Yamada Laboratory, Kyushu University

Another tough year 2021 is coming to an end!


Have you celebrated the New Year in Japan already? Or not yet? It was another tough year. I thought Covid-19 would settle down, but a new model came out again, and it showed no sign of chill-out. I think it was also a year of many changes in our daily lives because of Covid. For me personally, I was able to take my first sabbatical since I started this career, and it is a major event in my life to be doing research at the University of Michigan in the United States. This is my first time living abroad, so I am at a loss for many things. I am getting used to it little by little, but by the time I get used to it, I will be back to Japan. I received a whole year for this sabbatical, and I had tried not to be too conscious of it, but there is no more year left. I have only 8 months left…I will try to produce good research results.

As for my research achievements…looking back at my blog of the end of December 2020, last year I had 3 papers (co-authored) (all in international journals, one of them in SSCI), 18 international conferences (one of them won the Best Paper Award), and one book chapter.

This year…1 paper (co-authored) in a domestic English journal, 5 international conferences, and 2 book chapters (they will be published soon. The editor of the journal explained so to me, and the publisher’s page said the year of publication would be 2021). They are a little disappointing as the outcomes of the year. The members of my laboratory did their best, but One student was in the midst of a full-fledged examination for her doctoral degree, and I was naturally focusing on that as my top priority, so I was not able to produce any results. I also found that although it has some benefits that international conferences are held online, the time difference during the conference period is quite severe, which is a physical burden in a different sense from traveling to the conference. I think this may have reduced my motivation to contribute to international conferences. I think it is convenient, but if it were held on a weekday, master’s students would have classes and doctoral students would have part-time jobs such as RAs and TAs, which would be very hard on them. The conference organizers are very considerate of the time difference in terms of presentation times, but when it comes to the research I want to see, I often have to fight jet lag. I think it is important to participate face-to-face and feel the enthusiasm of the presenters directly through their eyes, ears, and stories, as I think about it from my experience. I hope the Corona disaster will soon be over.

Most of all, though, there have been some major events in my career. Of course, There was a sabbatical, but the most important one for me is that I have reached the point where I can offer a PhD degree as the university researcher. In fact, it will be awarded on December 31st exactly. It has been about 13 years since I started this career (since my PhD) and finally I will have the first PhD student. I am really thrilled about this. I am finally able to have a PhD student. I think this is a major milestone for me. I have two more doctoral students, and I will continue to provide guidance to those students and do my best to help them achieve their doctoral degrees.

This year will be the final year of the AIP Accelerated Research project led by Dr. Shimada, and the development and evaluation of the Learning Analytics infrastructure will also be a milestone. We have received a Plus-DX budget from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) to develop a learning analytics infrastructure, and we are now entering a phase in which we will deploy our research findings on this infrastructure and expand the knowledge of our past learning analytics research. We will start actual operation next year, so I think this is a big move. I think this is the result of the involvement of not only researchers in information technology and intelligence informatics, but also in educational technology and other fields, in learning analytics research, and I think it is a great achievement. I don’t think either of them alone would have been able to achieve this level of success.

As for my own research, I have been awarded two scientific research grants for the next phase. One is for challenging research (pioneering research) and the other is for the International Collaborative Research Fund B. I never thought that both of them would be approved… Especially the former is said to have a single-digit acceptance rate, so I thought it would be very difficult. The former is for the development of educational data literacy and the development and evaluation of learning analytics infrastructure related to it. The “The development of educational data literacy” is particularly important. We would like to examine this educational data literacy not only from the viewpoint of learning analytics, but also from the viewpoint of educational philosophy and sociology of education, and discuss the preconditions for achieving effective results in ICT-based education, which is expected to accelerate in the future. In the International Collaborative Research Fund B, we are collaborating with Dr. Stephanie Teasley of the School of Informatics at the University of Michigan, who is currently accepting me, and this is with a view to dashboard development. We are currently analyzing data that will serve as the basis for various design studies, and we hope to turn this into a research achievement. Based on that data, I would like to work on research related to dashboard design and development. Both of these are seeds that will grow in the future, and I would like to conduct research on them so that they will grow in the coming year.

We have many events coming up next year, and I would like to take them one by one. I would like to conduct major research and make efforts one by one to contribute to the improvement of the education and learning environment.