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Global Communications in a Graduate Course on Online Education at the University of Tsukuba - page 1 / 30





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Global Communications in a Graduate Course on Online Education at the University of Tsukuba

by Steve McCarty Professor, Osaka Jogakuin College, Japan


The purpose of this article is to report a case where global communications were realized in a Japanese classroom. From February 16-20, 2004 the author taught an intensive course at the national University of Tsukuba Graduate School of Education entitled Online Education in Theory, Practice, and Applying the Internet to English Education. Preparations and technologies in particular that made a globalized classroom possible will be described. Annotated computer screen shots of password-protected virtual learning environments will also illustrate available technologies for international communication.

Synchronous and asynchronous (not real-time) Internet voice technologies (by Wimba and HorizonLive, which merged soon afterward), integrated into WebCT learning management systems in Australia and the U.S., were accessed by the instructor and students from a typical networked computer lab in Tsukuba, Japan’s Science City. Online education experts in the U.S., England, Malaysia and Brazil participated through the Internet as mentors, engaging the graduate students in audioconferences, chats and other forms of Web-based communication.

Aside from the course work described in the body of this article, the graduate students submitted a collective report in Japanese detailing the course activities and their impressions. The report in their native language, to be most authentic, is appended to this article (Appendix 3) along with the original illustrated flyer with a course description (Appendix 1). The report is also translated into English by the author in Appendix 2.

Substantive discussions of online pedagogy helped the students turn from skepticism about distance education to enthusiastic appreciation of online education. Although the real-time communications with mentors abroad in their target language was most impressive to the students, other keys resulting in the positive outcome could be discerned. Planning was necessary for Internet access throughout the course, with synchronous events involving various time zones. Having the instructor's screen always projected allowed students to easily experience new technologies. The cooperation of university staff, sustained collaboration with reliable online educators abroad, plus reliable networks and educational technologies were also vital.

Learning Management Systems and other digital technologies allow for much of the course to be preserved as research data. More can be shown to other educators, and more accountability is possible than with traditional face-to-face (f2f) courses. So in many ways including this report, the classroom has been opened to the world. Given pedagogies and technologies readily welcomed by the learners, a positive form of globalization is also assured. This article thus aims to show how certain practices of online pedagogy and educator networking make the globalized classroom already an accomplished fact.

As the course was both on online education and taught utilizing online education communication tools, the media reinforced the message. By contrast, a similar course was previously taught in a regular lecture format in the abstract, whereas hands-on experience is

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