Populations declines in many areas of Japan are imperiling the survival of a lot smaller regional schools. Municipal governments in depopulated areas must endeavor to be able to cater to small numbers of students if they are to avert the great impact of closures on community life. Small schools without enough students for the same year sometimes instruct students from different streams in the same classrooms, making it challenging to maintain the educational quality. Another issue is that students in communities with small schools tend to have few neighborhood friends, limiting their exposure to diverse opinions. Students may also find it hard to communicate in a large group and shy away from sharing their thoughts.
Ricoh's distance learning solutions package, comprising the RICOH Unified Communication System, RICOH Interactive Whiteboard, and projectors, makes it possible to offer remote learning that brings together two or more classes in the same year from different schools. Such a setup increases opportunities for students to encounter diverse views from peers. In recent years, elementary schools and other educational institutions in Japan have begun incorporating active learning in curriculums, and remote classrooms can also take advantage of such techniques to foster self-expression based on student feelings and experiences.