Why did a Pioneer in Online High School Choose learningBOX?

Broadmedia Corporation, which operates the Renaissance High School Group, a wide-area correspondence and credit system that utilizes the Internet and digital teaching materials, held a discussion with Mr. Takayoshi Momoi, Director and Executive Officer, General Manager of Educational Service Division, and Mr. Yoichiro Nishimura, President of learningBOX. Nishimura has been developing the group's learning management system on consignment since 2012, and has been involved in the development of various functions requested by the group since the transition to "learningBOX" in 2022. In this interview, we asked Nishimura about how he came to be commissioned to develop the system, his reasons for migrating to learningBOX, the benefits of the system, and his future outlook.

Broadmedia Corporation
Director, Executive Officer, General Manager, Educational Services Division
Takayoshi Momoi

After working in the education industry, he was in charge of creating new businesses at Dai-ichi Kosho Co. After moving to Broadmedia Corporation, he learned that online homeschooling was spreading in the U.S. and led the establishment of Renaissance High School, a correspondence high school focusing on Internet learning. Based on students' voices, he established Japan's first e-sports course and K-POP course, and continues to support students' desire to do what they want to do. Currently, he is making efforts to help students obtain qualifications such as certified tax accountants.

representative director (i.e. someone chosen by the board of directors from among the directors to actually represent the company)
Yoichiro Nishimura

Engaged in research on software engineering at the Faculty and Graduate School of Science and Technology, Keio University. After joining Kiban Corporation, he was involved in four of the 31 systems registered as "Learning Manegement Systems" with the e-Learning Consortium. In July 2012, he founded Tatsuno Information Systems Corporation (now LearningBOX Corporation). In the field of competitive programming (Atcoder) php, he still maintains a world-class position.

The Renaissance High School Group, operated by Broadmedia Corporation, is a group of high schools
Renaissance High School is known as a pioneer of correspondence high schools that offer e-learning through the use of smartphones and tablets. The company operates three schools, Renaissance High School, Renaissance Toyota High School, and Renaissance Osaka High School, as well as 11 campuses, offering e-sports courses and a variety of other courses specializing in performing arts, beauty, study abroad, and entrance exams.

The establishment of learningBOX was triggered by contracted system development for the Renaissance High School Group

I understand that Mr. Momoi led the establishment of Renaissance High School.

Mr. Momoi:Yes, I am a member of the Broadmedia team. About 20 years ago, I was in charge of the broadcasting business at Broadmedia. When you hear the word "broadcasting," you probably think of music, movies, dramas, and other forms of entertainment, but I wanted to do something new, so I proposed the education business.

It was a time when services via the Internet had not yet become so widespread in the world, but we proposed to establish a wide-area correspondence high school where students could study online, and to give it the commitment of a correspondence company. At the time, some within the company questioned, "Why is our company in the education business?" At the time, some people within the company questioned, "Why is our company in the education business? However, the proposal was readily adopted, and I was assigned to launch the new business.

Today, the Renaissance High School Group has grown to a total enrollment of more than 8,000 students in its three schools, but at the time of its establishment, there were only two students enrolled. At the entrance ceremony for the first school, in the town of Daiko, Kuji-gun, Ibaraki Prefecture, only one student showed up! There were about 80 visitors (laughs). That was the beginning of the wide-area correspondence high school.

Can you tell us how Nishimura came to be entrusted with the system?

Mr. Momoi:At that time, there were few educational businesses using the Internet, and no suitable system for e-learning existed. At that time, we were using a system built by another company, but even the best system becomes outdated after a few years. So we decided to rebuild a new system.

At that time, there was an employee whom I trusted very much. When I asked him about a client for the system, he introduced me to Mr. Nishimura, a colleague from his previous job. However, Mr. Nishimura was a sole proprietor at the time, so I was apprehensive about requesting an important mission-critical system.

However, that person strongly assured me, "I have never seen anyone who can work like that!" He strongly assured me that he had never seen anyone who could do such a good job, so I decided to ask Mr. Nishimura to do it if he would say that much.

Nishimura:Because of this background, we decided to incorporate the company. The relationship with Broadmedia led to the founding of Tatsuno Information System Corporation (now learningBOX Corporation). for nearly 10 years from April 2013, we were contracted to develop an original learning management system for the Renaissance High School Group, which was built from scratch (developing an original system from scratch). The system was built from scratch.

Mr. Momoi:At the time, Mr. Nishimura was still young, but I was impressed. I am glad I asked Mr. Nishimura to do it.

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Highly valued for its versatility and safety because it is cloud-based

Then in 2022, you moved to a cloud-based learning management system, learningBOX. What were the deciding factors?

Mr. Momoi:IT technology evolves rapidly, so even the best system will be useless after 10 years. Therefore, we considered two options. We were torn between a fully custom-made system that was unique to our company, and a cloud-based system that other companies and schools also use. We were torn between the two, but this time we decided to go with the latter, which is a more versatile system.
learningBOXThe system was quickly upgraded as technology evolved, and it was also safe and secure.I thought learningBOX's development capabilities were amazing. The fact that it was also compatible with multiple devices was also a deciding factor.

About Version Up
LearningBOX performs major version upgrades four times a year, and new functions are introduced and existing functions are improved every quarter. Every Wednesday (excluding holidays), we also perform minor version upgrades that include bug fixes and vulnerability fixes, etc. Support for the version currently in use is also an important part of our daily operations.

Security Measures
To ensure that customers can use learningBOX with peace of mind, we have established a security system and are continuously working on various security enhancements.

Learning Box - eLearning System

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Administrators' burden and students' hurdles to study are also felt to be reduced.

What has been the effect of the transition to learningBOX?

Mr. Momoi:In terms of operations on the administrator side, we were able to reduce the man-hours required for user registration and other tasks. The previous system developed 11 years ago had an outdated UI design and was not optimized for smartphones. The learningBOX system solved these problems in one fell swoop.

Smartphone learning is now commonplace.

Mr. Momoi:At the time, some questioned, "Is it safe to study on a cell phone?" Some people wondered, "Is it safe to study on a mobile phone? However, children were familiar with cell phones and smartphones, and the habit of studying on mobile devices came naturally to them.

In one case, a high school student from a single-mother household was studying on her cell phone while taking care of her older siblings while her mother was at work. With a computer, you can't study while babysitting. When I heard that story,Being able to study anytime, anywhere is great because it lowers the hurdle to studyI was convinced that this was the case.

We needed a learning management system that would make it easy to study on mobile devices such as cell phones, smartphones, and tablets, and learningBOX, with its strengths in this area, matched the "mobile learning" that we were aiming for.

Nishimura:Speaking of "mobile learning," the free quiz and question creation tool "QuizGenerator" received a major upgrade at the end of last year. It has evolved to be even easier to use, with a UI that makes it easier to study even on smartphones.

Mr. Momoi:(Looking at Nishimura's smartphone screen) It looks very easy to use! When we think of "studying," the image we have is of sitting at a desk and opening a textbook for long hours, but I think the style of studying that can be done efficiently with a smartphone fits the current era. I believe it is thanks to smartphones that the hurdle to studying has been lowered.

About QuizGenerator
Anyone can easily create and publish quizzes and questions in a wide variety of formats on the Web, even without specialized knowledge of the Web or IT. There are a total of 13 types of quizzes and questions, including correct/incorrect and fill-in-the-blank questions. The tool is also free for commercial use and can be used for corporate training and examinations.

QuizGenerator | Free quiz and question generator

In May 2023, we also released "Easy Quiz Generation with AI," which can generate quizzes from keywords, YouTube video URLs, and website URLs.

Easy quiz generation with AI! | QuizGenerator

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From group classes to individual tutoring, AI utilization is the key to the future.

It is expected that the use of AI will be increasingly promoted in the field of education. What are your thoughts on the future of education?

Mr. Momoi:The number of students in wide-area correspondence high schools nationwide has increased from at most 180,000 in the last nearly 20 years to more than 260,000 now, partly due to the Corona disaster. I believe that correspondence education will continue to grow.

We believe that educational policy will also change from group classes to individualized instruction. And the core of individualized instruction will be AI. In the current group classes, there is no choice but to adjust to the middle of the range between the top performers and the bottom performers. In this situation, "able-bodied children" want to move up but are unable to do so, and they lose motivation. This is why we believe that individualized instruction is best for each student. However, there is a limit to human ability alone, so AI is still necessary.

Would it also help solve the "teacher shortage?"

Mr. Momoi:Certainly, the use of AI is also intended to compensate for the "teacher shortage. If AI increasingly permeates the educational field in the future, the role of teachers will become more important for life guidance than for instruction of learning content. For example, the role of teachers as counselors and supporters of children will gradually change.

Nishimura:The evolution of AI is accelerating, isn't it? It seems to have evolved to the point that high school and college students have no idea what skills they will be expected to have once they graduate from school.

Mr. Momoi:Yes, we are. Our school is also considering enhancing education related to AI in the future. I believe that information education without programming is like English education without English conversation. Many people have a certain understanding of English grammar, but are not good at listening and speaking. Programming is another situation where students learn a lot of things in information subjects but cannot actually program...this is the current reality. I believe this situation must be changed. I hope that talented engineers like Mr. Nishimura can take on the responsibility of programming education.

Nishimura:Yes, I believe that in order to survive in a society where AI is accelerating, programming language operation skills will also be increasingly required in the future.

About AI Function Development
In the fall of 2023, we developed a new ChatGPT-linked "AI Assist" function: automatic generation of quizzes and tests, automatic generation of memorization cards, automatic analysis of reports, and automatic creation of courses. 2024 will also see the implementation of various AI Assist functions.

AI Assist | e-learning system learningBOX

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Wide-area correspondence high school x learningBOX provides children with opportunities for spontaneous growth

What do you expect from learningBOX in the future?

Mr. Momoi:The Renaissance High School Group has produced many graduates who are golf and soccer players and entertainers. Recently, more and more of our students are going on to college.What we have felt since launching the wide-area correspondence high school is that what children are looking for is an environment where they can do what they want to do at their own pace.Children will attend school and study if it is to achieve what they want to do.

To give an example of a student who attends the e-sports course, he was originally not attending school, but he enrolled in the Renaissance High School Group and started attending school to play e-sports. He also became a leader in that group and began to demonstrate his skills more and more. Furthermore, since the common language of e-sports is English, I felt the need to study English hard. We want to increase opportunities for that kind of spontaneous growth.

To that end, I would like learningBOX to develop a system that is easy and enjoyable for children to use and study. We hope that schools other than our school will use this system more and more.

Nishimura:Thank you very much. As a system provider, we would like to see many students who graduated from Renaissance High School Group playing an active role in the future. We will continue to focus on expanding our development areas to realize "a future where anyone in the world can freely learn anytime, anywhere.

LearningBOX" is a learning management system suitable for school education and correspondence schools.

Reference School Education | Usage Scenes | learningBOX e-learning system

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Case Studies - Renaissance High School Group | learningBOX e-learning system

In this issue, we spoke with Renaissance High School Group. We introduce a case study of a wide-area correspondence high school using learningBOX. If you are considering the introduction or replacement of LMS at your correspondence school, please take a look at it for reference.

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