The current status and future prospects for natural science education in the Open University of Japan

Jun-ichiro Kishine
The Open University of Japan

Chiba, Japan

People who wish to proactively learn science and technology can be categorized into three groups. In the first group, their day-to-day work is not directly related to science, but they hope to understand science and technology from their own viewpoints. The second group consists of people who are engaged in science education as school teachers or local science museum staff and they want to acquire a bird's-eye view of science and technology at a higher level to strengthen their educational ability and competence. Finally, in the third group are professionals who are engaged in research and development as engineers in industry. This last group feels an urgent need to learn not only engineering skills, but also acquire a 'working knowledge' of fundamental physical laws in order to find a way out of the technological difficulties they are facing.

Nowadays, advanced technology is becoming a huge complex of fragmented elements and, consequently, it is becoming more and more difficult to learn scientific and technological developments in a systematic way. However, people seriously want to grapple with what's going on in reality in the forefronts of science and technology, because these products inevitably affect their daily lives whether they like it or not. Rapid change in the socioeconomic situation also gives an impetus to students to seek scientific knowledge.

At the Open University of Japan, faculty members are making efforts to respond to social demands from a large variety of students. In this presentation, based on some case studies and past data, we report the present status and future prospects for science educations in the Open University of Japan.