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Global Communications in a Graduate Course on Online Education at the University of Tsukuba - page 2 / 30





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essential to empower the learners with information and communication technologies (ICT). While such a course could be taught at a distance, Japanese culture privileges face relationships and solidarity rituals of everyday f2f communication. Thus the fully hybrid format was most suitable: having the instructor there throughout the course, plus a constant Internet connection for each student and opportunities for authentic interaction with informants at a distance.

While vast e-learning research has been published, and learning management systems have been widely used in Western countries, there has been little attention to non-Western cultural and linguistic contexts where the universality of the online pedagogies and technologies might be tested. Therefore, rather than appealing to authorities on educational effectiveness, what may provide the most original and revealing data is the graduate students’ reflections, which show that the experience was empowering and that their learning was transformative.

WAOE home page: a non-profit organization registered in California; a virtual organization for online educator development and intercultural exchange; multilingual Websites starting at: http://waoe.org

Similar courses combining plural voice technologies and learning management systems with global involvement so intensively have scarcely been attempted in Japan and most parts of the world. The Tsukuba graduate students had hardly heard of online education before, although some of them were already schoolteachers returning for an advanced degree. Yet this report shows what is already possible through international networking among educators. The author could draw upon World Association for Online Education (WAOE) colleagues who have been collaborating reliably for continuing professional development since 1998, and WAOE has established a volunteer mentoring framework.

While Japan has the infrastructure of an advanced nation, it is rare for an English as a Foreign Language (EFL) course to be focused away from the English language itself, to include authentic encounters with mentors, to involve many countries, or for online education to be

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