.h

Listening to the comments of the handicapped children themselves brings home to me just how much we should give these children priority in furnishing a PC and Internet environment. This is because such equipment can bring a very marked improvement to the way they express themselves and to the level of communication that they enjoy with the community. Those suffering from visual disabilities or from impaired hearing are apparently totally unable to communicate face to face. Yet, via a PC and the Internet, they can find spiritual communion with each other, whether in the same room or a million miles apart from each other. Mr. Kanamorifs colleague in the project is Mr. Honda. The significance of Mr. Hondafs comments struck me as particularly profound:

gCommunication on the Internet is said to be of a gvirtualh communication. We hope that the children will use this means of communication and succeed in coming to interact with flesh-and-blood people. Yet, there are people who find it difficult to communicate and commune with people in the flesh. The Internet may be gvirtualh for those who enjoy perfect health, but for the kind of people Ifm talking about, the PC and the Internet are a precious means of contact with others.h

The Internet for Children Undergoing Long-term Hospitalization...

The Soyokaze Branch is a gclassroomh belonging to Koumei School for the Physically Handicapped. Yet, this classroom is located in a national pediatric hospital. In an effort not to get behind with their school studies, the hospitalized children in the Soyokaze Branch pursue their studies cheerfully with the help of more than 10 teachers. During the 1997 academic year, there were a total of 82 children and students enrolled in the gclassroomh, ranging from elementary school children to senior high school students. Yet, the members are always changing, as those who have completed their treatment are discharged.

Ms. Kakuta, who came here after teaching regular elementary school for five years, explains:

gThe children who come here are suffering from serious illnesses. They are wonderful children and are very thoughtful and considerate because they have been forced to think about life and its challenges despite their tender years.h

Although she has had some experience of PC before the start of the 100-School Networking Project, this was mostly at the word-processing level. Yet, on the strength of this meager experience, she took on the challenge of the project, as none of the other staff knew much about PCs and the Internet. In the early days, she remembers, it was an uphill struggle against innumerable difficulties.

She also describes the Internet as a precious window to the outside world for the children in the Soyokaze Branch:

gThe children who were well enough to get home for the odd night could manage somehow, but for those children whose regime of treatment forced them to be confined like sardines for months on end, the Internet was absolutely indispensable.h

The children use the Internet as a replacement for a library. The Soyokaze Branch library only has a tiny selection of books, so the Internet has become an absolute necessity for investigative learning. A lot of the children have also presented their artistic creations on the home page. As you might expect from creations that have won prizes in School Page Contests, the page features a number of works that are shining examples of tremendous artistic talent. ( Besides pictures, poems, and other creations, the page also presents reports on interviews with the hospital doctors, and many other fascinating features to keep visitors to the page engrossed.

The page also has fans, who e-mail their impressions every time a new work is posted. The children send off replies to the mail they receive, which must be an unforgettable experience for them in their enforced hospital surroundings.

Looking Forward to Internet Lines in Wards

Nor must we forget about the children who are unable to leave their hospital beds. The teachers visit the beds of these children to give them individual lessons in person, but these children do not have access to the Internet. Although you might have thought it possible to take a laptop computer and a mobile phone to their bedsides, this is out of the question, because mobile and cellular phones cannot be used on the hospital premises on the grounds that they interfere with the medical equipment. Ms. Kakuta eagerly hopes that one day Internet lines will be laid inside the hospital.

The Internet is also acting as a valuable information tool for the teachers of the Soyokaze Branch, whose role here is to supervise the hospitalized childrenfs studies so that they will fit back smoothly into the ordinary lessons once they have returned to their old schools. For this reason, the teachers must remain in constant touch with the teachers of the childrenfs schools. These teachers, however, are so busy that they cannot easily be reached by telephone. E-mails, says Ms. Kakuta, make for easy but thorough liaison with regular schoolteachers, providing of course they have access to the Internet.

(The information for this article was kindly provided by Katsuhiro Kanamori and Masashi Honda, teachers at Koumei School for the Physically Handicapped, Tokyo, and Kumiko Kakuta, teacher at Soyokaze Branch of Koumei School for the Physically Handicapped, Tokyo)


21. NetDay and Table-leg Cap

The Tohoku Internet Association (TiA)

What NetDay is

The word NetDay originated in the United States, but is used with a variety of meanings in Japan.

Instances of what the Japanese call NetDay include the kind of school event in which several Internet-linked computers are brought into the school for the students to use, or a project in which computers are set up in a corner of a shopping mall to allow shoppers free access to the Internet.

However, the original meaning of NetDay signifies a project in which a school builds up an Internet environment with the help of volunteers. Japanfs very first instance of NetDay in this sense took place at Katsurao Junior High School, which is located in a village in the central area of Fukushima Prefecturefs Abukuma Plateau. Katsurao Junior High School is a small school surrounded by mountainous countryside. In those days, it had only 82 students and a teaching staff of 12.

After successfully being selected as a member of the 100-School Networking Project, Katsurao Junior High saw the introduction of a line and equipment for its Internet connection in June of 1995. The equipment furnished on that occasion, however, consisted merely of a single server and a single client machine. In the early days, the school used the Web simply for the search and use of information. In time, however, the demands of the students and teachers gradually grew so large that advantage was taken of volunteers to help build up a networking environment in the school to meet the increasing needs of students and staff.

Mr. Masakuni Watabe (currently at the Fukushima Prefectural Board of Education), who was a teacher of science at the school in those days, remembers:

gGetting an outside operator to install the network inside the school would have involved a great deal of expense. Installation carried out in stages on the basis of an annual plan would have been a feasible option, although it was out of the question to make budget provisions halfway through the year. These considerations may prevail in the world of us grownups, but we could hardly let them get in the way of the studentsf enthusiasm. What is more, the studentsf study time in school is limited. As luck would have it, a look around the school revealed that piping had been laid inside the firewalls, partition walls, and other spaces when the school was built. This discovery gave us the idea that we could lay the network cable in the school by ourselves, whereupon we duly got the permission of the local board of education to do this. Vital to such an undertaking, however, was the basic technical skills and a knowledge of networks, which none of the teaching staff had. Those who came to our rescue were the people on the local network whom we had got to know via the Internet.

The Katsurao Junior High School System Builders Group

It was in this way that the Katsurao Junior High School System Builders Group first came to be formed. The group first came together in March of the following year (1996), just at the time the cherry blossoms were blooming. After this, volunteers continued to get together once every month to press ahead with building up the schoolfs networking environment. This Katsurao Junior High School System Builders Group was the original model for the Netday activities that eventually spread around the Abukuma Region.

Mr. Takeo Saito of the Tohoku Internet Association was one of the volunteers that gave his support to Mr. Watabe as a specialist engineer. He remembers:

gMr. Watabe knew what he wanted, and that was enough for me to get thinking about what kind of system would be best. And there we had a system for the teachers and children to use. For the engineer, NetDay is all about getting things done yourself. Itfs not just about what you can achieve with your own skills; itfs also about the vision that the schoolfs future lies in the job at hand. The experience brought the kind of delight that doesnft come from work.h

This illustrates how educators and engineers can join forces to bring concrete shape to a schoolfs bid to enter the information society.

Mr. Watabe encountered not only Mr. Saito, but also a host of other volunteers, whose names are too numerous to mention. A mailing list known as gugah came into being as a communication forum for the volunteers who had come together in the System Builders Group. gUgah later developed into the Abukuma Network Study Group for Local Development (also known by the abbreviation gAbunekenh). The messages posted by the members of the gugah mailing list came to an astonishing total of more than 10,000 during the mere two and a half years since the list started.

The activities of the gAbunekenh have been summarized in a report detailing efforts contributing to Local Development in the Form of School Interactive Exchange in the Local Development Project of Phase II of the 100-School Networking Project.

Inspired by the motto gGood things (networks) are for sharing,h the gAbunekenh has so far been responsible for the setting up and Internet connection of networks at four schools in the surrounding area. These are gdo-it-yourselfh networks, which are the fruits of the joint efforts of volunteers, teachers, and parents working towards a shared goal.

Natural Know-how Born of Necessity

The collaborative efforts have produced a great deal of know-how. One instance of this know-how is table-leg capping (the use of a circular cover put on the end of the legs of a low Japanese foot-warming table-like contraption and known in Japanese as gkotatsu-ashi), although this term in itself will mean very little to anyone.

In order to bring into the classrooms the LAN cable that ran above the ceiling in the corridors, it was necessary to make a hole in the ceiling panels. The method of filling this hole in once the cable had been passed through came to be known as table-leg capping. The use of a large drill known as a hole saw left a gaping hole in the ceiling. Aware that the ceiling could not be left in that state, the members were in a quandary until one of them discovered that the kind of table-leg caps sold at DIY stores and the like would fit perfectly into the hole. The hole diameter of 30 mm allowed a table-leg cover of an inner diameter of 28 mm to be slotted neatly into it. All that was needed to make a hole large enough for the cable to pass through was the kind of cork-boring device available in any schoolfs science lab. Matching the color of the caps with the color of the ceiling panels brought a finish to the job that a professional would have been proud of.

The gLine Opening Ceremonyh is an event that serves to strengthen the shared experience of the Netday participants. At the Netday staged at Nakazuma Elementary School, Miharucho in March 1998, was a lesson designed to show how to attach a plug to a cable, whereupon the headmaster of the school enthusiastically took on the job himself. The sight of this inspired the members with the idea of having the headmaster perform this job of putting the plug on the last remaining cable in the wiring work. Hence, a gLine Opening Ceremony.h

The server settings, the wiring work, and everything else had all now been completed. All the participants were gathered in the library, their gaze fixed on the headmaster, who, drenched in perspiration, was attaching the plug to the final remaining cable. The first time had been a failure, so all watched intently with baited breath. The second try succeeded! Nakazuma Elementary Schoolfs in-school network was up, working, and open to traffic amid a roar of jubilant applause.

Yet, once the cable-laying work had been completed, there still remained the task of using the expensive LAN tester that had been supplied to carry out stringent checks on the performance of each of the cables that had been laid. Although simply setting out to save on installation costs, the volunteers had achieved a standard of cable-laying that was as high as, if not higher than, that of a professional cable installer.

Do-it-yourself know-how of this order is spreading around the nation via peoplefs networks.


22. Iowa Project

Yamanashi Prefectural Education Center

Administrative Institutions and Schools Not Picked for the 100-School Networking Project

Responsible for bringing schools around the nation their first ever real taste of the Internet by providing them with an environment for Internet use, the 100-School Networking Project had enormous impact nationwide.

However, schools and administrative bodies unable to participate in the project also set about ways of getting themselves connected to the Internet.

Just one instance of this can be seen in Yamanashi Prefecturefs Iowa Project.

The Iowa Project Gets off the Ground

The name eIowaf comes from the state of the same name in the USA. Yamanashi Prefecture and the State of Iowa enjoy ties as gsister areash under a plan that arranges exchange projects between Japanese prefectures and states in America. Various schools in Iowa and Yamanashi Prefecture had engaged in communicative interaction via the Internet between the years of 1996 and 1998. It was also this Iowa Project that was responsible for prompting the activities of the Yamanashi Prefectural Education Center to promote the Local Development of Education Centers under the Local Development Project of The 100-Schools Networking Project (Phase II). Tatsuyamura Technical High School and the Junior High School Attached to the Faculty of Education of Yamanashi University were the two schools assigned to the 100-School Networking Project in Yamanashi Prefecture. Meanwhile other schools were also becoming increasingly enthusiastic about using the Internet.

The fact is that it was back in 1993 that a movement had got underway in Yamanashi Prefecture to set up a local network. Although requests asking for financial aid to back the introduction of the Internet began coming into the Education Center at that time, the Internet was still an unfamiliar term then, and so the requests were dismissed, being ahead of its time.

A sudden reversal came in 1994, when the prefectural governor paid a visit to the State of Iowa to mark the 35th anniversary of the sister ties linking Yamanashi Prefecture and the State of Iowa. The occasion led to the formation of a plan to carry out communicative interaction at an educational level via the Internet. At the same time, the Education Center was equipped to serve as the network hub, setting the stage for schools participating in the Iowa project to be linked up to the Internet. Since the project had come from the prefectural governor himself, it goes without saying that the budgetary provisions to finance the project proceeded smoothly.

And so it came about in 1996 that, two years after the 100-School Networking Project had begun in earnest, Yamanashi Prefecturefs own initiatives in the form of the Iowa Project allowed five other schools in the prefecture (Koma High School, Kofu First High School, Kofu Technical High School, Isawa Junior High School, and Ryuo Junior High School) to achieve their cherished ambition of being equipped with an Internet environment. Of these five schools, Koma High School and Kofu Technical High School had failed in their bid to be selected for the 100-School Networking Project.

The Spread of the Iowa project

The aim of the Iowa Project is to strengthen interactive ties and activities with schools in the State of Iowa, while at the same time pursuing research and practical initiatives relating to the application of information networking. In this way, it is hoped that the project will serve to enable the prefecture to acquire the know-how to introduce the Internet to all the schools in the prefecture and to expand the uses to which the Internet is put.

Some five schools from the Sate of Iowa likewise participated in the project. Although the exchanges initially involved a great deal of trial and error, as e-mail exchanges among the students progressed, a variety of projects came into being.

The students on the Iowa side came up with the suggestion of a mini-project involving e-mail exchanges on the theme of gIf you lived in Japan, what kind of school would you want to got to?h In order to get material on which to base their decisions, the schools in Iowa each prepared a 10-item questionnaire in Japanese. The various schools on the Yamanashi side sent their answers to these questionnaires in Japanese. The project likewise involved the Yamanashi students in preparing a 10-item questionnaire in English, to which the students in Iowa replied in English. Naturally, the Japanese questionnaires were prepared using the alphabet to represent the Japanese sounds.

Questions and answers went back and forth in a lively exchange, and the questionnaires often contained more than 10 questions. The results of the exchange were used in class debates at the Iowa schools. An interesting episode occurred as a result: during these debates, the students became aware that an all-important question on which to base their decision had been left out of the questionnaire, namely gHas a good relationship been built up between teachers and students?h The additional question was duly issued to gain the needed information.

Under this project, schools were initially provided with a single server and a single client machine, although some schools went on to equip themselves with their own in-school LAN by linking up PCs that had already been installed as well as PCs belonging to the teachers. This had the effect of arousing the interest of teachers who had shown no interest in the Internet until that point. These teachers also allied themselves to the project allowing entire schools to press ahead in a spirit of unity.

One teacher remembers:

gAs I watched the work progress, I became aware that a lot of things were possible, so I could picture what it would be like. We laid the cable as far as the staffroom, which meant that all the teachersf individual PCs could come on line.h

Exchange activities went from strength to strength and included student representatives going to Iowa on home-stay visits. A detailed account of the exchange activities can be found in the final report issued at the end of FY 1998.

Mutual Area Connection Compatibility with K-NIX

Yamanashi Prefectural Education Center had plans to provide Internet access to all the publicly administered schools in the Prefecture via the center itself, in addition to the five schools already connected as a result of participating in the project. In the meantime, the schools in the prefecture had been so eager to use the Internet that an increasing number of them made their own provisions for connections through commercial providers. As a result of local administrative units and individual school units having planned their own networks, there naturally emerged a network in which the communications load was dispersed rather than what would have been the case if all connections had converged on the Education Center.

As a result, Yamanashi Prefecture is responsible for the establishment of a locally compatible connection attachment known as K-NIX in December 1997. This was introduced for the benefit of networks inside the prefecture, including commercial providers and the like.

Until that time, schools accessing the Internet via commercial providers has had to go via mutual connection attachments in Tokyo in order to link up with the Education Center, although it was in the very same prefecture. The setting up of K-NIX meant that it was no longer necessary for schools to use the roundabout Tokyo connection, thus effectively reducing the networking distance linking up the schools within the prefecture. A further benefit was that users were now able to avoid the excessively busy lines to the Tokyo connectors, and thus enjoy more comfortable communications within the prefecture.

This kind of network topology is know as gcluster-typeh networking, as opposed to gsingle-point convergence-typeh networking, in which all connections converge on a single center or whatever. Studies are now going ahead to look into gcluster-typeh networking as one of the ideal potential forms of educational networking in the future.


23. A Slightly Different Reason Prompts Project Entry

Wanouchi-cho Board of Education, Gifu Prefecture

Selection to Project Will Bring Free PC

Located between the mighty courses of the Ibi River and the Nagara River is Wanouchi-cho (Anpachi-gun). In this town of less than 10, 000 inhabitants is Oyabu Elementary School, a tiny school of only 200 children.

All the schools (three elementary schools and one junior high school) in Wanouchi-cho are now linked together in an information education network centering on the local Board of Education. This has enabled the three elementary schools to access the Internet from their classrooms.

The initial impetus for this achievement came in 1994, when Oyabu Elementary School was designated as a participating school in (Group B) of the 100-School Networking Project. Spurred by the pioneering initiatives of the schools participating in the 100-School Networking Project within the area, the school became the first self-administering body nationwide to embark on building up an educational network.

Mr. Iwata (currently Director of Instruction on the Wanouchi-cho Board of Education) was supervising Oyabu Elementaryfs information education activities in those days. He remembers the events leading up to the schoolfs bid to be selected onto the 100-School Networking Project:

gThe fact is that we had no idea about what the Internet was. All we knew was that qualifying schools in those days were presented with two new, state-of-the-art PCs. In short, getting picked meant that we got something for free, and the prize was not to be sneezed at. That was our only reason for entering. And we hit the jackpot!h

This comment he accompanies with a slightly embarrassed laugh.

It is now 10 years since Mr. Iwata first took up his teaching post in Wanouchi-cho. Oyabu Elementary School was the third school he taught at. His first impression of Oyabu Elementary can be summed up in the word gpeaceful.h

This is not to say that there were no children whose behavior presented a problem for Mr. Iwata, who had until then been teaching Japanese language in Junior High schools. He was so busy keeping a watchful eye on the students that he never had time for a quiet drink when he eventually got back home. He was delighted by this first opportunity to settle down and take on a fresh challenge at his new school.

He was put in charge of Oyabu Elementary Schoolfs information education activities. He stayed up late at night in front of the computer, compiling teaching materials on Japanese regional dialects and Japanese respect language. The software he used for this was KIT, a gcourseware creationh software. He finally felt that he had come across a theme he could call his own. It all came about with the greatest of ease, he remembers.

Back in 1994, when the 100-School Networking Project began, Mr. Iwata had been on a study course held by the Faculty of Education at Gifu University. Here, he came across the recruiting particulars of the 100-School Networking Project in the Computer Communications Room. He himself had just taken up PC communications a bare one year earlier. He lost no time in returning to Oyabu Elementary School, where he began consultations with a view to applying as a candidate for the project.

In those days, the sum of Oyabufs computing environment was 40 old machines running on MS-DOS, in addition to a mere four PCs running on Windows 3.1. In view of his ambition to secure at least eight PCs to use Windows 3.1 in school lessons, the offer of two PCs to successful applicants of the 100-School Networking Project was an extremely tempting proposition.

At all events, this was how the school came to apply for participation in the 100-Schools Networking Project.

Towards the Buildup of a Full-scale In-school Network

Once Oyabu Elementary School had succeeded in being accepted as a member of the 100-School Project, the school received delivery of the promised equipment. This consisted of a UNIX Workstation as the server, and a single PC as the client machine, in addition to a modem and a dedicated leased analog line (3.4 kHz).

He was delighted to find that the Workstation happened to be an identical model to the one he had helped set up when on his study trip to Gifu University. The Internet, however, came as a great surprise to Mr. Iwata, for, despite being vaguely familiar with the word, this was the very first time he had actually encountered the Internet.

gI didnft even know where to send an e-mail. All I could manage to do with the Internet was view the Web, and even that was difficult enough. The first site I came across was the NTT home page. Because of the slow analog line, I had to wait around five minutes before the bulky graphics were displayed. It took me all of six months to understand the Internet?how to instruct the other teachers, how to use it in lessons, and all the other ins and outs,h he remembers.

Nonetheless, the successful applications they found for the Internet began to burgeon. One of these successes included joining with the students in looking up data about the destination they had chosen for their school trip. Another fond memory of those early days was running around the various sections of the Prefectural Office to collect data for the purpose of collaborating in the Nationwide Specialty Product MAP, a project organized by Hirano Elementary School (Otsu), one of their fellow members in the 100-School Networking Project.

As the applications they discovered grew, they gradually increased the number of PCs with Internet access from an initial environment of one server and one client, linking them up to a gdo-it-yourselfh network that enabled the use of multiple PCs.

By the time the 100-School Networking Project had come to an end in January of 1997, the school had secured financial backing from Wanouchi-cho so as not only to have transferred to a 64 Kbps dedicated leased line, but also to have installed 11 information outlets around the school to allow Internet access with the simple insertion of a cable plug. With this, they had succeeded in building up a full-scale in-school network.

What the Future Holds for Information Education in Wanouchi-cho

It was thanks to Wanouchi-chofs Information Education network that Oyabu Elementary Schoolfs richly endowed network also spread to all the other schools in the town. As the Director of Instruction at the local board of education, Mr. Iwata is now himself in charge of information education networking. He explains:

gSince the number of students in the town only amount to around 1,000, a single server is enough to cater to all their needs. What we have done, therefore, is to transfer Oyabu Elementary Schools network to the jurisdiction of the local board of education so that the server can serve all four schools. In this way, public administration has assumed prime responsibility for the administration and management of the network.h

Prompted to apply to the project to receive two brand-new PCs, the school then set about an initiative that has mobilized the whole town. Thanks to the schoolfs endeavors, all the schools in the town, both elementary and junior high, are due to be connected to the Internet by the year 2000.

Mr. Iwata comments that the town may be small, but it is remarkably fortunate in only constituting a single junior high school catchment sector.

gA single user registration will last the entire nine years of elementary and junior high school. What is more, information literacy can also be fostered in line with achievement levels. An additional advantage is that the three elementary schools will work in an identical environment at an identical level. I believe that this is about the ideal size for an education network.h

He concludes his comments by describing his ambition for the future:

gWhat Ifd like to see in the future is senior students teaching their juniors?the junior high school students teaching the elementary school children, and graduates and volunteers teaching the junior high school students, rather than leaving all the teaching up to the teaching staff.


24. Training Camps for Teachers and Students

Tokai School-Net Study Group

Aims and Objectives of Joint Training Camps

We almost always see training courses exclusively for teachers or training courses exclusively for students. However, the 22nd Special Meeting held by the Tokai School-Net Study Group in the summer of 1998 was slightly different from the general run of training camps. The activities of the Tokai School-Net Study Group began back in 1994, when the group had gone on to building up a network through bimonthly regular meetings and mailing lists.

The group decided to call the camp in question its `Camp for Teachers and Students`. Participating in the camp were seven high schools and one junior high school from the prefectures of Mie, Wakayama, Nara, Aichi, and Fukui. Members amounted to some 80 individuals including students and supervising teaching staff, students on foreign study programs from Asia, and other adults. The entire party gathered at the Ryuo Outdoor Activities Center in Tanabe.

Ms. Masako Furui, one of the representatives of the Tokai School-Net Study Group and a teacher at the Nakamura High School in Aichi Prefecture, explains:

gOur idea was to see if we could successfully combine into one project the regular meetings of the study group and the high school studentsf camp. There was no need to regard the high school students separately from the grown-ups, because some of them were capable of managing the server. We held an instructions course, in which anyone, even high school students, could opt to participate as long as they had the experience.h

She goes on to describe what they had set out to achieve in planning the camp:

(1) To provide an opportunity to study studentsf Internet usage carried out jointly among schools

(2) To engage in an offline gathering of students in the schools conducting joint Internet activities

(3) To provide the adults in the Tokai School-Net Study Group an opportunity to study.

Inspired by these three aims, the event took on the form of an outdoor training course spanning a generous period of three days and two nights.

What the Training Course Actually Involved ? Mucking it Together with the Students

The Ryuo Outdoor Activities Center comprises five cottage-style bungalows and a two-story Craft Center. While acting as an outdoor activity facility, the Craft Center also houses in a section on the second floor the server for the inter-school network that links 12 municipal elementary and junior high schools in the area. The building is also known as gthe network center surrounded by greenery.h

The students were separated into groups, taking the five bungalows for their overnight lodgings. During the daytime, they joined in Internet study meetings and exchange groups in the Craft Rooms on the first floor of the Craft Center. The schedule included such items as gNetwork Etiquette,h gHow to Compose E-mails Correctly,h and gEssentials for Producing a WWW Page.h

In the meantime, the teachers took part in study meetings on the second floor of the Craft Center. Their study schedule, however, was somewhat more advanced than that of the students, including subjects like gAll You Need to Know about Cables,h and gMethods of Dealing with Trouble Arising on Networks.h Lack of room in the bungalows meant that the grownups had to sleep in the same place as wher they spend the daytime, surrounded on all sides by the server and PCs.

Although the teachers and students pursued their own separate training programs, high school students could join in the server management and JAVA courses if they so wished. Ms. Furui makes it clear that they saw no reason to make a hard-and-fast distinction between grownups and students just for the sake of it.

During the camp, one of the high school students compiled a home page, which featured the following comment:

gI spent the whole of the second day on the second-floor Computer Room, where I learned some very interesting things. A lot of the stuff were difficult, but all of it are useful. I wouldnft have missed the experience for anything.h gIfm typing this on the third day as I listen to a lecture on security. This is pretty difficult, too. According to one of my friends, who is a hacker, Windows NT is a piece of cake, and Ifm beginning to see why. When it comes to servers, UNIX has got to be the best, I suppose.h

These are the kind of comments that could well put a grownup to shame.

The cooking was the domain of the teachers. This was because it would have taken up too much valuable study time if the students had to cook for themselves. The students, however, took care of the serving and the clearing up afterwards, so it was really very much a case of them all gmucking it together.h On the evening of the second day, they all held a Grand Quiz Tournament on a large lawned area outside. Here the students eagerly joined in a fervent battle of wits for a splendid array of prizes which included networking accessories brought by the teacher, special souvenirs from the various home localities, mouse pads, and the like.

The five bungalows were linked up with the Computer Room with an optical fiber cable for high-speed LAN, enabling the occupants of the bungalows to access the Internet at nighttime. The students had each been allotted a laptop computer so that they could get on with their assignments after returning to their lodgings. Such assignments included compiling home pages, sending assignments set by the instructors as e-mailed replies to the campfs mailing list, and other work requiring a computer.

gI donft doubt that some students cut back on sleeping time to have fun playing online games, taking part in chat, and so,h laughs Ms. Furui.

The Students Impressions of the Camp Afterwards

The students found the camp a very refreshing experience.

gWe learned a lot from the teachers, such as enetiquette,f how to put together home pages, Java, and that kind of thing. There were all kinds of fascinating things. The stuff about making a home page was easy, because I already know quite a lot about that. But I only got about half the stuff about enetiquettef and Java.h (Comments of gH,h a junior high school boy)

gAt all events, I managed to put under my belt the absolute essentials of putting a Web page together by myself. Now I want to go on to putting this know-how to good use.h (Comments of gN,h a senior high school boy)

It goes without saying that the camp was a rare experience for the teachers, too. Here is one of their comments.

gItfs not unusual for the teachers to have their separate domain and the students to have theirs, but what was unusual here was that these two separate areas came together to act things out from their own respective viewpoints. Some students on the camp struck me as having a know-all attitude, but then I thought why not challenge this and take it head-on for a more interesting debate.h

When you come to think about it, both teachers and students got off the starting line at pretty much the same time in terms of the Internet, so we could see the students overtaking the teachers in the future. It is quite conceivable that future training courses will provide more advanced contents for the students than the teachers.

Incidentally, the students studied on the first floor, while the teachers engaged in their training on the second floor. Apart from the contents of the courses, there was another big difference. The fact of the matter is that the second floor was air-conditioned to maintain a stable server environment, while there was no air-conditioning in the Craft Room. Of course, that is not why they chose to take part in the adult course.

gIt was sweltering! On the first day of lectures I was absolutely dripping with sweat,h comments a boy student.

Yet, it was such a rewarding three days that the temperature was the last thing on all their minds.


25. Homemade Database of Local Images

Amagasaki Education Center

Homemade Local Graphic Database for Children

gTo tell the truth, there are some pictures I took in there,h confesses Mr. Yoneda with a laugh. Mr. Yoneda is director of instruction at the Amagasaki Education Center. By gin there,h he means the Local Graphic Database for Children featured on the education centerfs home page. All the municipally administered school in the Amagasaki City (74 schools in all) are linked by a school information communications network systems using a CATV line. Used by the children via the Internet, this graphic database houses some 1,000 photographs and descriptions that introduce the visitor to the city of Amagasaki. The database is divided into six categories: gThe Schools,h gThe Region,h gThe Natural Environment,h gThe Scenery,h gThe History,h and gEarthquake Disasters.h There are few municipal bodies around the country that have created such a massive database to introduce their region to the Internet visitor.

As the database contains some old photographs whose copyright holders remain unidentified, downloading and reuse of the images is restricted to schools within the city, although they can be viewed by anyone outside the city, too. Amagasaki Education Center joined the 100-School Networking Project back in 1975, and the Local Graphic Database for Children came into being as a result of studies to examine the education centerfs role as the hub of the inter-school network. This role can be broadly viewed as consisting of three areas: the provision of information for local learning activities, the preparation of curriculums, and the provision of utilization of environments. The Local Graphic Database for Children is seen as fulfilling the role of the first of these, namely the provision of information for local learning activities.

What is more, the center takes pride that the database is homemade.

When the initiative to start building the Local Graphic Database for Children started four years ago, Mr. Yoneda was working at Sonoda-kita Elementary School. Back then, Mr. Yoneda was also in charge of taking photographs of two station-front shopping precincts in the vicinity of the school. The photographs of the environs of Tsukaguchi Station and Sonoda Station (Hankyu line), which appear in gThe Sceneryh section of the database, were taken by Mr. Yoneda on 35 mm single-lens reflex camera.

The members of the research team shared the job of collecting the photographs for the database. The following is an amusing episode that occurred during the course of the work, which all of them remember to this day. Mr. Yoneda recounts the tale:

gOne of the team was taking photographs of the local Police Department buildings. He must have aroused the suspicions of the police, because he was ordered inside the building, where he gave an account of what he was trying to do. Once they understood the circumstances, the police offered their help and even made it possible for us to photograph a member of the mobile traffic police astride his white motorcycle. Under normal circumstances, you cannot get a shot like that. The experience taught us always to get permission before taking a photograph. It became our motto from that day on.h

Incidentally, this photograph of the traffic police officer on his white motorcycle is to be found under the `Police Department` in the `Facilities` section of the database. It is accompanied by a caption that reads gPolice patrolman on white motorcycle. He is a member of the mobile traffic-control squad. These are special police officers that are on the look out for traffic offences. Can you notice the slight difference in their uniforms?h

Tough Demands from Local Teachers

Located in the Hanshin Industrial Zone, Amagasaki City is known nationwide as much for its industrial pollution as its industry. Recent years, however, have seen Amagasaki transform itself into a city set on shedding its industrial image. Born and brought up in Amagasaki, Mr. Yoneda explains:

gThe station-front area is undergoing redevelopment and the like, which has completely changed the face of the area.h Indeed, as you look through the database, you can trace the course of the transformations that have overtaken the city.

Mr. Yoneda and his team were responsible not only for the photography, but also for compiling a gclickable maph of the photographic sites. Mr. Yoneda again:

gWe would have made a better job of it had we been doing it now. Back then, however, we only had the standard Windows 95 accessory gPaintbrush.h This meant that, even when putting the silhouetting on the maps, we had to do shade in each and every detail ourselves.h

The Local Graphic Database for Children is used in the preliminary investigations for childrenfs local observation tours and the like, as well as for lessons in schools. The local teachers using the database have sent in some tall orders that typically run:

gNothing more than a photographic lineup! Please reorganize it to tie it up with the curriculum.h

Mr. Yoneda comments:

gSince we use the same photograph for the `thumbnail gallery` as well as for the normal photographic presentation, the thumbnail gallery is pretty hefty and unwieldy. What we want to do in future is use a three-tier system so that we can split this up and take further necessary photographs in a larger image format. During the FY 1998, they planned to add the history-related photographs and augment the collection to a total of 1,300 photographs.

Incidentally, visitors to the Local Graphic Database for Children will notice that a presentation of the regionfs specialty products is conspicuously absent from the local information.

Mr. Yoneda explains the omission and their plans to remedy it:

gWell, itfs not that there arenft any specialty products. There are, for instance, the manufacture of soy sauce known as Ama-no-Kiage, the Lamp Candy sold around Hanshin Amagasaki Station, and the straw casks for sak_ produced in nearby Itami. Yet, these are all pretty minor items. But, yes, it would be a good idea to add such products to the collection.h

Another Initiative of the Education Center ? Delivered Training Courses

The Amagasaki Education Center has set about yet another unique initiative. This is their Information Education Special Training Program, which they implemented in the FYs of 1997 and 1998, in preparation for the full-scale operation of the intra-school information communications network system that will link all the municipally administered schools in the city. This is also one of the roles assumed by the education center as the hub of the networking hub.

Information education training for schoolteachers is normally carried out by holding meetings at the center itself. However, this Information Education Special Training Program is carried out in the schools themselves by Mr. Yoneda and another four staff members, who make visits to the schools and conduct training on the schoolsf PC equipment.

What is more, the contents of the training do not follow a set course standard, and training is offered in 10 formats, from which the schools are free to choose the course that best suit them. This menu includes such items as gThe essentials of Operating Windows,h gHow to Use Graphics and Illustration Software,h and gHow to Use Presentation Tools for Children.h The training is offered to 45 elementary schools on the basis of two visits per school. As a supplement to the first training session, a talk is added on the subject of gInformation Education in Elementary Schools.h

Mr. Yoneda again comments:

gLearning how to operate a computer at the center may not always be effective because some schools have different models. In this sense, taking the program to the schools allows participants to learn operating skills on the computer they usually use, which is much more effective?so much so that a lot of the schools ask us to come back again and again. We have gone over the scheduled two sessions to give three or even four sessions in more than 10 schools now.h

Mr. Yoneda and his staff serve up the entire 10-subject menu, no matter which of the items are requested. Once they know what a particular school requires, they will prepare the necessary texts and set out for the school. Yet, to ensure that they always arouse the interest and attention of the teachers there, they tune up their ideas and lesson plans with the kind of nervous tension that accompanies every first night on stage.

The solemn designation of the Information Education Special Training Program has quite understandably given way to the more popular designation of the Delivered Training Course.

Indeed, the team brings with it that warmth and familiarity we associate with the homemade.


26. Remote Installation

The Chugoku & Shikoku Internet Association

Experiments Successfully Demonstrate the Effectiveness of Remote Installation and Remote Maintenance

An issue of major importance when installing servers in schools and ensuring the smooth progress of information orientation in schools is the question of who is to maintain the server. The The Chugoku & Shikoku Internet Association is at the center of initiatives known as the NetdeGansu Project, in which they performed the following experiment.

The experiment in question was carried out in January 1999 while a NetdeGansu meeting was held at the Inokuchi Myojin Elementary School (Hiroshima Prefecture), one the schools participating in the project. Approximately 10 staff members were present at the meeting, which continued on from morning through to the evening.

At the same time as the meeting was being held, an experiment was underway in a laboratory at Hiroshima University to send a system remotely via a network and to install it remotely on an identical model of a computer (with identical settings) to the server with which Inokuchi Myojin Elementary School has been provided. A considerable distance separated Inokuchi Myojin Elementary School and Hiroshima University. The participants in the meeting were aware of the experiment taking place, and the experiment had come to an end by the time the meeting had finished without any of the participants having been involved in any of the troublesome details.

For its server, Inokuchi Myojin Elementary School uses a form of PC-UNIX known as FreeBSD, which is linked on the NetdeGansu project to an Internet provider via a 128 Kbps dedicated leased line. Hiroshima University is incidentally linked to the same provider via a 1.5 Mbps dedicated leased line.

The experiment involved logging on to the server provided to Inokuchi Myojin Elementary School from the laboratory in Hiroshima University, backing up the contents of its hard disk to a PC in the laboratory, and then once again returning the backup to Inokuchi Myojin Elementary Schoolfs server. Although the process involved some operations to compress files, the two basic UNIX commands used in the experiment were gdumph and grestore.h

The gdumph command is used to perform backup of the hard disk etcetera. This command does not simply copy the files on the hard disk, but makes an exact reproduction of every system detail, including all the file system information. The grestoreh command restores the files backed up by using the gdumph command.

It first took one hour and 40 minutes to execute the gdumph procedure, and then a further two hours to execute the grestoreh procedure. These were the results of the experiment.

If the backup data from a normally functioning server could be kept in readiness in the laboratory, it would be possible to log onto the server in a distant school, using the grestoreh command to effect a transfer. This would enable the remote server to function in the same way as a normally functioning donor server. What is more, operating personnel would only be needed in the laboratory in Hiroshima University. No one would need to be present to carry out any operations on the Inokuchi Myojin Elementary School-based server.

Mr. Reiji Aihara, assistant professor at Hiroshima Universityfs Information Processing Center and, as a member of the CSI Administrative Committee, responsible for instructing the students in the experiment, comments:

gUpgrading is an essential part of server management. Yet, it involves a great deal of trouble if you have to make a visit all the way to each individual school to carry out the upgrading procedure. With this method, the server manager doesnft need to set a foot outside of Hiroshima University to carry out a complete upgrading of the school server. What is more, the teachers at the school donft need to know a thing about it. It is also possible to perform a complete system installation. As you can appreciate, it takes the hard work out of server management.h

gA network can be likened to a highway, and PCs to automobiles. With no road, not a car can run, not even the most superlative of performers. These aspects need to be thought of as two separate parts of the equation. Conversely, installing a reliable OS on even an oldish or rare model of PC should get you by well enough.h

There is no easily understandable PC-UNIX manual to introduce beginners to server management. Not only this, but different messages will appear, depending on the version of the operating system in question. For this reason, it is an awkward job, which most tend to shy away from. However, it is not widely recognized that this is a stable performer and that this kind of management can be easily performed via a remote procedure.

Server management via network is expected to become an essential element in future computing. What this experiment has demonstrated is that what goes to making this possible are, in the words of Mr. Aihara, ga reliably operating server and a stable network environment.h

The NetdeGansu project has so far provided eight elementary, junior high and senior high schools with a network-linked environment. Although each of these schools are equipped with the same FreeBSD server as Inokuchi Myojin Elementary School, the system installation in each case was taken on by the teachers of the various schools, who were given a CD-ROM and expected to make the best job out of what they could.

Although there is a manual available showing how to proceed with the installation process with the help of photographs of the display, it often takes three to four tries before eventually managing somehow to get the system up and working with some semblance of success. The teachers who took on the challenge sum the experience up in the word ggrueling.h It is, all concur, not so much that one particular aspect of the procedure was grueling as that the whole thing was grueling from beginning to end.

When these teachers, who had been put to the trying experience of trying to install FreeBSD heard of the remote installation experiment, they simply groaned in unison:

gWhy didnft we have that in the beginning!?h

At which, Mr. Aihara grins:

gWith this development, we can now have an objective comparison with other operating systems.h

The NetdeGansu Project

Incidentally, the NetdeGansu project started out as an old project in a new guise. It had formerly been school@csi (Chugoku & Shikoku Internet Education Utilization Study Group), which had started with the backing of the CSI to provide support to the schools participating in the 100-School Networking Project.

Mr. Aihara explains the aims of the project:

gWhat the activities of school@csi had taught us was that it was essential for all of us to meet up together, rather than work separately. The kind of situation where one or two individuals each put in effort at remote points of the same prefecture has no combined effect. Not until we have around 10 to 20 working on it per prefecture or city do we begin to enjoy the benefits. This is why 10 or so schools in the Hiroshima sector connected up in a concerted effort to launch a project designed to examine, among other things, practical studies into educational utilization and the ideal form of support from external organizations. The telling feature of linking up schools into a network is that this network be more than a sum of its parts. The essential spirit of his message is summed up in this phrase:

gWhat we have to avoid is creating boring networks.h