Highlighted Site: gacco

Yasumasa Watanabe is the Project Manager of Development at DOCOMO gacco, Inc. Gacco is an education company in the NTT DOCOMO, INC. group. In addition to running their own site, they are involved with the Open edX User Group Japan.

What is gacco?

We want to change the educational environment in Japan. We provide not only University courses online, but also face to face opportunities in “flipped classroom” style lectures on campus. Since gacco is a subsidiary of NTT DOCOMO, Inc.–which is a mobile giant in Japan–we are able to provide a mobile option, allowing for study while commuting or away from your home computer. We believe that we will develop a better future for Japan through the offering of educational opportunities for students, professionals, and lifelong learners.

We have:

  • 170k users
  • 100 courses (approximate)

Almost one-third of these courses have the option for a flipped classroom on campus. Because Japan is a smaller country, we have the ability to provide those lessons on campus.

A sceenshot of a gacco course, displaying side bar and videos.

What unique challenges exist for online learning in Japan?

There are very few potential students for Japanese MOOCs. We don’t know why this is, but we have a few ideas. The Japanese are not that familiar with English, and many other MOOCs are in English. There is also an interest in school credentials, and when MOOCs don’t offer that, they may be less appealing.

Moodle with SCORM is the major player in the Japanese learning management system (LMS) market, especially in colleges and universities. We feel that there are benefits to the Open edX platform that come from the differences between it and other LMSes. Reusing SCORM content is a good theme for exploring for exploring the use of the Open edX platform. The UX of edX Studio makes it easy to migrate from SCORM.

What’s next for gacco?

We want to improve the gacco platform for business use. We already have about 20,000 enterprise users. We also want to increase the number of international courses in order to increase the number of international students–Japanese universities are working to raise enrollment of foreign students. We’re hoping gacco will be used by students and potential students interested in Japan and studying here.

Since our classes are only in Japanese, they are very closed to many international students. We are working on creating English subtitles for more courses in order to make them more accessible to a global audience.

Is there anyone you would like to acknowledge?

All the members of the Open edX Project. Thanks to the Open edX team, we started gacco quickly. Additionally, this is the first time I have been involved with an open source community. This community makes me excited, and the experience has been great.

Written with Yasumasa Watanabe. Edited for content.