A Technology-Driven, Future-Oriented School that Sees Potential in Individual Students
KADOKAWA Group's Actions Toward Sustainability

A Technology-Driven, Future-Oriented School that Sees Potential in Individual Students

*Title picture: academic year 2019 graduation ceremony
  • N High School started its operation in 2016 to provide correspondence courses using the Internet and ICT tools. The number of its students, combined with that of S High School topped 20,000.
  • Many students choose N High School and S High School as they can find what they want to do from a variety of curriculums and allocate more time to what they want to do.
  • The schools help students become self-directed through various initiatives, with more students taking on diverse challenges, such as revitalizing local towns and starting an apparel brand.

N High School and S High School are online schools run by Kadokawa Dwango Educational Institute. They use Dwango’s independently developed interactive education/learning services as well as experiential learning services via virtual reality. How do online schools differ from conventional in-person schools? How does ideal learning for the future look like in the eye of N/S High School?

N High School (Kadokawa Dwango Educational Institute), opened in April 2016 in Uruma City, Okinawa, is a credit system, regional correspondence high school. Its students can learn at their own pace using cutting-edge tools employed by technology and other businesses, including Slack and Google Workspace, on personal computers, smartphones, and tablets. It is a high school defined by Article 1 of the School Education Act of Japan, from which students can earn a high school diploma. Also, since daily learning can be done via the Internet, it accepts students not only in Japan but also abroad.

N High School provides education broadly across three barriers. The first is a geopolitical and time barrier. Students who have a long distance from the school or cannot afford time to commute can learn from anywhere and anytime. The second is an economic barrier. Students whose household income is below a certain level can limit school expenses for three years to around 200,000 yen using government subsidies. The third is a barrier of academic ability. Students can study according to how far they have got with their academic work. Therefore, those who could not go to school for a variety of reasons can start with reviewing lessons from elementary or junior high school levels, if necessary.

As such, we are working to create a better environment for delivering equal educational opportunities for everyone. N High School also strives to provide high-quality education that combines online and in-person classrooms. Its curriculums extend to education that respond to the needs of an internet-based society beyond compulsory credit courses for earning a high school diploma. Students can select as much as courses as they wish from a variety of study options, such as preparing for college entrance exams, learning programming or web design, gaining work experience, and studying abroad.

Therefore, in addition to students who choose N High School as their choice of correspondence high school because they cannot attend a full-time high school, more students are actively opting for the school for a variety of reasons. For example, they choose it because they want to focus on getting themselves ready for college entrance exams, acquire more practical knowledge, or study while starting a business. As a result, the number of students, which stood at 1,482 at the time of opening, rose to 20,603 as of September 30, 2021, including those at S High School, another school opened in April 2021.

The combined number of students at N High School and S High School increased to 20,603. The distribution of their residency extends across Japan nearly in the same proportion as that of Japan’s population.

“We provide new and diverse education programs that respond to the needs of an internet-based society where we now live in. This is based on our institutional philosophy of equipping students with a comprehensive ability to survive a globalized, IT-oriented society, to develop globally active talent.” (Michiko Nagai, PR, Kadokawa Dwango Educational Institute)

To provide diverse study options for students, N/S High School has four major learning modes. The main mode of learning is the Self-Paced Online Course, with students learning everything via the Internet except for attending in-person screening of around eight days per year. The schools also offer the Commuter Course, in which students attend one of 19 campuses located across Japan (increase to 33 campuses across 20 cities in Japan in April 2022).

The schools offer multiple courses, such as the Commuter Course and the Online Commuting Course, in addition to the Self-Paced Online Course (As of January 2022).
The schools have 33 campuses across Japan, including 14 campuses newly opened in April 2022 (indicated as "New" in the figure above).

In academic year 2021, the Online Commuting Course was newly launched. This course helps students acquire self-direction and the ability to act: they build teamwork experience facing each other by joining online group work from anywhere using ICT tools. In addition, the Commuter Programming Course for specialization in programming and virtual reality technology-enabled learning have also started. Various activities are also taking place for students to interact and play with each other. They include online joint extracurricular activities of N/S High Schools (e.g., investment, entrepreneurship, politics, e-sports, dance, art, and research clubs), as well as online field trips and online athletic festivals.

The Commuter Course and the Online Commuting Course of N/S High School have launched “Project N” in collaboration with various businesses and government offices. It is a project-based learning program in which students work on solving social issues. The program helps high school students acquire knowledge and skills to be active in society. The program won GOOD DESIGN AWARD in 2020.

“Each project is run on a case-by-case basis. Usually, a team of five to six students works on one topic over a period of one to three months for a specific output, and presents the result. Through working on Project N, students develop skills to identify problems and come up with solutions by themselves, and communicate to others.” (Nagai)

Students can also gain various in-person experience; such as in dairy farming (left); watching and performing Eisa, a traditional Okinawan folk dance, at the time of screening in Ikei Island, Okinawa (right).

Students have worked on various Project N initiatives. Examples of them include “The Future of Agricultural Heritage Project” in which students developed a plan for the ideas of “developing the sixth-order industry to hand over agricultural heritages to the next generations”. This agricultural heritage project was conducted in November 2020 in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan. In other projects, students drew up plans for intellectual education toys and Real Escape Game, and produced original brand clothes.

Additionally, N Progressive School that targets junior high school students was opened in April 2019. While it is not a junior high school defined by Article 1 of the School Education Act, it is a progressive school based on a new concept leveraging educational contents of N/S High School. Starting in April 2022, N Progressive School will strengthen a framework for helping students design their future path from age 12 to realize their individual dreams, by working more closely with N/S High School.

“Many students gradually find what they want to do while working on various studies and activities in the schools. One of the virtues of N/S High School is that both options are available: trying various things, and focusing on one thing to master it.” (Nagai)

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