Diversification of Learning and its Issues


Positioning Online Classes

“The future of education” is one of the discussions that has gained attention even during the pandemic. The US government has allocated $122 billion as education support funds over three years under the “American Rescue Plan,” with a significant portion of that funding being used to promote individual online tutoring.

Classes are conducted through displays, utilizing not only face-to-face teaching by instructors but also live videos, chat services, AI, and more. The course content often centers around assignments.

Online classes have presented a significant business opportunity in the field of educational technology. According to market research by VC firm Reach Capital, specializing in education, investment in educational businesses has surged from $1.7 billion in 2019 to $3.2 billion in the first half of 2021.

So, does this mean that all classes should be conducted online and that traditional school education is no longer necessary? Many concerns arise when such questions are posed. Particularly, the impact of learning social skills and aspects other than knowledge through real-life interactions is substantial.

Jacqueline, a primary school principal, states, “After missing months of in-person learning opportunities, many of the school’s children are struggling with their motor skills. Among young students, some even have trouble writing letters to people from a communication skills perspective – they are struggling to build their social skills.”

An interview in the article includes the following sentence:

“Even though we access technology, we still put pencil to paper and crayon to paper.”

No matter how advanced online technology becomes, we still cannot do without paper, pencils, and crayons.

Back to School, but Still Learning Online (The New York Times)


Face-to-Face Experience During Student Years

We are approaching the end of January for the third time since the expansion of the pandemic. The concept of face-to-face classes has become a distant memory amid the third year of “remote” living. Due to the Omicron variant, my university, where I am studying abroad, has been forced to continue online classes. The abrupt notice of offering in-person classes from spring has been incredibly harsh for many international students who moved to the city. For me, who was looking forward to studying with fellow international students on campus during the spring, my motivation has been significantly diminished.

While the efficiency of “online” has been extensively discussed over the past two years, the usefulness of face-to-face interactions cannot be denied. This is especially true for students, as the opportunity to learn practical skills such as project management and effective communication is reduced.

The main advantages of face-to-face communication include not only motivational impact but also its usefulness in persuading others. Additionally, it allows us to receive a wider range of information beyond just language-based cues, enhancing our understanding of others and facilitating stronger connections. Considering these points, experiencing in-person classes as a student is indeed valuable.

The debate about “online vs. in-person” education continues incessantly. While it will take time, the world is beginning to move toward the end of the pandemic. However, we who have experienced the convenience of “online” are unlikely to return entirely to the way things were. In this context, the challenge lies in how to harness the benefits of both approaches.

5 Benefits of Face-to-Face Communication (Value Prop)


During the pandemic, “MOOCs” (Massive Open Online Courses) have garnered significant attention. The concept behind MOOCs is to provide high-quality education accessible to everyone for free. Platforms like Coursera and edX offer around 19,400 courses in partnership with approximately 950 universities, attracting about 100 million new users in the past two years alone.

Although MOOCs gained prominence in the early 2010s, their recent growth, with about 100 million new users in the past two years, is remarkable. This has undoubtedly widened the scope of learning opportunities.

However, what’s concerning is the effectiveness of MOOCs in facilitating deep learning (completion/retention rates) and their impact on career development. A survey of around 4,000 individuals who completed business-related courses revealed that about 75% reported a positive impact on their careers. Nevertheless, this seemingly majority view might actually be a minority opinion, given that around 90% of users abandon the service in their first year (2015-2016).

Indeed, the lower the barrier to start learning, the weaker the resistance to giving up along the way. This aligns with intuition. For instance, I am notorious for my lack of willpower and have zero confidence in completing a course that no one is forcing me to finish.

Considering this, the future development of MOOCs might hinge more on creating mechanisms that encourage habit formation rather than the breadth and quality of content.

The MOOC pivot (Science)

The Positive Cycle of Education Generated by Subcultures

“Subcultures,” which developed in post-war Japan, include examples such as anime, manga, movies, and dramas, although drawing clear lines has become difficult due to the widespread use of the internet. These subcultures have had a significant impact on our lives. A famous example is the manga “Captain Tsubasa,” which began serialization in Shonen Jump in 1981 and contributed to an increase in soccer players.

Today, due to the development of platforms such as Netflix, YouTube, and Spotify, significant changes are occurring in language learning. According to a report by the University Council of Modern Languages in the UK, covering 2012-2018 language learning statistics (course numbers, applicants, acceptances), while French, German, and Spanish are declining in popularity, Korean and Japanese have seen a substantial increase. Korean has seen a 3.5-fold increase, while Japanese has grown by approximately 1.7 times.

This trend can be attributed to the rise of the entertainment industries in South Korea and the popularity of Japanese anime and J-POP. While motivations for learning Asian languages used to be largely for “improving job prospects,” they are shifting toward “I study because I love the language and culture.”

In response to this trend, opportunities for learning these languages at universities in the UK are also changing. The percentage of universities offering Japanese language courses increased from 19% in 2018 to 39% in 2020-21. While the increase is marginal, there is also a slight uptick in the availability of Korean language courses.

Thus, subcultures are not only widening the gateway to learning but also influencing the increase in educational opportunities. Such a positive feedback loop blending culture and education could drastically transform the perception of education.

Interest in anime and K-pop drive boom in Korean and Japanese degrees (The Guardian)