Converting from Tech-centered to Human-centered Development


From Jun. 1 to Jun. 7, I had a business trip to G (name withheld) Prefecture. One of the biggest Japanese telecom company X (name withheld) had to investigate how much elder people in rural area are familiar with smartphone and their application service.

The research team of the company X was interested in my research, Naturalistic Decision Making (NDM). They asked me to join this project as a Visiting Researcher.

It was my first time to stay in G Prefecture. Soon after coming here from Tokyo, I had a little bit culture shock. Unlike Tokyo, there are few grocery stores (Japanese often call them 'convenient stores'). To go to more remote areas, we had to wait for local train every 30 minutes.

However, the most surprising thing was 'less number of children and young people and more elder people'. Japan is becoming so-called aging society. Low birth rate is also a societal issue, too.

It means not only that Japan is losing its workforce but that more people cannot catch up with the speed of technological development. It's true some elder people possess their smartphones and can download new application, but only 2 to 3 people above age 70 possess smartphone.

Therefore, even though the company X develops new technological devices and applications, more elder Japanese across the country may not be utilize them. The common claims from elder people (research participants) was 'the device and application were too much complicated'. They expected much simpler ones....

Based on the data, the Company X seemed to realize that they should be aware of 'Human-centered technological development' but 'Technology-centered development'. This is the biggest lesson from elder people in G Prefecture. Indeed, this experience in G Prefecture was truly meaningful for me.

The lesson in G Prefecture holds true for educational services at school and consulting company like Sky Business.

For instance, we educators develop new programs and curricula for the learners. However, in some cases, we tend to overlook what our students really expect, how they would like to study, and their present level. Otherwise, the students don't follow the instruction from the instructor.

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