Remote Education

Expanding the possibilities of education:
Combining digital means and paper to create a new style of learning

Summary of this article
  • Eisyunsha and Epson released a new service for creating educational worksheets
  • Paper and digital means are combined to support DX in the education field
  • Use of “remote education” and “study logs” will contribute to a new learning style

What becomes possible when we connect KAWASEMI Lite and Epson Connect?

To prepare for school entrance exams, it is essential for students to study past exam questions of the school they want to attend. When speaking of past exam questions, many people will think of “Akahon,” a compilation of entrance exam questions with an impressive red cover. Eisyunsha Ltd. (referred to below as Eisyunsha), which is based in Osaka, is a long-established publishing company that has been releasing these “Akahon” for more than 40 years. Every year, after entrance exams are over, the company edits the exam questions from about 400 schools, including junior and senior high schools, and publishes a new compilation of past exam questions for each school.

Eisyunsha and Seiko Epson Corporation (referred to below as Epson) are currently collaborating to release a new service in September 2021. This service connects Eisyunsha’s database of entrance exam questions, KAWASEMI Lite, with the Epson Connect API for remote printing. With KAWASEMI Lite, teachers can select the entrance exam questions registered in the database to create original worksheets. By connecting KAWASEMI Lite to Epson Connect, it will be possible to print out these materials remotely, not only from printers at private tutoring schools but also at the student’s home, while keeping a print log. What kind of possibilities will this new service bring to the education industry?

The Epson printer EW-M670FT at the Eisyunsha office
The Epson printer EW-M670FT at the Eisyunsha office

Working together to solve each other’s challenges in the two years since meeting

Motoaki Hara P Strategic Planning Department, Seiko Epson Corporation
Motoaki Hara P Strategic Planning Department, Seiko Epson Corporation

The first encounter between Eisyunsha and Epson was at the Educational IT Solutions Expo in 2019. Motoaki Hara, in charge of the education area in Epson’s P Strategic Planning Department, noticed Eisyunsha’s booth at the exhibition and exchanged business cards with Mr. Naozumi Kaneko of Eisyunsha’s Sales Department.

“We were looking for ways to use digital technology to support the education industry, which includes many of Epson’s customers. We met Mr. Kaneko of Eisyunsha when we visited the Educational IT Solutions Expo. At that time, I told Mr. Kaneko about Epson Connect’s Email Print and Scan to Cloud functions, and he was interested.” (Hara)

Since then, Eisyunsha and Epson have been in contact to solve challenges that existed on each side.

Eisyunsha was facing the issue of long passage questions used in exams for the Japanese language subject; these questions were excluded from KAWASEMI Lite despite strong needs at private tutoring schools. Due to the copyrights of the text, the company was concerned about releasing the PDF data to private tutoring schools and thereby allowing them to print it out freely. On hearing this, Epson proposed the use of Epson Connect. This service can send PDF data to printers so that worksheets are printed out directly, which would reduce the risk of the PDF data itself being disseminated. In addition, a print log shows where and how many copies were printed, so the user can keep count of the novels and articles that are being read from the long passage questions. This would be an excellent way to protect the rights and interests of copyright holders.

Epson was searching for a useful way to apply Epson Connect to services in the education field. Epson was able to move to the next step of developing such services by collaborating with a cram school with connections to Eisyunsha and conducting demonstration tests.

Proposing a learning style that successfully combines digital and conventional aspects

These days, the education industry is also going digital. Many education services now distribute tablets to students, and the students answer questions on-screen. Such learning materials are completely digital, but with KAWASEMI Lite, the questions are printed out on paper. Both Eisyunsha and Epson say that this service is appealing because it is not completely digital but also uses paper, adding just the right touch of conventional means.

Mr. Naozumi Kaneko Eisyunsha Ltd
Mr. Naozumi Kaneko Eisyunsha Ltd

“The process of making worksheets is very complicated for the teacher, as they have to select questions and format them. KAWASEMI Lite makes this easier by using digital methods. However, since entrance exams are conducted on paper, we believe that paper should be the final output in the education field. That’s why we thought it would be a good match to work with Epson, who is also very invested in the use of paper.” (Mr. Kaneko)

Some private tutoring schools seem to be reluctant to go completely digital. Mr. Kaneko speculates that this may be because they don’t yet know what kind of educational effects that digitalization will have.

“For example, when a math question is presented on a tablet, students often write the actual calculations in a notebook and then give the answer on-screen. If that’s the case, I think it’s essentially the same as our service, where the final output is on paper. Epson hopes to support the transition to the digitalization of print logs and collected answer data while also utilizing the advantages of paper.” (Hara)

New possibilities created with remote education and study logs

“KAWASEMI Lite (Epson Remote Print version),” provided in cooperation by the two companies, was released in September 2021. What kind of possibilities will the creation of this service bring to education in the future? The two keywords are “remote education” and “utilization of study logs.”

Remote education became possible with the remote printing function of Epson Connect. In the past, materials for distance learning were mailed by post, but if the materials are sent as output from a printer, it not only shortens the time spent waiting for the materials to arrive, but there is also no need for postage. In the future, remote printing may become the standard for distance learning.
“In the past, education was based on a style of teachers teaching students face-to-face. As a result, good teachers and private tutoring schools are inevitably concentrated in urban areas, which leads to a large difference in educational opportunities between urban and surrounding areas. Recently, however, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the increase of online classrooms, more and more private tutoring schools are offering education not only to students living nearby but also to those from all over the country and overseas. If we can include a system for providing learning materials via printers within this new education style, I believe that private tutoring schools will be able to provide high-quality education as digital distance learning to areas they previously could not reach.” (Hara)

遠隔教育と学習ログがもたらす新たな可能性

As another example of distant locations, there are many cases of Japanese expatriate families returning to Japan in time for their children’s junior high school entrance exams. Providing Japanese education to their children while they are overseas has been a source of concern for these families. However, with Epson Connect, worksheets can be delivered to children in Asia, the US, Europe, and even Africa as long as there is an Epson printer, expanding the possibility of studying for exams no matter where the students are.

Epson Connect also contributes to the “utilization of study logs.” It becomes easier to use entrance exam questions for worksheets if there is information about the level of difficulty and to what extent they can be utilized. The study log will show which questions are suitable for which standard score and how many students have solved them, making it possible to distinguish between “questions that are easy to use and questions that are difficult to use” in order to identify questions suited to students. The study log will be able to add value to the entrance exam questions.

“Even teachers at private tutoring schools have their strengths and weaknesses, such as ‘I’m good at preparing materials for the Japanese language subject, but I’m not good at math,’ and some have said that they don’t know how to use KAWASEMI Lite well. However, I believe that the accumulation of study logs will make it easier for teachers to utilize entrance exam questions.” (Mr. Kaneko)

Finally, Mr. Kaneko and Hara spoke of what kind of development they expect from this service.
“We handle entrance exam questions, but education is not all about entrance exams. That’s why it would be great if we could use Epson Connect as a hook to connect various education-related companies and bring new styles of education to the world. Our company would like to join this effort from the field of entrance exams.” (Mr. Kaneko)
“The study logs show that teachers at private tutoring schools and public schools work until very late hours. I hope our contributions will have positive effects that in the end will improve the workload of these teachers.” (Hara)

KAWASEMI Lite (Epson Remote Print version) is still at its starting line. As more and more people use it, new possibilities will become apparent. What kind of changes will the collaborative service of the two companies bring to the education industry in the future? Expectations are high for future developments.

*For more about Epson Connect: http://www.epsonconnect.com/

Interview: August 2021

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