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Global Communications in a Graduate Course on Online Education at the University of Tsukuba - page 21 / 30





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I’d like to speak my impressions … Through this intensive course on online education I have found some new possibilities for Japanese students to learn English. First, online education can provide the participants with the opportunities of not only input but output. For example, chatting gives a good chance to improve writing skills, and teleconferencing is a good chance to improve fluency in speaking. The activities like these are really important for Japanese students because they have little chance to use English in their daily life. English is not a second language to the Japanese. Second, they can learn English at their own pace according to their own English level. Online education can become less threatening and more comfortable way of learning to some students than face-to-face situation. Generally speaking, Japanese who are learning English are not confident in their communication skills. And there are many Japanese who are shy. Online education can give them a good preparation for face-to-face communication.

A female student who did not need credit for the course nevertheless volunteered the following by e-mail on February 19, 2004:

according to this course, we can get appropriately materials from time to time by ‘virtual organization.’ … The [Japanese government-prescribed] course of study says that communicative competence is important if we live in Japan. Given that, this system does meet requirements presented for EFL education in Japan. Due to this course, I find that we can use online education to give learners a chance to communicate (or interact) as well as to develop their proficiency. … Especially, I enjoyed many practical tasks! So, I want to keep studying this [emphasis in original].

One of the mentors, Nicholas Bowskill at the University of Sheffield wrote the following on August 19, 2004:

For me it had echoes of the online mentoring activities [of WAOE; cf. <www.waoe.org/mentor>] in the way it assembled a group of distributed mentors for the temporary needs of another group/individual. … having a community of knowledgeable and willing volunteers we are able to be mutually supportive in ways that look beyond institutional boundaries. So, for me, the experience reconfirmed my belief in the power of a professional online learning community.

Indeed, what one instructor could accomplish was extended by networking among educators as well as by networked computers. Seeing the potential of ICT to link people as well as to overcome space and time, both lay people and educators will be motivated to become lifelong learners progressively empowered by online education.

Appendix 1: the course flyer

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