Tateshina Workshop @Tokyo

On a cool afternoon after the rain, I climbed the hill of Edogawabashi and arrived at the AISF Hall. Unlike usual years, this year's workshop was carried out not in Tateshina, but in Tokyo for half a day on July 4th because of COVID-19. The AISF staff welcomed me when I went to the second floor. I was relieved that the participants who joined in person as well as those who joined via Zoom were safe.

The theme of the workshop, "the Possibilities and Limits of Remote Education" was easy for the participants to empathize with given that classes and seminars of graduate schools had been moved on-line. Dr. Sim Choon Kiat, who is an Associate Professor at Showa Women's University and specializes in education, gave a talk presenting issues for the workshop utilizing his experiences and examples from the field of education. The methods of remote education can be divided into three types: simultaneous bidirectional type (interact in real time), on-demand type (provide video with audio, lecture materials, PPT), and assignment submission type (students upload homework by uploading lecture materials to the internet). Dr. Sim introduced the effect of on-line education and the reactions of students in an interesting manner. Also, participants who are teaching on-line shared their experiences.

Dr. Sim also presented us with a current social situation that we, who are writing our doctoral dissertations, did not realize. Though on-line classes may have been easy to spread in the universities, it is not spread widely in the elementary, junior high, or high schools in Japan. The reason for this is the awareness of economic disparity and the difficulty of assuring equal access for all students. Dr. Mya Dwi Rostika indicated that on-line classes were widely spread in Indonesia. Dr. Magdalena Kolodziej discussed her impressions that she sensed a disparity depending on whether the students' screen view of real-time interactions froze or not. We, coming from several different countries, deepened our understanding about Japanese and international social situations through these exchanges of opinion. Though the word "study abroad on-line" is not familiar to us, it has started to become realized in some countries where IT technologies are developed.

The next session was group work. With the 4 facilitators we thought about how we could teach high school students on-line with themes including each member's specialized field. The proposal by Dr. Sim, "Let's fight together with fun!" made us all laugh. When we started to discuss, however, various opinions came up and we worried about what the thread connecting our thoughts might be. We were in intense discussion until the very last second and when time was up we returned to the hall for a presentation like a storm had just passed.

The presentations were based on the themes of "events with on-line classes", "the importance of expression", "plagiarism", "the coexistence of science and human beings", I was impressed when I listened to the other participants' presentations because they made use of their expertise to make their explanations more convincing. The discussion on how using various tools, scientific technologies, and methods to present issues will lead to more fulfilling class content as well as provide possibilities to break-through the limits of time, space, and the body was very interesting for me. I was also very impressed by the discussion that remote education was positive for students who were sick or had some physical disabilities, or who lived in areas where transportation was inconvenient. I think that issues in which we are interested such as the connections of words, historical understandings, equalities on gender topics, understandings of different cultures, and the interactions of policies toward COVID-19 can be discussed even through remote education.

The social gathering after the workshop was optional. Tasty boxed meals and fruits were provided for each person, which we enjoyed while maintaining social distance. We shared the impressions of the half-day workshop and our seniors' experiences of job hunting. It'd been a while since I had a pleasant talk in a lively atmosphere.

Wu Ching Wen

Translated by Aya Miyake
English checked by Sonja Dale

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