Education About Asia: Online Archives

Media Materials for Education About Japan and Asia

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The Earlham College Institute for  Education on Japan

The Earlham College Institute for Education on Japan was estab­lished in 1986 to provide ad­ministrative structure for the growing work of the College with K-12 educators, college faculty and students, and business and civic groups in need of information about Japan and other parts of Asia. The Institute and its affiliates provide resources, advice, and consulta­tion to a wide variety of groups and individuals. One of the affiliates, The Japan Study Program of the Great Lakes Colleges Association/Associated Colleges of the Midwest, serves as the resource agent for a faculty and student exchange program, organizes faculty development seminars, and provides liaison service for member colleges with institutions and individuals in Japan. The Institute pub­lishes a series of Occasional Papers which make current research in Japanese society and culture and a variety of teaching materials on Japan available to a diverse audience. These materials include essays on the economy of Japan, social relations, aesthetic and ethical values, the geogra­phy/geology of Japan, and Japan’s inter­national relations. A brochure listing the Papers may be obtained from the Institute, and the pamphlets are available for nominal cost.

For more than 25 years, Earlham has maintained a major lending library of media materials on Japan. Some of the films have Japanese language sound tracks. Others with an English track provide a visual record of Japan’s post­war development. Many introduce various facets of Japanese history and culture.

The Earlham Media Production Group (MPG)

With the emergence of video, computer, and CD-ROM technology in the late 80s and 90s, the College has pioneered in the development of new media resources for teaching about Japan. In 1991, the Media Production Group (MPG) was established as an affiliate of the Institute for Educa­tion on Japan with a working relationship with the National Institute of Multimedia Education in Chiba, Japan. MPG is a bi­national partnership that brings together media and Japan Studies professionals to produce and distribute media materials related to Japan and Asia. MPG is dedi­cated to producing first-quality television and video for teaching about Japan and its role in the world. A new series of half-hour broadcast programs has been designed called Japan: Resources for Understand­ing. Earlham College holds North Ameri­can broadcast rights and all non-broadcast distribution rights outside of Japan. The series is being broadcast on regional PBS outlets throughout the U.S. Five documen­taries have been completed, and a sixth on the development of agriculture in post-war Japan will be completed by the spring of 1996. One-half inch VHS videos of these programs are available from the In­stitute for $35 each plus $4 shipping and handling. Each program is accompanied by a study guide which contains viewing notes and essays by leading authorities, Japanese and American.

Japan: Resources for Understanding fills a gap in what is available for teach­ing about Japan. It focuses on the variety in contemporary Japanese life in contrast to the stereotypical presentations of Tokyo salary men as if they were all there is to understanding Japan. The MPG pro­gram Neighborhood Tokyo with its accom­panying study guide is being used in high school and college classes in conjunction with Theodore Bestor’s prize-winning book of the same name (Stanford Univ. Press, 1989). MPG’s two programs, As Iwate Goes: Is Politics Local? and As Iwate Goes: Is Culture Local?, are being similarly used with Jackson Bailey’s study of Tanohata: Ordinary People, Extraordi­nary Lives (Univ. of Hawaii Press, 1991).

A series of studio conversations with Japan Studies specialists called Voices of Experience is also available on 1/2″ VHS video. This series of nine includes a dis­cussion of urban life with Ted Bestor, author of Neighborhood Tokyo, Takie Lebra discussing her recently published study of Japanese nobility, Above the Clouds, William Kelly on regionalism in Japan, and, soon to be completed, Bob Smith and Ella Wiswell on Suye Mura and The Women of Suye Mura.

MPG has also produced teaching tapes to introduce traditional Japanese music and musical instruments. MPG’s Japanese Koto Music: Old and New has been selected by McGraw-Hill, Inc. for national distribution along with the new edition of its major text Music: An Appreciation. The 37 minute 1/2″ VHS tape is available from the Institute for Education on Japan for $35 plus $4 shipping and handling. A second teaching tape on Japanese vocal and instrumental music will be ready for distribution by the end of 1995.

MPG has arranged with Dr. John Nathan of the University of California, Santa Barbara, to reissue his acclaimed film trilogy The Japanese (Full Moon Lunch, The Blind Swordsman, and Farm Song) on 1/2″ VHS cassettes. These hour-long documentaries are available through the Earlham Institute for Education on Japan for $75 plus $4 shipping and handling. A brochure describing the MPG materials and services can be obtained from the Earlham Institute office.

The Earlham Center For Educational Media (CEM)

With the explosion of video and other media materials on Japan in the 1990s, the challenge has become, not to have and hold the materials in a single location, but to organize and make widely accessible, information about what is available, where to find it, and how to acquire it. To meet this need, in 1992 Earlham established the Center for Educational Media (CEM) as an affiliate of the Institute for Education on Japan. Funded by the Japan Founda­tion Center for Global Partnership, CEM was originally designed to be a database/ national clearinghouse for media materi­als related to Japan. In 1995-96 the scope of its work is being expanded to include materials on other parts of Asia. The ser­vices are accessible by phone, fax, regu­lar mail, and e-mail, and CEM is “on-line” on the Internet through its Home Page The e-mail address for CEM is

CEM publishes a twice yearly newslet­ter which is distributed free of charge in print form and is available as hypertext with computer on-line access. The news­letter contains information about new tech­nology and reviews of new or especially worthy media materials.

Two CEM initiatives are being designed to experiment with new media. An experi­mental, interactive CD-ROM is being developed, and we are designing a project to deal with the growing problem of how to keep up with the plethora of media material on Asia now being produced—some good, some bad, some indifferent.

The CD-ROM project, being developed cooperatively with the PBS affiliate KCTS-Seattle, will demonstrate the poten­tial of this medium to convert archived video material into a usable, accessible interactive form for teaching about Asia. Frankly experimental, this CD-ROM will sample the KCTS-NHK-Hawaii PBS archive from the weekly show Asia Now. Such video and film archives represent a significant resource for educators teach­ing about Asia. Problems of copyright and production costs represent serious chal­lenges. CEM and KCTS have joined to make this experimental interactive CD-ROM as a first-step in demonstrating the potential inherent in such archives for teachers and students, K-12 and in higher education. Inquiries about the CD-ROM should be addressed to CEM at Earlham College.

The other CEM initiative will establish a review service for media materials on Asia drawing on the interest and expertise of volunteer teachers/scholars who are actively teaching and doing research related to Asia. The challenge is enormous, but the need is widely felt, and CEM has been encouraged to make a start.

The CEM Asia Media Review Service will recruit a small group to begin review­ing new and standard media teaching materials on Asia in much the same way as Choice magazine provides its reviews of print materials for undergraduate librar­ies. Items will be procured from produc­ers/publishers in return for copies of the reviews. The reviews will then be accessed on-line and in print as a CEM service. The reviewer receives the item as a “reward” for doing the review. A cadre of volunteers is now being recruited. Those interested in working with the project should send a resume to CEM at Earlham College. We hope to have the first reviewers selected and the first reviews available in print and on-line in the spring of 1996.

A brochure describing CEM and its ser­vices is available from the CEM office.


The Asian Educational Resource Center and CEM

The Earlham Institute for Education on Japan, through its affiliate, the Center for Educational Media, has joined the Educa­tion Department of The Asia Society to help establish a coordinated web of data­bases which provide information and resources for teaching about Asia. In the spring of 1995, The Asia Society estab­lished the Asian Educational Resource Center (AERC), a three-part, five-year initiative designed to address nationally the need for information about Asia, and to integrate that work with ongoing local classroom work which too often is unrec­ognized and isolated. One part of the AERC, AskAsia, will be coordinating the integration of a web-site for existing databases. CEM has given leadership to the AskAsia initiative, demonstrating that, given the new technology, physical loca­tion in New York of such integrative, coordinating sites is not only uneconomi­cal, it is not necessary. The new media environment makes decentralization obvi­ous and more productive than the old way of centralization. This new initiative provides a “win-win” opportunity for all database operators. They can join the web without losing local control and initiative. The web becomes mutually supportive of the work of all of us, since in this coordi­nated effort, the respective home pages of each database point inquirers to other resources and databases, as well as open­ing up on-line access to our own. This structure will economize on the use of scarce funding resources by avoiding duplication of function and content while maximizing the spread of knowledge about the availability of a variety of resources. Out of it can come a produc­tive, non-threatening division of labor as we struggle to deal efficiently with the flood of information that deluges us. Information about the AskAsia Web can be obtained from the Education Depart­ment of The Asia Society in New York:

Telephone: 212-288-6400

fax: 212-517-8315 or

CEM at Earlham College

Telephone: 317-983-1288

fax: 317-983-1553


Teaching about Asia in K-12 and in higher education has become a necessity. Materials available are of mixed quality and spotty in coverage. Through its affili­ates, CEM and MPG, the Earlham Insti­tute for Education on Japan is glad to be able to join The Asia Society’s AERC to address these growing needs cooperatively at both the national level and at the class­room and grassroots levels.

The Earlham Institute and its affiliates, CEM and MPG, are delighted to be a part of this growing network of information and service providers associated with the AAS in its new publication, Education About Asia. We look forward to serving the needs of its readers.