2020 Volume 70 Issue 8 Pages 36-69
The development of digital media usage at school has been observed through periodical surveys held by the NHK Broadcasting Culture Institute's. This paper reports on another learning environment–home, focusing on what digital media are used by junior high school students for home learning, by presenting the findings from a web survey and an in–depth interview of junior high school students and their mothers conducted from autumn through winter 2019. The web survey finds that, among junior high school students who study at home, more than a half use digital media for home learning. Smartphones, tablet computers, and personal computers are used by many those students. By subject, they are mainly used for “English” (looking up English words, searching audio materials, etc.) and for “Period for Integrated Studies” and “social studies” (doing research using search sites and viewing video materials, for both subjects). Still, print media such as textbooks and reference books are used more than digital media as educational materials for home learning. It is also indicated that junior high school students using digital media for home learning are more motivated to learn, more willing to devise ways to understand, and receive better marks than those not using digital media, and that students from households in which the mother encourages the use of digital media are more motivated than those whose mothers are passive about it. The in–depth interview reveals that all of the junior high school students who have their own smartphones use these devices for home learning as dictionaries and encyclopedias, for looking up English words, etc. “Lesson videos,” on which former teachers or cram school teachers explain and demonstrate, are well received, with some students repeatedly watching them until they understand. The survey and the interview were conducted before the temporal closure of schools across Japan because of the spread of coronavirus, and even among the respondents of the web survey, which are deemed to have a high affinity for digital media, not all of them used digital media for home learning. With growing needs for online learning due to coronavirus impact, and given that there are households without digital devices, more careful consideration is required for preventing the widening of learning inequalities.