Photo: YouTube/Microsoft Surface
tech

Shibuya gives each public elementary, junior high student a Surface Go 2 tablet

35 Comments
By Dale Roll, SoraNews24

If you’ve lived and worked in Japan–especially as an English teacher in Japanese schools–then you might know that the high-tech image of Japan is still somewhat of an illusion. While Japanese companies are certainly at the forefront of producing modern technology for individual consumption, many offices are still using old technology like fax machines and many schools have terribly outdated classrooms. For example, some schools still don’t have air conditioning in their buildings.

But schools in Tokyo are slowly moving towards modernization, as the Shibuya public school system demonstrates. It’s just been announced that they’re going to introduce Microsoft Surface Go 2 tablets at all of the public elementary and junior high schools in the ward to help students with their studies.

The Surface Go 2 was chosen as the ideal tablet for students because it not only meets the standard requirements necessary for the Ministry of Education’s new Global Innovation and Gateway for All (GIGA) School curriculum, but also has the power to operate digital teaching tools. It also allows writing on the screen with the Surface Pen, has high-definition cameras on both sides, and is most suitable for the use of the GIGA School program package.

12,000 of the new tablets–which come with their own full-sized keyboard–will be introduced in Shibuya’s 26 public elementary and junior high schools in September, though these aren’t the first tablets the schools have used. Since 2017 the district has been supplying teachers and students with Microsoft tablets to help with their studies, but they’ve been working hard to be able to provide every student with a tablet. The introduction of the Surface Go 2 is a step towards that goal, as the intention is that every student will get their own Surface Go 2 to use in the classroom and take home.

In addition to the Surface Go 2 tablets, each grade will also have enough Microsoft Classroom Pens to supply one class, and all classrooms will be supplied with Microsoft 365 A5 education suite, which includes Microsoft Office as well as various other programs geared for use in the classroom.

Though for many this is a positive move, as such tools could diversify teaching methods and make managing curricula easier, the move doesn’t come without controversy. Shibuya Ward is a relatively wealthy area of Tokyo, so many netizens wondered if having such technology only in areas that could afford it would cause children to be left behind in others:

“Maybe wealthy areas in the big cities can do this, but for many rural areas this kind of thing would be impossible to incorporate. Kids will have an advantage by growing up in the city. The differences in education will only get worse.”

“I welcome this kind of movement, but it does look like it will increase the gap between economically strong areas and weak ones.”

“From my experience, the number of students who can actually use this kind of technology as intended is only about 20 percent.”

“So rich! Amazing.”

“I’m envious.”

Hopefully over time, and perhaps with assistance from the Japanese Ministry of Education, tablets can be implemented in schools around the country, as all students deserve the same level of education.

Source: PC Watch via Hachima Kiko

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- What’s wrong with English education in Japan? Pull up a chair…

-- Is Japan overworking its teachers? One exhausted educator says, “YES!”

-- Crushing workload at schools is causing more Japanese teachers to crumble from chronic depression

© SoraNews24

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

35 Comments
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This is a great initiative. However, will these tablets come with a lock so they can’t install games on them? Will the teachers also be taught how to use them for something more than excel spread sheets (and gaming)? Will the BOE and Shibuya ward council provide free WiFi in the all these schools to go with them? Have they created sone sort of online curriculum for distance learning while the students are off school? Or, have they just spent a heap of money on paperweights?

8 ( +9 / -1 )

There’s under 250,000 residents in Shibuya. Good for the students. Mind you they’re gonna be using it for sometime yet though.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I want one too

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"But schools in Tokyo are slowly moving towards modernization, as the Shibuya public school system demonstrates."

A perfect example of how Japan's "nation-wide" education system is a farce. So, Shibuya students will be able to work from home while other kids have to wait for their homework to be delivered by post, or dropped off by a teacher, or the kids have to go to school to get it and hand it in (or maybe have it faxed). Then, they write it out by, of course, "state-of-the art" mechanical pencils. The kids with the tablets will be way ahead, and those without way behind, and the latter expected to pick up the slack and catch up, somehow.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

A lot of complainers. Why not congratulate good moves instead of complaining how it's "not good enough"?

1 ( +7 / -6 )

This is a perfect example of the "haves vs the have nots", just like the education minister making comments about the Eiken test, those without money should stick to their own "level", those with out money...basically speaking.......FU

Just how many families, that live close to or under the poverty line here, live in Shibuya?

Yeah right......

4 ( +7 / -3 )

The Covid-19 has shown the digital divide between those who have and those who do. Many poorer family are lacking the technology and the fast internet connection. Shibuya is a more wealthy city

All school children deserve the same.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Who is paying for this new tech?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I'm glad I don't have to pay Shibuya Ward residence taxes. A majority of households in the ward would be expected to have at least one Windows 10 PC. Why not provide the assistance to relatively small number of those who lack such a machine -- INSTEAD OF TO EVERYONE?!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I use a Surface Laptop, the first version. I got it second hand as a couple of years old, but its a really good computer. My wife has a Macbook pro and the build quality is the same. My favourite thing about the Surface Laptop is the screen is not widescreen and is one of the tallest notebook ones, which makes working on documents way easier.

I've also used various versions of the Microsoft Natural Keyboard over the past twenty-five years with my desktop. They make good hardware.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Japan is behind the rest of the world is using this technology, do it is good that they are catching up. Yes, it's just one district, but it will spread quickly.

I don't think the cost is the real issue, but it will be old fashioned ideas in the prefectural boards of education.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@Yubaru

This is a perfect example of the "haves vs the have nots", just like the education minister making comments about the Eiken test, those without money should stick to their own "level", those with out money...basically speaking.......FU

Just how many families, that live close to or under the poverty line here, live in Shibuya?

Yeah right......

Shibuya is a wealthy Ward overall, but there are some pockets of low income areas in Shibuya especially the areas that border some of the other Wards. I know of an area about a 30 min walk form Yoyogi park that is government assistant housing. Lot of very old apartments and houses. Very much unlike what people imagine when they think of Shibuya.

The main problem that I see is the internet access. There are a significant number of people single adults, some families and especially university students that only get internet through their smartphones. Most of the time these people rely on free Wi-Fi. If they can complete their assignments with out the internet then they can connect to send their assignment to their teachers. I think that will be fine. If this synchronous lessons with everyone meeting for a whole class day then I think it won't work.

1) the internet connections are not equal (Where will people get free Wi-Fi during a lockdown?) The internet providers will need to be apart of this plan.

2) the younger kids won' be able to sit still infront of the computer all day

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Also, a curriculum is also important. Who will design the curriculum? Japan leadership is almost none existent unless they copy it from somewhere else. You see how long it is taking to incorporate English into the curriculum. I doubt they will do any better with this.

Wealthier smaller private with schools will handle this better than the average public school.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Computers don't make kids smarter. It just gives them more distractions. MSFT, Apple and Google each know that the first computer anyone has will effectively trap 95% of them for life with that OS.

Microsoft massively subsidized the tablets to get the money from Office350 ( downtime so 365 isn't truthful). Those schools should be prepared to pay through the nose for annual online service contracts by MSFT. They will be trapped, but just don't realize it yet.

For many schools, the alternative would be Google Chromebooks, which are much easier to manage for a school and usually subsidized by google. Swapping out a chromebook doesn't prevent student access to anything since most stuff is stored on google's servers. Just borrow a friend's chromebook and log into the same google account to have access for everything. Same for a home computer - just login using the same google account and everything is there. Recently accessed documents are kept locally too, so working disconnected is possible.

MS-Windows installation management for schools really sucks. Expect to pay 2x what a chromebook solution would have cost. Of course, neither are good for student privacy.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Computers don't make kids smarter. It just gives them more distractions. MSFT, Apple and Google each know that the first computer anyone has will effectively trap 95% of them for life with that OS.

I was gonna say, this seems to be a lot like the Apple initiatives in the 1980s. Apple gave roughly a gazillion Apple IIe computers to elementary and junior high schools in America during the 1980s... and guess which generation drove the Mac boom of the 90s and 2000s?

Hell, even now my generation thinks of old fashioned games like 'Oregon Trail' in the Apple display patterns.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Why not provide the assistance to relatively small number of those who lack such a machine -- INSTEAD OF TO EVERYONE?!

The idea is probably to provide a consistent platform to each individual student. Teachers will know exactly what each student is working with and can adapt work within that system.

Also, if a family has a computer at home, there's no guarantee that the individual students can get access to it when they need it. Also, the Surface (I had one of the earlier models) is lightweight and easily carried to school or anywhere else.

As for the WiFi question, there are many options--the portable pocket versions which can support multiple users being one of the best choices in Japan.

It's a progressive move. And once done successfully in one area, the idea will catch on in others. It's a win-win scenario.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Bugle Boy: "A lot of complainers. Why not congratulate good moves instead of complaining how it's "not good enough"?"

You're right, and while we're at it, let's forego waiting for assistance from the government and just congratulate big businesses on being bailed out. They should get it -- not us. We shouldn't complain, just like all the other kids in Japan shouldn't complain because the kids of one of the richest wards in the nation do, while they get the recycled foolscap papers they need to fill out with pencil and risk their health to go hand in. You're bang on, amigo!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

An idea to stick your eyes and mind onto the small screen? Not good, instead they can just have fun learning through outdoor activities.

Btw, it's an American company. What happened to Japanese brand laptops/pads? Just let it go?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This is a perfect example of the "haves vs the have nots", 

uhhh...since when did PUBLIC schools become the “haves?” Me thinks reading comprehension is weak in this one.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

theFuMay 17  11:02 pm JST

Computers don't make kids smarter.

NYC recently purchased something like 750,000 iPads (facepalm) -- each unit costing about $900 (included case and software). At least MS subsidizes the cost of their tablets and Google Chromebooks are quite affordable; Apple is quite stingy and NYC received only $30 discount per unit.

I'm quite frustrated by so-called education reformers pushing for this fallacious idea that technology is going to fix what they failed in classroom.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I'm quite frustrated by so-called education reformers pushing for this fallacious idea that technology is going to fix what they failed in classroom.

To me that seems like the equivalent of saying children shouldn't be given pencils, because they should learn to memorize.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

StrangerlandToday  06:14 am JST

To me that seems like the equivalent of saying children shouldn't be given pencils, because they should learn to memorize.

No child needs a magic Apple pencil that costs $100 to learn how to write.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

No child needs a magic Apple pencil that costs $100 to learn how to write.

On that same logic, one does not need a pencil that costs $1.25 when they can memorize.

Sure, they don't need it. Neither do you need a car, or even shoes really. But they are things that make life a lot easier.

So what exactly is the problem here?

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

StrangerlandToday  08:34 am JST

On that same logic, one does not need a pencil that costs $1.25 when they can memorize.

Sure, a pencil's a writing or drawing tool, not a memorization tool:

"A pencil is an implement for writing or drawing, constructed of a narrow, solid pigment core in a protective casing that prevents the core from being broken and/or ..." (wiki)

Sure, they don't need it. Neither do you need a car, or even shoes really. But they are things that make life a lot easier.

Nobody needs a $100K BWM 7 Series or $1,000 D&G sneakers to travel around, or "make life a lot easier." Most people can get by just fine in a $25K Honda Accord.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Sure, a pencil's a writing or drawing tool, not a memorization tooL

But what is the point of writing, other than to extend one's ability to memorize?

Pencils allow for storing memories in a way that pure memorization cannot.

Computers allow for storing data in a way that a pencil cannot.

Why is it ok for a pencil, which extends memory, to be used by a student, but a computer, which extends it even further, is not?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Nobody needs a $100K BWM 7 Series or $1,000 D&G sneakers to travel around, or "make life a lot easier." Most people can get by just fine in a $25K Honda Accord.

Your comparison is more akin to a pair of running shoes, vs. a honda accord.

Sure, one should know how to walk. Does that mean no one needs a car?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Nobody needs a $100K BWM 7 Series

True, but I still want one.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I can rent a BMW much more cost effectively than I can buy it.

Shared computers have existed for a very long time. Studies show that typing doesn't help humans learn the same way that using a pencil does. Something about the act of writing makes learning happen.

https://lifehacker.com/why-you-learn-more-effectively-by-writing-than-by-typin-5738093

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/article/taking-notes-by-hand-could-improve-memory-wt/

https://www.npr.org/2016/04/17/474525392/attention-students-put-your-laptops-away

In college, I learned that if I wrote my notes 3 times, I would know the material and that was without cheating before class .... you know, by actually showing up to the lecture having read the material to be covered.

I'm not suggesting that zero computer exposure is desired.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

StrangerlandToday  09:55 am JST

But what is the point of writing, other than to extend one's ability to memorize?

Computers allow for storing data in a way that a pencil cannot.

Sure, what is the point of memorizing, if whatever we learn during our life time, we all eventually die? Let's just keep playing your nonsense all day.

Pencils allow for storing memories in a way that pure memorization cannot.

And that pencil doesn't have to be a $100 magic Apple pencil vs $.50 graphite based ones insofar as learning to master the basics of "writing" in school is concerned. Writing with an expensive Apple pencil wouldn't necessarily produce better creative writing.

Why is it ok for a pencil, which extends memory, to be used by a student, but a computer, which extends it even further, is not?

A computer does not extend one's ability to memorize more data. The lack of textbooks or writing pads aren't the bottlenecks in learning.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

However, will these tablets come with a lock so they can’t install games on them?

The school tablets probably be using Windows 10 S. The biggest difference in Windows 10 S is that can only run apps downloaded from the Windows Store. These apps are checked for security and run in a secure container. Windows 10 S won’t have all the usual manufacturer-installed bloatware slowing things down.

My favourite thing about the Surface Laptop is the screen is not widescreen and is one of the tallest notebook ones, which makes working on documents way easier.

Surface screens use 3:2 ratio instead of widescreen 16:9 ratio. That means ya can have 16:9 widescreen video/picture and still have free space at the top or bottom to do other stuff

1 ( +1 / -0 )

These apps are checked for security and run in a secure container.

Its comforting because we know these can’t be hacked. ;-)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Its comforting because we know these can’t be hacked. ;-)

Yeah, right.

ChromeOS runs from a read-only mounted OS file system. The OS images are signed and TPM validated. Good luck hacking that. There are plenty of negatives with ChromeOS, but security isn't one. Privacy is completely gone, however.

I like the way Surface devices look, just want to load a better OS on them.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

> But what is the point of writing, other than to extend one's ability to memorize?

So, this supposition leads to very false conclusions-completely illogical...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

StrangerlandMay 18  09:56 am JST

Your comparison is more akin to a pair of running shoes, vs. a honda accord.

Sure, one should know how to walk. Does that mean no one needs a car?

Sure, and where is your evidence that a computer can do improve learning the same way to a Honda accord do to traveling?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@theFU

Shared computers have existed for a very long time. Studies show that typing doesn't help humans learn the same way that using a pencil does. Something about the act of writing makes learning happen.

That research is mostly true for people who grew up mostly writing before computers were invented or used by the majority of people.

It is not the same for children born during the age of smart devices, nor is it true for previous generations that only usual oral transmissions.

The children brains develop differently based on the stimulus provided which can be either beneficial or detrimental depending on the situation.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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