How Study Sapuri helped support educators and students shift to an online learning environment
Study Sapuri is an online learning service offered by Recruit Group that provides over 40,000 video lectures filmed by highly skilled instructors for elementary, middle, and high school students, as well as those preparing for university entrance exams. The platform is also used by schools (primarily high schools), and has been introduced to 2,000 of the approximately 5,000 schools across Japan. As of December 31, 2020, the platform has a total of 1.57 million members.
Making the move to Study Sapuri in response to COVID-19
In March 2020, the Japanese government declared a state of emergency in response to COVID-19 global health crisis. Educational institutions across the country shut down their schools. Many teachers, such as those in Aichi Prefecture, went on and voluntarily filmed and edited online learning videos to help their students keep up with their school's curriculum. But online teaching proved to be more difficult than expected; teachers couldn't monitor their students' reactions to a lesson or directly answer questions from the recorded lessons. Exhausted from filming lessons on top of other duties, many teachers in Aichi Prefecture wondered if the materials from their lessons were getting across to students. Similarly, high school students grew concerned about how the school closures would impact their studies and preparations for university entrance exams.
In June 2020, Aichi Prefecture decided to provide Study Sapuri services for all of its 183 Aichi prefectural high schools, distributing Study Sapuri accounts for 122,179 students. While students and parents expressed delight in the decision and took to social media to share their excitement to have access to Study Sapuri's video lectures, many teachers were overwhelmed by the idea of incorporating a private service into their curriculum. Aichi Prefecture was also initially the slowest to adopt Information and Communication Technology (ICT) educational practices. Only a few schools had briefly introduced Study Sapuri in previous years and many teachers were unfamiliar with the platform or how to leverage the service.
Using Study Sapuri to solve problems in online classrooms
Kentaro Kimura and Kazumasa Kawase, who lead the Study Sapuri sales team, helped address these concerns to ensure that Aichi Prefecture high schools were able to smoothly incorporate Study Sapuri into their curriculums.
According to Kazumasa, after the decision was made to implement Study Sapuri, the most difficult step was promoting its use to schools unfamiliar with ICT.
"Many teachers were stressed to suddenly have to use a service they were unfamiliar with," said Kazumasa. "Similarly, every school has its own unique situations and standards; specialized high schools have different curriculums from those of public schools. Not all teachers have used ICT or fully understand it, so we can't expect them to use ICT the same way. There is no single way to use Study Sapuri, so we approached each school individually and proposed customized ways to use the service to solve their problems. Our sales staff team borrowed a room at these high schools and spent a whole day providing technical and usage support to help teachers learn how to fully leverage the service. We also listened to the teachers' questions, concerns, and requests regarding the use of ICT."
As a result of these efforts, some teachers became able to leverage ICT proficiently, and students began to use ICT effectively under the guidance of their teachers. For example, teachers could refer to different videos and assignments on Study Sapuri for students to review depending on their level of study. By tailoring the learning content to each student's learning level, learning became fun for students who initially didn't know how to effectively use Study Sapuri.
"I was able to make up for the time I missed due to the school closures by reviewing videos that matched my level of understanding," one student remarked. "I can also watch the videos as many times as I want just by pressing the play button for the parts I didn't really understand."
At the same time, teachers, who used to be busy making and grading homework handouts, can now spend more time interacting with students and monitoring their academic performance.
Study Sapuri was introduced to help students learn—but it's also changing the way teachers work. The Study Sapuri sales staff promotes sharing usage tips and tricks among teachers on the platform. As a result, teachers who were initially reluctant to use ICT gradually have begun to better understand it.
"My perception of ICT has changed so much since we began using Study Sapuri," said one teacher. "I used to think that my job would be taken away by ICT, but now I see that Study Sapuri is making teaching easier. I have learned that if I leverage it as a supplementary teaching aid, I can get back more time to support my students."
"I have been a teacher for 16 years, and to a certain extent, I was used to doing my work like I had always been doing it," said another teacher. "But now I realize that there is more I can do to make time to address my students and improve their basic academic skills."
For teachers, we offer administrative pages to monitor the progress of each student
Developing an inclusive platform by incorporating user feedback
Study Sapuri's motto is to respond quickly to the needs of users as its services continue to develop. In this initiative, Study Sapuri's sales staff discovered the need to support a wide variety of teachers, parents, and students. As the service grows, more resources are becoming available for students attending special needs schools and students who do not understand Japanese, such as the addition of a contact function and Japanese language lessons.
"By promoting the use of our service, we can quickly gather feedback from the users to create a grounded hypothesis that leads to product development and better services," said Kazumasa. "Our goal is to continue to evolve the product and make Study Sapuri a popular educational infrastructure, and, in the future, make Japan the country with the highest quality of education in the world."
Recognizing the trust placed by users in the quality of the service and the learning benefits of Study Sapuri, Aichi Prefecture is continuing to use the service in prefecture high schools for the 2021 school year.
"I feel like we're making the future of the world a little better, even if it's a small contribution," said Kentaro. "I think it will become more and more important for teachers to make good use of ICT and use the time that it creates to truly address children and solve their problems."
Study Sapuri will continue to support the "desire to learn" of many people in order to realize the goal of "delivering the best learning to the ends of the world."
*Quipper,Study Sapuri's sister company that offers similar services, is available in Indonesia and the Philippines.
Links(Available in Japanese only)
General Manager, Support Promotion Department 2, Manabi Education Support Division, Division Management Office, Recruit Co., Ltd.
Born in Aichi Prefecture, Kentaro joined Recruit Co., Ltd. in 2002. After working as a sales representative for Keiko to Manabu, in product planning and sales planning for From A and Town Work, and as a sales planning manager for Zexy, he joined Study Sapuri in 2014. He is the head of Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka.
Manager, Tokyo Metropolitan Area Group 2, Support Promotion Department 1, Manabi Education Support Division, Division Management Office, Recruit Co., Ltd.
Kazumasa joined Recruit Co., Ltd. in 2008. After working in the Manabi field as a sales representative solving student recruitment issues for universities, junior colleges, and vocational schools, he experienced sales planning and business promotion before joining the Study Sapuri department in July 2016. After solving problems at high schools in the Tokai region, he assumed his current position in April 2021.