Since 2001, the Corporate Research Group of Fuji Xerox has been organizing "JOHO-JUKU" (Information School). The JOHO-JUKU is not a regular computer school where students learn how to use software and the Internet, but rather a place where, as the name suggests, its focus is on "information," intended to teach students understand the basic concept of information, such as "What is information?" "How can information be used?" and "What is an information society like?" in a concrete and practical manner.
In the field of copying/printing documents, competition on added-value services in the world of "information and meaning" becomes more and more severe. Believing that it is our mission to convey to the future generation the knowledge that has been acquired in the domain of "information and meaning" at the Corporate Research Group of Fuji Xerox as "intellectual stimulus", we have started "JOHO-JUKU".
The Joho-Juku (Information School) is a short-term seminar in which first- and second-year junior high school students reflect on the essence of information. Each session is a one-day course. Held six times per year (three times each for first- and second-year junior high school students), each session accepts 10–15 students. Program content is intended to prompt students to consider information and its essence and nature by exploring specific course themes. Examples of themes include questions, activities, and topics like the following: (1) What is information? (a hands-on course); (2) creating a website; (3) a game on corporate management; (4) storytelling; (5) extemporaneous graphics presentations; and (6) generating ideas and formulating patents. These programs are led by specialists in each theme or area drawn from Fuji Xerox personnel or from outside.
The program covers a menu of issues related to information and the individual, including collecting, understanding, accumulating, managing, editing, and communicating information. The unique course content is intended to provide opportunities for learning about the fundamentals of information literacy in tandem with hands-on use of familiar devices such as digital cameras, mobile phones, and personal computers, as well as the Internet. Participating students report deep satisfaction with the course, despite parts that required hard work, while school teachers have shown strong interest in the course efforts and goals, which address topics that go well beyond using computers.
Today, many of the staff members who have helped students in these efforts are themselves former graduates of the Joho-Juku. All support staff, including university students, are volunteers. Students and staff primarily work independently to improve their own abilities, and the school is becoming increasingly autonomous. The staff has won high regard among parents and guardians who have observed the program. A typical comment: “I'm happy with the Joho-Juku graduate staff, and I hope this handoff from graduates to current students continues well into the future.”
To provide opportunities for even younger students to encounter and explore the information environment, an introductory course involving visits to elementary schools has been launched as part of the program.