Qualcomm Incorporated, through its Wireless Reach™ initiative, and Renaissance Academy Incorporated, a private correspondence high school in Daigo-cho, Ibaraki, today announced the launch of the 3G Smartphone x Digital Textbook project to help high school dropouts, habitual absentees and students seeking vocational training earn diplomas.
In Japan, the unemployment rate for high school dropouts is significantly higher than the average, and even for those who are employed, full-time employment is relatively low. The high unemployment and part-time employment levels for dropout’s places a strain on Japan’s social welfare system, and the government is working to implement measures to aid high school dropouts attain jobs.
Meanwhile, many Japanese high school students are dissatisfied with the inflexible, uniform content of their education and often suffer from loss of motivation, though this may not be as apparent because these students continue to attend school. According to the Renaissance Academy, the desire to learn the traditional curriculum among Japanese high school students is among the lowest in the world, and an increasing number of students each year express their desire to focus on study areas that are of personal interest or a potential profession. Supporting such students is an important responsibility for a private correspondence high school like the Renaissance Academy.
The Renaissance Academy provides opportunities in specialized and vocational training for aspiring professionals and a second chance for high school absentees and dropouts. At the Renaissance Academy, the majority of students spend their day participating in professional training or studying outside of the classroom. In addition, most work part-time and lead highly mobile lives, leaving limited opportunity to study their textbooks while at home, so they benefit from the ability to access their coursework no matter the location.
With a grant from Qualcomm’s Wireless Reach initiative, the 3G Smartphone x Digital Textbook project will provide 500 smartphones, mobile educational content and 3G wireless connectivity to Renaissance Academy students. The students will use Snapdragon® processor-enabled smartphones to access educational content and resources through a 3G wireless network. Students also will be able to download educational applications and take lessons or tests anytime and anywhere using their smartphones.
Offering smartphone-based courses is expected to help increase the rate of students completing programs while staying interested in learning. Having ubiquitous access to educational materials gives students an opportunity to study, catch up with lessons and take tests outside the hours of a typical school day. This flexibility is expected to help students maintain their motivation for learning as they work toward attaining the diploma they need to obtain steady jobs.
Renaissance Academy’s goal is to have as many students as possible receive a high school education and earn a diploma. This project marks the school’s first time offering a smartphone-based course for credit. Renaissance Academy developed an Android-based, English language learning application that is designed to facilitate the learning of sentence patterns, vocabulary and reading comprehension. The Academy plans to expand the curriculum to include science and social studies.
“Thanks to Qualcomm’s contribution, we have become a pioneer in providing our students with smartphones that will become an important study tool. In the near future, smartphones and digital textbooks are likely to become the norm. They are an ideal and effective tool for learning for students who have a diverse range of abilities, aptitudes, aspirations and lifestyles,” said Takayoshi Momoi, president of Renaissance Academy Incorporated.
Takayoshi Momoi also noted,“Renaissance Academy’s role is to develop superior educational content for these smartphones. We are starting with English course content, but we would like to work on enabling effective, enjoyable studying in a variety of subjects using smartphones. I firmly believe that this project will make a major contribution to education in Japan and on behalf of our students, I would like to thank Qualcomm for enabling students to benefit from this experience.”
“We are honored to be partnering with the Renaissance Academy to demonstrate the effectiveness of smartphones and digital textbooks in learning,” said Jun Yamada, senior vice president and president for Qualcomm Japan. “3G wireless technologies offer new channels for communicating with students and opportunities to dramatically improve learning. This project is a clear example of how mobile broadband can be utilized to give aspiring professionals a head start, get habitual absentees and dropouts re-engaged in learning and help them obtain a high school education and diploma, which are essential assets in life.”
“In Japan, the need for digitization of education has been discussed for a long time and the government has just begun to focus on introducing digital textbooks,” said Dr. Nakamura, professor for the Graduate School of Media Design at Keio University. “It is significant that the private sector is taking the initiative in this project to advance anywhere anytime learning. I expect that a new learning model will be created in Japan, a world leader in the use of mobile by youth, and that students with an array of different backgrounds will be able to expand the opportunities in their lives.”
About Renaissance Academy
Renaissance Academy (r-ac.jp) is a private correspondence high school founded in April 2006 in Daigo-cho, Ibaraki, a government-approved Special Zone for Education. The school provides both classroom and online lessons to students via PCs and cellular phones and currently rolls about 2,200 students. The purpose of Renaissance Academy is to increase the diversity of educational opportunities, providing a second chance for students who were habitually absent from high school or dropped out, as well as students who wish to utilize their free time effectively. Eighty percent of Renaissance Academy students are aged 16-19, and twenty percent are adults in their 20s who have day-time jobs.
About Qualcomm and its Wireless Reach Initiative
Qualcomm believes access to 3G and next-generation mobile technologies can improve people’s lives. Qualcomm’s Wireless Reach initiative (qualcomm.com/wirelessreach) is a strategic program that brings wireless technology to underserved communities globally. By working with partners, Wireless Reach invests in projects that foster entrepreneurship, aid in public safety, enhance the delivery of health care, enrich teaching and learning and improve environmental sustainability.
Qualcomm Incorporated (qualcomm.com) is the world leader in 3G and next-generation mobile technologies. For more than 25 years, Qualcomm ideas and inventions have driven the evolution of wireless communications, connecting people more closely to information, entertainment and each other. Today, Qualcomm technologies are powering the convergence of mobile communications and consumer electronics, making wireless devices and services more personal, affordable and accessible to people everywhere.
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Warren Kneeshaw, Investor Relations
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