General and Deployment Area

To discuss generals and deployment not listed above.

School on the Internet (SOI)

  • Theme : SOI (School on the Internet) Project explores what the new higher education based on the Internet should be. With sights set on the establishment of environments where anyone in the world who has a will to study will be able to enjoy hi-quality university-level education "anytime and anywhere", the SOI project is bringing into reality university-level education on the Internet, while conducting research activities through field experiments.
  • Chair : Keiko Okawa, Shoko Mikawa
  • Home Page : http://www.soi.wide.ad.jp/
  • Started : 2002/12/04

This group focuses on using the Internet to provide an educational environment, and was therefore launched with the aim of making it possible for anyone, anywhere to have access to the most advanced instruction at any time of the day or night. This group is helping to map out the shape of future Internet-based universities, and is involved in research in parallel with verification testing.

As of March 2002, over 9,000 people (over half of them adults) have enrolled in the SOI as students, and collectively clocked up a cumulative total of 1,100 hours of remote lessons in the course of their independent studies.

Launched in 1997, the SOI Working Group held lessons taught jointly by lecturers in Japan and the U.S. in 1998. In 2000, it began providing on-demand lessons and also real-time lessons on an experimental basis. FY2001 saw the launch of the SOI Studio Project, aimed at setting up next-generation remote studios and building a system allowing lectures to be delivered at any time using digital video-quality images. Since October 2001, experimental lessons have been carried out using studios set up in the U.S. states of Maryland and California.

The SOI-Asia Project is tackling the challenge of broadcasting lectures using satellites. Its ultimate aim is to help solve the problem of disparities in the level of education among students and the shortage of lecturers in the Asian countries, by making it possible for lectures tailored to the audiences of those countries to be freely disseminated and archived using the Internet. The first experimental lectures were broadcast in Malaysia in 2001. January 2002 saw the start of real-time and archive lectures also broadcast to a total of six universities in Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and Indonesia.


The WIDE Project's School on the Internet (SOI) Working Group has been active since September 1997. Its avowed aim is to use digital communications as a platform on which to make opportunities for advanced education and research available, without conventional restrictions or national frontiers, to anyone, anywhere in the world, who wants to learn.

In October 1997, the SOI became operational, and began addressing itself to the various challenges of finding out how to be a university environment using digital technology in combination with an Internet platform based at Keio University and a number of other universities.

All sorts of university education resources can now be digitized and made available beyond the classroom/campus framework, thanks to the global digital information platform that is the Internet. The SOI aims to make use of this fact to offer a diverse and unrestricted learning environment to any individual who wants to learn. Verification testing is now in progress.

As of March 2002, over 9,000 people (more than half of them adults) had enrolled as students with SOI, and the institution's archived lectures?some 1,100 hours' worth?were being used for their studies.

Achievements so far

Launched in 1997, the SOI Working Group has focused on building a global educational environment. Its first Japan-U.S. multi-location lecture was held in 1998. With the cooperation of multiple universities, including the University of Tokyo, the Nara Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST), and Keio University, it has also staged high-quality experimental two-way lectures using wide-area IPv6 multicasting and other new-generation Internet technologies. In 2000, it began experimenting with real-time lectures in addition to on-demand lectures.

In April 2001, the SOI-Asia Project was launched. Many parts of Asia consist of islands, which are difficult to link to the Internet with cable. By using satellite Internet links instead, the Project has created a comparatively wide-area Internet platform covering these areas. By using this platform to transmit lectures in real time and to make lectures from the archives SOI has already amassed available for transmission on demand, SOI-Asia aims to address the problem of Asia's shortage of academic staff and to help tackle disparities in the educational level of the Asian populaces. Receiving financial backing from Japan's Ministry of Economy and Industry, the Communications Research Laboratory (CRL) and JSAT Corporation, the SOI-Asia Project is working in cooperation with the Asia-SEED Institute, the Asian Internet Interconnection Initiatives (AI3) Project, and the Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (JAIST) Hokuriku.

October 2001 saw the launch of the SOI Studio Project, whose goals are to set up next-generation studios and create a system enabling lectures with digital-video quality visuals to be made readily available. Studios were set up in the U.S. states of Maryland and California, and a program of experimental lectures was launched. The aim is to make both studios easily accessible to any university connected to Japan's high-speed IPv6 network, using the Abilene Internet2 network in the U.S., the high-speed Japan-U.S. network, and the WIDE Backbone in Japan. At present, plans are to transmit the lectures to Japan only, but in the future the system will be developed to the point where it can be used as the shared property of the educational institutions of the world. The ultimate aim is to make a real contribution to the creation of a global educational infrastructure.

This project is being realized with the support of the Telecommunications Advancement Organization of Japan (TAO) and the Communications Research Laboratory (CRL) (a Japanese national institute), and with the cooperation of NTT Communications, NTT Multimedia Communications Laboratories, the U.S. and Fujitsu Laboratories of America.

The functions of the SOI

The SOI has the following functions:
1. Authenticating enrolment and student identity, and registering course completion
2. Archiving and disseminating lectures
3. Having students submit dissertations
4. Operating a copyright system
5. Providing faculty support
6. Evaluating lectures
7. Staging remote lectures and seminars
8. Responding to questions from students, and facilitating communication between students
9. Making information available for reference

  1. Authenticating enrolment and student identity, and registering course completion
    Enrolment and course completion are registered on the Web. Anyone who wishes to do so may register and complete a course as long as they have the following:
    (1) A current e-mail address and the facilities needed to communicate by e-mail;
    (2) Access to the Web.
    Each student's identity is authenticated using a password, and student identification tests are also carried out using digital signatures.
  2. Archiving and disseminating lectures
    SOI lectures are archived in digital form. Students access lectures over the Internet in the form of lecture notes in HTML, combined with video, audio and images in RealVideo format, as required. Questions about the lectures can be submitted and answered by mailing-list, bulletin-board service (BBS), or Internet Relay Chat (IRC). The SOI archives currently comprise 34 university lectures and 81 special courses staged at the Internet Week conference, adding a total of some 1,100 hours.
  3. Having students submit dissertations
    Dissertations submitted by students are regarded as part of the knowledge amassed by the university, and as such, they are actively released on the Web. Students can access one another's released dissertations, and submit comments.
  4. Operating a copyright system
    Since the fall 2000 semester, SOI has been formulating a system whereby lecture notes and dissertations can be submitted for publication, with copyright-related conditions of use stipulated by the author. The purpose of this system is not to restrict the use of lecture notes or submitted dissertations, but to make copyright material freely and readily available for use using methods that do not contravene the wishes of the copyright holder.
  5. Providing faculty support
    Faculty support consists of developing and operating software for tracking whether students have handed in their dissertations, and tools for online management of marking, notification systems and so forth. It also covers systems for controlling lesson materials in PowerPoint, PDF and other formats, sorting documents for students from documents for lecturers, and the lecture evaluation system touched on in the following paragraph.
  6. Lecture evaluation
    Faculties are free to obtain feedback on lectures by asking students to complete anonymous questionnaires, the results of which are all published. This helps to improve and enhance course content.
  7. Staging remote lectures and seminars
    In addition to the on-demand transmission of lectures mentioned above, SOI is developing technology to enable lectures and seminars to take place in real time.
    Experiments have already been held in which lectures took place in real time, linking a number of universities. In the 2000 spring semester, a joint lecture was held by three lecturers at Keio University and Waseda University. In the fall semester of the same year, an experimental lecture was held jointly by the University of Tokyo, NAIST and Keio University, with three lecturers, one at each location, each delivering a lecture on their own special subject. This year, SOI is experimenting with real-time discussions linking three different campuses at Keio University: Shonan Fujisawa Campus (SFC), Keio Business School (KBS) at Hiyoshi, and the Global Security Research Center (G-SEC) at Mita.
    In the 2001 spring semester, SOI, in cooperation with the Japanese Associate Degree (JAD) Program, launched an experimental distance learning program for Malaysian students planning to study at Japanese universities. Using a combination of on-demand and real-time remote lectures, this program is allowing students in Malaysia to "attend" lectures in Japan.

Experiments and activities planned for the future

The technologies enabling the School on the Internet to fulfill its functions are now under development. The next step is to create the set of tools needed to set up a system allowing the SOI facilities to be made available on an even wider scale. In this future scenario, it will be possible for remote lectures to be set up and carried out by smaller "units" consisting of individual lecturers or departments, and these smaller units can join forces to use the SOI facilities even more effectively.

Inquiries: soi@sfc.wide.ad.jp , http://www.soi.wide.ad.jp

  • NSPIXPリンク
  • SOIリンク
  • AIIIリンク
WIDE Award