Kids go gaga for tablet PC learning

JIJI

Home-learning services delivered via tablet computers are becoming increasingly popular across the country, particularly after major education service provider Benesse Corp. launched tablet PC-based services in the spring, industry officials said.

More than 910,000 Benesse customers have signed up for tablet-based courses so far, with such users accounting for more than 40 percent of the firm’s total “Shinkenzemi” correspondence education learners in elementary, junior high and high schools that make use of tablet-based services, the officials said.

Benesse has designed special tablet-based courses for elementary school students, replacing traditional paper-based learning with a wide variety of video and other digital content.

The monthly fee for these courses is ¥3,343 — the same as for the paper-based courses. If subscribers continue to use the tablet service for six months, they can receive the terminals for free.

“My son dropped out of a paper-based course,” said a Tokyo woman whose first-grader son uses the digital Benesse service. “But he apparently finds it easier to understand with the use of a tablet PC and has more fun. He now studies without being told to do so.”

DeNA Co. has also started offering tablet-based courses for elementary school students, priced at ¥1,000 per month. The courses are provided via a downloaded application and the students study on their own terminals.

Another company, JustSystems Corp., launched its tablet PC courses for junior high school students in December after the success of a similar service for elementary school children in 2012, which cost ¥3,888 per month.

The main attraction of tablet PC-based education services is that the learning is interactive. Children can see their grades as soon as they complete questions, and some services will email copies of the test results to the parents’ handsets, helping them monitor the child’s progress.