What is Online School Exchange?

Online school exchange is interaction with overseas schools online. By using online meeting tools, etc., students can talk to other students while looking at each other and feel that they are in the same classroom despite being far away.

School exchange has many educational benefits, including promotion of international understanding and hands-on language learning. However, many schools have been forced to postpone such activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amid such circumstances, online school exchanges can help build excitement for in-person visits. An increasing number of schools are forging relationships in advance with schools they hope to visit overseas.

info Examples of Online School Exchange Program

record_voice_over 1. Presentations
Students give presentations on set themes such as social issues. They research themes and prepare materials, then use various applications and media to present their findings to the other students participating in the online exchange on the day. 
connect_without_contact 2. Discussions
Students exchange opinions on set themes. In order for things to go smoothly online, it is necessary to make adjustments to best suit the circumstances; for example, breaking up into small groups, etc.
home_work 3. Cultural Exchanges / Recent Status Report
Students casually exchange information on topics such as the country and region where they live, student life, their interests, and what has been happening around them.
queue_music 4. Recreation Activities
This program helps promote interaction through activities such as games, quizzes, musical performances, dance, etc. The key is to create activities that students can easily participate in regardless of language barriers.
palette 5. Joint Productions
This type of program involves students creating something together, such as a mural, monument, or website. Students gain a sense of unity and achievement by working towards a common goal.

For more information, see the online interaction examples.

Benefits of Online School Exchange

Next we will introduce the benefits of international exchange specific to online settings. By utilizing this system well, you can anticipate more meaningful in-person exchanges.

1 Students can build relationships before the actual visit

Many of the schools and students that participated in online exchanges have maintained their relationship after the program ended. By interacting online before actually visiting the school, it helps build anticipation and increase excitement for the in-person visit.

2 Even if the circumstances make it difficult to visit in-person, students can interact with students overseas

With the COVID-19 pandemic making it difficult to travel overseas, online school exchanges make it possible to interact with schools that were forced to suspend in-person exchanges, as well as create new opportunities for interaction. There are more and more cases of schools with students who get to know each other online before meeting in real life.

Key Points

Points to effective online school exchange and things to be careful of

Consider the time difference Time difference must be taken into consideration when interacting online with students in other locations. As such, the areas that you can do exchanges with are limited to a certain extent. If an exchange is difficult during class time, you can utilize after-school hours to broaden the target area.
Internet connection, devices and digital equipment In order to ensure a smooth and efficient exchange, you must have a good communication environment (Wi-Fi, etc.), and devices such as camera and microphones.
Preparing sufficient devices to suit the number of participants can be considered the first step to successful online exchange. It is also important to check in advance that all your devices are properly connected.
Preliminary meeting In order for the exchange itself to go smoothly, preliminary meetings to properly coordinate are essential. Because you will be interacting with a person in a far away location who speaks a different language, it would be better to not just communicate via email, but also video calls in order to achieve communication without hiccups. If necessary, please engage the services of an interpreter.
Time management on the day Online exchanges are usually shorter than in-person exchanges and typically range from 60 and 90 minutes. Thorough preparation, holding practice runs and strict time management on the day are therefore crucial.

Applying for Online School Exchange

If you have had an exchange with a Japanese school in the past or have already decided which region or school you would like to hold your exchange with, please contact the relevant section of the local government.

JNTO works with local governments, etc. to match Japanese schools for online school exchange. Please contact us if you decide to do an online exchange with a Japanese school and need assistance finding the right match.

FAQs and Tips

Who should I contact to request an online school exchange?
The below 27 local governments are the point of contact for an online school exchange. Please contact the local government of the region where the school you would like to hold an exchange with is located.
How long does it take for an online exchange to take place after making a request?
It depends on the school, but as a general rule we recommend making your request three months before you would like to hold the exchange.
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How long are the online exchanges?
It depends on the school, but they are usually shorter than in-person exchanges. According to a survey of local governments, they typically run for 60 to 90 minutes.
What types of online exchange programs are available?
There are many different types of programs depending on the school and the students’ ages. Read about some examples of the different programs available on our online guidance page.
What kind of video conferencing software is usually used for online school exchanges?
It depends on the school and in some cases, what is available in the school’s region or country. For more information, see the answers from a survey of local governments. These are a guide only, so please check with the school once the exchange has been confirmed.