"Digitalized, future-generation kindergarten" project launches in late May to introduce smartphones and tablet devices in kindergarten education “NASE

- A demonstration experiment at one of Japan's largest educational conglomerates promotes digitalization of education in all generations from kindergarten to preparatory schools

Shingakukai Educational Corporation (Head Office: Nagano, Japan / President: Masaaki Ichikawa / hereinafter "Shingakukai") and Castalia Co. Ltd. (Headquarters: Tokyo, Japan, Representative Director: Satoshi Yamawaki / hereinafter "Castalia") are implementing NASE (NAgano Super Education), a demonstration/experimental project that promotes the practical use of digital devices in education by introducing smartphones and tablet devices, starting from late May 2012.

In this one-year project, we aim to digitalize the educational systems as well as to enhance the effect of learning, by way of the introduction of mobile and tablet learning using digital contents and cloud-based technology at all levels of education under the wings of Shingakukai, one of Japan's largest educational conglomerates, from kindergarten to university entrance examination preparatory school.
As the first step of this project, we are handing out iPod Touch and iPhone devices to approximately 30 teachers at Shingakukai Saku Kindergarten (Saku City, Nagano Prefecture) in late May 2012, to implement a demonstration experiment to promote efficiency of education as well as kindergarten operations. Another demonstration experiment, in which we distribute tablet devices to children at the kindergarten to enhance educational effects, is also being planned.
In this initiative, we do not only hand out the devices but also aim to efficiently and effectively control the operating systems of the kindergarten and the forms of schooling itself with the help of smartphones and tablet devices, so that the nursery teachers can focus all their energies to the children. We will also develop an application dedicated for this purpose, and utilize the ePortfolio starting from kindergarten age.
(Note: ePortfolio is a structure/database that amasses and manages learning records and achievements mainly over the Web and digital devices.)


Screenshot of "Pochitto Log", a tool dedicated to Saku Kindergarten.

It is a web-based application with which the teachers can share information on each child's presence status, health conditions, etc. (The design of the interface is under development.)

The Shingakukai group is Japan's largest educational conglomerate that has 20 kindergartens and nursery schools under it wings, with 4,200 children and 620 teachers. After completing the demonstration experiment at Shingakukai Saku Kindergarten in March 2013, we plan to implement digital solutions at other Shingakukai kindergartens as well, starting from April 2013.
Tsuneaki Kobayashi, Director at Shingakukai comments on this demonstration experiment: "We believe that a mere implementation of educational devices does not maximize the effects. Not only the students but also the entire organization, including teachers and staffs, should be involved in this innovative change using mobile devices and cloud-based technology; we cannot gain true benefit from digitalization if otherwise. Education will drastically change its form in the years to come. By becoming the early birds to incorporate such changes, we hope to realize a better education for the future."
Shingakukai will implement the devices as well as maintain installations such as Wi-Fi environments. Castalia will develop and offer an application for kindergarten teachers aimed at the streamlining of kindergarten operations, as well as another application to digitally manage the children's growth record, and at the same time handle on-site instructions and consulting upon the implementation of digital devices.
About Shingakukai
Shingakukai (Head office: Nagano, Japan / President: Masaaki Ichikawa) is an educational corporation based in Nagano Prefecture. Today it is one of Japan's largest educational conglomerates besides universities, with approximately 800 teachers and 16,000 infants, pupils, and students in the entire group. Shingakukai offers a wide variety of educational enterprises under its wings, including Saku Chosei Junior And Senior High School, which is renowned for its achievements in Ekiden (relay race) and high school baseball, as well as 20 kindergartens/nursery schools and 3 preparatory schools to mention some.
■About Castalia Co. Ltd.
Castalia Co. Ltd. (Headquarters: Tokyo, Japan / Representative Director: Satoshi Yamawaki) produces educational digital content solutions and operates web media for learning, under the concept of "Mobile & Social". Castalia offers a new and educational communication channel between content-providing corporations/educational institutes and individuals, contributing in further enhancing their significance.
【Contact for further inquiries】
Masaki Kuribayashi
Sectional Chief
Childhood Education Section #2
Department Of Education Promotion
1003 Minami-Agatamachi
Nagano, Nagano 380-0836 Japan
E-mail: m_kuribayashi [at] shingakukai.org
(Please change the [at] to @ upon sending the email.)
Atsushi Inutsuka
Project Manager, NASE Project
Castalia Co. Ltd.
E-Mail: atsushi [at] castalia.co.jp
(Please change the [at] to @ upon sending the email.)