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Global Communications in a Graduate Course on Online Education at the University of Tsukuba - page 24 / 30





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to our messages and enjoy the chat. To exchange views in this way with people afar in nearly real time would have been inconceivable before the development of the Internet. Of course when many people are participating there are limitations such as difficulty in finding needed messages, but in this case we found ways to avoid such problems. We also received the chat log file to go over again at our leisure. Compared to a BBS, chat has strengths and weaknesses, so it is difficult to say which is better. But both BBS and chat have good points, and contemporary junior and senior high school students would like this type of communication. It would provide a way to get accustomed to English while having fun. 11:30-12:20 After the chat there was a summation on chat and issues of using it in online education. We learned about using smilies such as :-) when joking. 13:30-17:00 Activities We went away from the computers, formed a circle and discussed the theme of “Global Online Education” [the instructor’s global survey results were passed out]. Ten circumstances surrounding online education were discussed in terms of 1) the situation in Japan, and 2) comparing other countries and discerning patterns in the data. The sources to think about (questionnaire results) were read aloud in turn, with Prof. McCarty adding explanations and clarifying vocabulary. The ten circumstances in respondents’ countries were a) the state of use of Virtual Learning Environments in education, b) online education widespread or confined to privileged sectors, c) extent of involvement by women, d) attitudes to globalization, e) societal factors impacting on online education, f) government and media attitudes, g) existence of virtual universities and schools, h) accreditation issues, i) students enrolling in online programs based in other countries, and j) obstacles to accessing online education. [For the complete questions, compiled responses (from mostly non-Western countries), and analysis of results, see McCarty, Ibrahim, Sedunov and Sharma (forthcoming)]. Impressions We had hardly heard of online education before this course, but this discussion provided a good opportunity to think about it. This takes nothing away from f2f education, of course, which is suitable especially for younger students. But online education has numerous strengths, so combining f2f with online education is certain to be much more effective. It was keenly felt that this should be a nationwide topic of discussion from now on.

2/18, Third Day. 9:00-11:30 Audioconference Seven of us students had a discussion with three practitioners of online education abroad. We first saw a presentation on our computer screens [utilizing HorizonLive, and demonstrating some of its features such as polls], then exchanged views on online education, mainly in the form of our questions being answered by the teachers. Subjects discussed were online education in concrete practice, its results and benefits, its conceivable problems and solution methods, and future possibilities of online education in Japan. Impressions This was a first experience of audioconferencing, and although approaching it nervously, one could shed timidity and exchange opinions, so it was extremely meaningful. For Japan at its current stage to introduce online education there are a number of problems that must be solved, but it should be examined for its potential as a future educational system. 13:00-14:00 Searching for References From Prof. McCarty’s home page we learned how to find some references useful for research, and other references were introduced. 14:10-17:00 Studying by BBS [the WebCT Discussion function]. Each of us students answered questions on the electronic bulletin board: 1) what online education is, 2) what e-learning is and how it differs from online education, 3) how distance education differs from online education, 4) the difference between f2f and offline, and 5) whether or not teleconferencing [such as the World Bank’s dedicated satellite-based system not using the Internet] is preferable to online education. With the technical terms in each question explained by Prof. McCarty, we gained a deep understanding of online education. While we answered and asked additional questions at our own pace, our examination of online education continued [see the next day for a follow-up on the questions. The brainstorming chart and

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