Services & Business
Providing the best learning environment for everyone, aiming to solve the problem of "education gap"
An online study service used by half of all entrance exam students in Japan
It's a matter of fact that university entrance exams in certain Asian nations like Japan and South Korea are very different from those North America and Europe. For example, entrance exams in North America generally involve the evaluation of a student's grades and performance in high school along with documents like an essay describing their motivations. However, in Japan paper exams prepared by each university are conducted simultaneously each year. For this reason, most students counteract this by attending cram or prep schools. The unfortunate truth, however, is that factors like financial circumstances or place of residence make it difficult for every student to receive the same quality of study at these schools. "Study Sapuri" (exam school supplement) is a service created to reduce this education gap.
"Study Sapuri" was launched in 2011. As of 2015, the online study service offers students unlimited viewing of 5 curriculums, 13 subjects, and over 2,000 lessons taught by professional instructors for a monthly fee of 980 yen. The service features past test questions from a maximum of 3 years ago from over 140 universities divided up by national, public, or private school, as well as department and subject. With one-half of all entrance exam students in Japan using the service, it now boasts nearly 300,000 registered users.
Instructor, Shinagawa Joshi Gakuin
(Head of Admissions & Career Choices Dept.)
University entrance exams are one step towards students realizing their dreams. This is why it's important to fill the gaps in their essential basic studies.
Study Sapuri was introduced to bolster the student's core academics.
Beginning this year, achievement level tests will be conducted for students in their freshman, sophomore, and junior year of high school in order to determine their basic learning skills. Shinagawa Joshi Gakuin in Tokyo began using Study Sapuri in order to bolster the academic abilities of their students.
At Shinagawa Joshi Gakuin, we strive to provide an education that allows students to develop their individual talents and cultivate their dreams. Students proceed along their own paths after they graduate in order to fulfill these dreams. We teachers must always keep in mind the importance of the essential studies that are essential first step towards these dreams for every student in their education in middle school and high school. This is part of the reason we decided to introduce Study Sapuri last year.
The service not only allows students to study according to their own abilities, but also in fact fulfills a large role for teachers. Study Sapuri includes a feature that acts as a study management system for each student, which allows us to understand the needs of individual students with pinpoint accuracy while comparing the results of their achievement level tests. This is why we believe it can effectively supplement essentials studies outside of the classroom.
Conveying our intentions for introducing Study Sapuri at Shinagawa Joshi Gakuin has also earned us the trust and understanding of our students' parents. Our students' dreams are not only their own dreams, but the dreams of their families and us teachers as well.
High School Senior
Shinagawa Joshi Gakuin
My own personal lessons are just as fun as learning from a textbook.
As a high school senior, she is the definition of a student preparing for university entrance exams. Up until nearly a year ago she had no need for a cram school or prep school and only attended her regular classes. Now, however, she studies every day for the entrance exams next spring using Study Sapuri, which was introduced at her school, Shinagawa Joshi Gakuin.
The fact that university entrance exams are coming up soon has really made me feel again the importance of core academics. At the same time, I also realized that in the past I've been a bit lax with my studies, to the point where I really don't remember much of what I learned in my freshman year or last year of middle school... I use Study Sapuri to make up for these gaps and to learn the classic literature, history, and English that I'll need for my entrance exams. My teachers in high school can't just tell me to go back and retake my middle school courses, after all (laughs).
School starts at 8:20. Study Sapuri lessons last around 30 minutes, so every morning I go to school at 7:45 and watch an English lesson before heading to class. That's my routine each morning. I can feel the results of doing this during my English class at school.
Thanks to Study Sapuri I've been able to use my time effectively, and it's also nice to be able to improve without carrying my textbooks all the time. On top of that, the lessons are just as fun as learning from a textbook. The reason is that I feel like the lessons are being conducted just for me."
Studying with a tablet has helped reduce the amount of items Riho needs to carry with her.
Shifting from "Uniformity" to "Individuality" towards a bright future
Mr. Fujihara is working to bring about various educational reforms with an eye towards the future of Japan.
After a successful 18-year career at Recruit Co., Ltd., Mr. Kazuhiro Fujihara became the first individual from a private sector to serve as a junior high school principal in the Tokyo public school system. Drawing on his experience, he offers an active learning course called "Yononaka-ka (Real Life Classes)" in Study Sapuri that is aimed to develop problem-solving skills through discussions on debatable topics. With his deep knowledge on past and present Japanese school practices, he explores new ways and ideas on improving the school system.
Nothing has changed in the Japanese education system in the past 140 or so years. Schools still practice lecture-style teaching where one teacher addresses a class full of students.
On the other hand, countries which have transformed into a mature society have long adopted active learning-style teaching in their education system. A good example is the French school system where debate classes are offered to students starting as early as elementary school. In terms of language classes, Japanese schools typically teach Ethics, while in other countries you'll find classes that have creative ways to develop critical thinking skills, like engaging students to discuss the main character's feelings in Ernest Hemingway's works. I call this, "multi-perspective thinking skills." It is the ability to see a problem from diverse perspectives.
In a typical lecture-style class in Japan, the teachers provide a number of answers to a question and the students are taught to choose the correct answer from those options. But when you get used to this style of teaching, you'll learn to think that someone will provide you with possible answers to your problems. Further, you'll expect that there will always be a correct answer in the options that are laid out for you. But we all know that in the real world that this is not true.
That's why I believe in the coming decade, our education system must shift from the current lecture-style/rigid thought process-type teaching to a system that focuses on nurturing our children to develop "multi-perspective thinking skills." They must learn to face problems that don't have correct answers and to be able to cope with the mature society of the 21st century. I believe that Juken-sapri is one way to assist students develop such skills. Study Sapuri will encourage students to learn independently and move towards a bright future.
Mr. Fujihara describes Japan as a country undergoing a shift from a "growth society" to a "mature society."
Providing the best learning environment for everyone, aiming to solve the problem of "education gap"
Masao Seki provides lessons on Study Sapuri as an English instructor. He communicates the fun of English to students in an easy to understand manner with the slogan "breaking away from rote memorization of English."
This opinion may be inconsistent with my position as an English teacher, but I personally hope that education in Japan reaches a point where we no longer have to rely upon cram schools and prep schools. In other words, I hope we reach a point where regular school education can cover everything. But, the fact of the matter is that the workload of teaching staff now is greater than we can imagine. That's why entrance exam students need cram schools and prep schools, and why I have worked so many years as an English teacher.
When I was asked to do lessons for Study Sapuri, I was initially surprised to see that the service was being offered for only 980 yen a month, especially since cram schools and prep schools in Japan generally cost around 40 to 50,000 yen a month.
Another thing I like is that it allows children living on remote islands that don't even have bookstores to receive the same education online as students in cities with all their amenities.
One thing I've come to understand as I've worked with Study Sapuri is that it removes educational obstacles that arise due to financial circumstances, location, and time. There are Japanese students living in Peru who have viewed my lessons, as well as those who are unable to go to school due to illness but use Study Sapuri because they want to become a doctor in the future. I want to do everything I can to help kids in those situations.
Mr. Seki'a easy-to-understand lessons have proven popular with many students.
Tokyo University of Foreign Studies
I don't think I would have been accepted into my university if I had not have found Study Sapuri.
Yukako, who is now a sophomore in college, got accepted to the university she wanted by using Study Sapuri as part of her entrance exam studies in high school. Encountering a study method that suited her not only helped Yukako with her entrance exams, but also in discovering the fun of learning.
When I was preparing for my entrance exams, I spent every day going to a cram school after I finished regular school, and then studying more after I got home. But, I found the world history lessons taught by Hidetaro Murayama on Study Sapuri to be really fun, which in turn made me interested in world history and enjoy studying.
Up until then I would really have to sit at a desk with my textbooks, materials, and notebooks and really switch modes, like "I'm going to study now!" Once I started using Study Sapuri, though, I came to understand that I'm the type of person who learns more from listening to people than from sitting at a desk.
Another thing is that when it's entrance exam season, even when I was out having fun with friends on days off from school there would always be a part of me thinking that I should be studying. Study Sapuri is great because it lets me study at times like that just by starting the app on my smartphone. I've actually watched lessons with my friends at a cafe while we were hanging out. At home I would use it more while sitting on the sofa or in the bath than I would at my desk.
Being able to learn while listening to teachers regardless of the time or place turned out to be the perfect study method for me. I don't think I would have been accepted into my university if I had not have found Study Sapuri.
Being able to study anywhere regardless of time or location is reassuring for students.
Yukako was eventually accepted at four universities.
Educational formats, services, and concepts like MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), e-learning, and active learning have become commonplace online and are changing daily.
Teachers in Japan are said to be the busiest in the world, and have a larger workload than anyone can imagine. That's why entrance exam students need cram schools and prep schools, and why I have worked so many years as an English teacher.
But, as we speed towards the future at an ever faster pace, people require not only memorization, but also diverse thinking power than will allow them to adapt to the situation at hand. Study Sapuri tackles this issue head-on by removing disparities that arise due to time, location, or finances while offering an ideal educational service for the future.
A free members-only website full of useful study tools to support university entrance-exam taking.