News FY 2017

Visit from AAOU and Athabasca University

On February 19th 2018, the delegation consisting of three institutional members from Asian Association of Open Universities (AAOU), namely University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU), the Open University of Hong Kong and Gauhati University in India visited OUJ.

During the same period, Prof. Mohamed Ally of Athabasca University (AU) in Canada, which we renewed the collaborative agreement with last year, visited Japan. The purpose of his visit was to be familiar with the present situation of the distance education in Japan and also to explore the possibility to undertake cooperative research between AU and OUJ.

The main purpose of AAOU delegation's visit was to attend the production meeting of Asian MOOCs Steering Committee which was hosted by OUJ from Feb. 20th to 22nd. On the preceding day of the meeting, the AAOU delegation represented by Prof. Melinda dP. Bandalaria, the President of AAOU and the Chancellor of UPOU, along with Prof. Ally were invited to the lunch meeting by President Kisugi of OUJ, and to be the speakers for OUJ international seminar. Each made a presentation in regard to the ICT learning methods at his/her university.

On the last day of the three-day MOOC meeting, they visited Gunma Study Center, and were welcomed by Director Onozato and the local students. Not only through the courtesy visit and the facility tour, but also through face to face communication with the OUJ students, we believe that they had deepened their understanding about our university.

Prof. Ally had energetically spent his days until Feb. 25th having a facility tour, an overview guidance at the OUJ Headquarters, as well as Kyoto Study Center, and visiting Center for the Promotion of Excellence in Higher Education of Kyoto University.

We would like to take this occasion for the successful development of AAOU Asian MOOCs and also for more concrete progress on the cooperative research with AU.

Researcher of CNRS from France visited OUJ

Dr. Jean-François Sabouret from National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) visited OUJ on February 2, 2018. CNRS, which was established in 1939, is a public organization of the French Ministry of Education and Research. Dr. Sabouret's field of study is Japanese-French comparison of education and society.

After the General Affairs Section introduced the overview of OUJ, Dr. Sabouret paid a courtesy call on President Shin Kisugi and Vice President Tatsuhiko Ikeda. After lunch break, he observed the facilities of TV program shooting studio, the master control room, the OUJ Library and Chiba Study Center. Using his high command of Japanese language to communicate with the academic and administrative staffs, Dr. Sabouret showed great interest in the process of how the broadcast lectures were produced and how they were delivered to our students.

INATEC from Republic of Nicaragua delegation visited OUJ

On December 19th 2017, OUJ welcomed two delegates from the National Technological Institute (INATEC) of Republic of Nicaragua. This visit was a part of the study and training program for managers conducted by JICA, in order to enhance technological capabilities on Nicaraguan digital learning materials, and was realized by their strong request to see OUJ as the distance and higher education institution representing Japan, and how we produce broadcasting programs and learning materials.

Mr. Jin, the Deputy Head of General Affairs Section introduced the overview of OUJ to the delegates, followed by Mr. Adachi, Deputy Director of Department of Production who made a presentation on the production processes of broadcasting programs and cooperation of the production staffs and the faculty.

After the introductions of OUJ, there was a lively discussion over the topics such as the implementation of examinations, communication with students, faculty training, development of learning materials and quality assurances and so forth.

At the end, the delegates took a facility tour of our TV studios with a master control room, the library and Chiba Study Center and concluded the visit.

The 27th ICDE World Conference (ICDE2017) in Toronto, Canada

Co-hosted by ICDE and Contact North (Ontario's Distance Education and Training Network created by the Government of Ontario), the 27th ICDE World Conference was held at Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel in Toronto, Ontario, Canada from 16th to 19th October 2017. From OUJ, Vice President Prof. Tatsuhiko Ikeda, Direcor of OUJ Library Prof. Masaya Iwanaga, Prof. Tsuneo Yamada and Deputy Divison Head of General Affairs Division Mr. Kenjiro Jin participated the conference.

The main theme was "Teaching in a Digital Age - Re-thinking Teaching & Learning" that came along with five tracks highlighting the key areas related to open online and flexible learning. Approximately 1,480 delegations from 95 countries, the largest attendance ever participated in plenaries and sessions.

Professor Iwanaga

Professor Yamada

Prof. Iwanaga presented his paper with the title, "Re-designing Institutional Business and Management at OUJ". He introduced OUJ's business and management model for the next decade that aims to enhance the production efficiency of learning materials with the goal to accommodate OUJ's financial needs and demands of the students.

In the presentation titled, "Implementation of learning analytics environment for MOOCs and SPOCs at a HE/LLL institution", Prof. Yamada explained the current situation of MOOC and SPOC courses related to OUJ and introduced OUJ's efforts of learning analytics that is critical for assuring the quality of those courses.

The next ICDE world conference will be hosted by Dublin City University, Ireland in 2019.

OUJ delegation made a site visit at Athabasca University and renewed the collaborative agreement

From October 12th to 13th, OUJ delegation consisting of Director of the Library, Masaya Iwanaga, Prof. Tsuneo Yamada and Deputy Division Head of General Affairs Division, Kenjiro Jin visited Athabasca University (AU) located in Alberta, Canada, for the purposes of learning AU's institutional sysytem and online courses, and the renewal of the existing collaborative agreement between the two institutions.

AU is a public university established in 1970 as a traditional campus-based institution originally and changed itself into an open and distance university in 1972. It provides more than 850 online courses and a small number of face-to-face classes for approx. 40,000 students worldwide.
The relationship between OUJ and AU started when the first collaborative agreement was concluded in 1992. Having the opportunity to renew the agreement this time, it is expected that the connection between the two institutions will grow further through academic research and educational cooperation in the near future ahead.

In the morning of October 12th, OUJ delegation visited the Edmonton satellite campus and was given a warm greeting from Vice President Rick Harland, followed by the presentations to provide an overview of OUJ to AU members. Along with AU's philosophy to provide the opportunity for anybody "to study from wherever and whenever you happens to be", various practices and challenges being implemented at AU were introduced to OUJ members. After the lively one-day discussions, OUJ delegation was invited to the welcome dinner and had an enjoyable and fruitful time toward our mutual exchanges in the near future.

On the following day, OUJ delegation headed for the headquarters of AU. After the facility tour of the university building, AU members began their presentations for the delegation in terms of student recruitment, student assessment and library services and so forth. It was reported that at AU Information Center, which is equivalent to OUJ's Student Support Center, receives considerable phone calls and emails from citizens and AU students on a daily basis and the staffs are trying hard to understand and grasp what are really required within a short telephone conversation with those people, and the same is true of OUJ's case. AU started to give orientations and Q & A for potential students using webinar system on trial, and are increasing the number for positive responses.

OUJ delegation returned to Edmonton for the signing ceremony of the collaborative agreement with AU President Neil Fassina. On behalf of President Kisugi, Prof. Iwanaga attended the ceremony and it was successfully completed with a handshake.

OUJ would like to express our deepest gratitude for the heartwarming hospitality our delegation were given during their stay in Edmonton and Athabasca. The visit to AU this time means a lot to our university and we hope for the closer and active relationship of the two open universities from now on.

The 31st AAOU Annual Conference in Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Hosted by Terbuka University, the 31st Annual Conference of Asian Association of Open Universities (AAOU) was held at Royal Ambarrukmo Hotel in Yogyakarta, Indonesia from the 27th to the 29th September 2017.

About 300 university officials and educational experts in the field of open and distance learning from more than 20 Asian countries participated the conference.

The theme this year was "Open University for Inclusive and Equitable Quality Education". From OUJ, President Shin Kisugi as an AAOU board member, Vice President Tatsuhiko Ikeda, Prof. Takao Tashiro of Living and Welfare and Assoc. Prof. Kikuo Asai of Informatics, and Prof. Tsuneo Yamada as a member of Steering Committee of Asian MOOCs attended. Furthermore, the former President Yoichi Okabe was invited to the conference.

Participants from OUJ

In the keynote speeches given at the plenary sessions, suggestive points such as flexibility of the quality assurance and examinations and/or individualization of learning materials to be customized by his/her learning histories, which would also become controversial matters in OUJ, were indicated. On the other hand, a variety of educations and the operation systems to work along with circumstances of each country and area, were introduced at the parallel sessions.

In his presentation titled "Online course understanding cancer in Japan", Prof. Tashiro introduced how the online course "Understanding Cancer in Japan" was produced. He reported that the course was highly rated on the satisfactory survey answered by OUJ students in terms of discussions on LMS or solidarity among students through attending the course. The facts that the course is popular among female students and gains females' interest because of the growing number of female breast cancer in Japan, drew attention from many of the representatives of each country.

Prof. Tashiro's Presentation

Assoc. Prof. Asai's Presentation

Assoc. Prof. Asai made his presentation under the title "How various students can access face-to-face lectures remotely and synchronously" introducing his attempt of how students are able to attend face-to-face classes being at home. In that challenge, he observed that students who attended them from home are favorable to this remotely attending system, on the other hand, half of the students who attended them directly at study centers don't feel the necessity of the system. His presentation was followed by the discussion over the trend that face-to-face or real-time lectures are being emphasized even at open universities.

Prof. Yamada led the workshop titled "OER(Open Educational Resources) Repository" held before the plenary session. While AAOU member institutions started to share and develop educational resources jointly, this OER Repository plays the role to integrate scattered open resources to be used for free. AAOU is now supporting the innovation of this system with National Institute of Informatics in Japan. This AAOU OER Repository was introduced as one of the projects run by AAOU Asian MOOCs Steering Committee along with the AAOU language programs on MOOC.

Prof. Yamada with the Steering Committee members

At the closing ceremony of the conference, former OUJ President Yoichi Okabe was awarded the AAOU Meritorious Service Award for his outstanding services and contributions to the areas of open and distance education during his six-year tenure as the President of OUJ. When he ended his acceptance speech, there arose a warm shower of applause from the audience.

Former OUJ President Okabe awarded Meritorious Service Award

The 32nd AAOU annual conference will be held in Hanoi, Vietnam from 24th to 27th October next year, and will be organized by Hanoi Open University.

Delegation from Ministry of Education of People's Republic of China

On September 26th 2017, Tokyo Bunkyo Study Center of OUJ welcomed seven visitors from Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China, including Mr. Chen Ziji, Head of the National Educational Development Research Center.

Director of Tokyo Bunkyo Study Center, Professor Okano, gave a presentation to introduce the roles of the study centers and The Open University of Japan. Professor Yuan served as the liaison of this meeting which ended with a lively discussion of the learning systems of each country's open distance higher education.

The Open University of Japan has renewed the Memorandum of Understanding with Royal University of Bhutan

OUJ has signed the Memorandum of Understanding with Royal University of Bhutan (RUB) on 18 August 2017.

From OUJ, Professor Kawai visited RUB on behalf of President Kisugi and participated the signing ceremony for the conclusion of the MoU with Vice Chancellor Nidup Dorji of RUB.

For the past few years, OUJ and Sherubtse College under jurisdiction of RUB has collaborated actively under the previous MoU between faculties. With the MoU newly settled, we believe the collaboration would broaden its scale and deepen the tie between the two institutions.

In the second phase of the MoU, both the institutions are now planning joint programs and researches.

Visitor from SRH Fernhochschule The Mobile University

On June 9th 2017, OUJ received the researcher, Professor Christine Schimek from SRH Fernhochschule, The Mobile University in Germany.

SRH Fernhochschule is the distance education institution established in 1996 and has the characteristics of functioning as vocational training targeted at working adults.

The purposes of the visit are;
to exchange the concepts and respective teaching systems between the two universities,
to discuss the ways to teach Biology/Life Sciences via distance teaching, and
to learn/share experiences and new developments of online teaching.

President Kisugi, Professor Nikoh of Nature and Environment program and other staffs welcomed the researcher.

Professor Schimek attended the facility tour of the TV studio and the library, and asked detailed questions about student services that are being developed at OUJ.

When meeting with President Kisugi as a courtesy visit, Professor Schimek conveyed her thought of coming back to OUJ in no distant future to further communicate with us. We equally agree with the thought and expect the mutual exchange in the future.

At OUJ library tour

Delegation from The National Open University (Taiwan)

The delegation consisting of three researchers from The National Open University (NOU) have visited the headquarters of OUJ, Chiba and Saitama Study Centers on 2nd June, 2017

Last year, OUJ and NOU have renewed the MOU which was concluded originally in 1993, to facilitate mutual friendship, academic research and educational cooperation between the two institutions.

Since the two members of the delegates are the academics serving in the regional centers of NOU, the facility tours and the discussions with Director of each study center were mainly arranged for them to know a variety of practices and experiences being implemented in each study center.

At the meeting with Professor Miyano, the Director of Chiba Study Center, they showed a keen interest in the wide variety of face-to-face lectures and a lot of questions arose.

Proceeding to the lunch meeting with President Kisugi and Vice-President Ikeda, there was a lively discussion over the topics such as the efforts to recruit students and the present situation of the distance education in Japan. After the meeting, they moved to Saitama Study Center.

At Saitama Study Center located just in front of Omiya Station, the delegates firstly toured the center and observed the activity of the recitation circle whose members participated enthusiastically for the coming festival in September, hosted by Saitama Study Center. They also observed some face-to-face lectures and had the discussion with Professor Shibuya, Director of Saitama Study Center, in terms of the cooperation with the local governments and student recruitment introducing the actual cases.

We hope that NOU and OUJ keep a good relationship in future by providing impetus each other.

Delegation from Hunan Radio and TV University

Led by Vice President Jianjun Liu, the delegation consisting of five researchers from Hunan Radio and TV University visited OUJ on 1st June, 2017.

Hunan Radio and TV University is a public open university in China established in 1979 and has 20 branch campuses, one of which is operated directly and the rest are jointly managed by the local institutions, where more than 145,000 students are studying as of the end of 2016.

The aim of their visit to OUJ was to exchange information about the effective practices experienced at the both institutions, to discuss the application of long-distance teaching and flexible teaching in adult education and its development, and to explore the possible international cooperation between the two institutions.

On the arrival, the delegates had a courtesy visit to President Kisugi and Vice President Ikeda, and exchanged gifts as a token of friendship.

Changing the place, Professor Yuan Fujie introduced OUJ to the delegates. In the lunch meeting, Vice President Liu gave a presentation on the outline of Hunan Radio and TV University, followed by the discussion in regard to the life-long learning and the operation of study centers.

The delegation left OUJ headquarter after the facility tour of TV Studios and our library on that day.

On 3rd June, the delegation visited Kanagawa Study Center where the staff of the center supported by the students who are the members of Chinese Culture studying group welcomed the delegation warmly.

At the welcoming event, Vice President Liu played the erhu (two-stringed Chinese violin) in front of the audience and the event ended successfully leaving delightful memories among everybody that attended.

We hope this occasion will be a wonderful opportunity to promote partnerships between two institutions in the future.

Vice President Attended ICDE Leadership Summit 2017

Hosted by LORIA at Université de Lorraine, ICDE Leadership Summit 2017 was held at Nancy, France from 22-23 May 2017 with the theme "Leadership: when transforming education through learning analytics and adaptive learning".

The very engaged presentations and discussions led the educational leaders of higher education to learn the potential that adaptive learning and learning analytics hold for quality enhancement.

On the second day of the summit, ICDE Cluster for Learning Analytics, a pilot project for a two-year period, was established at its first meeting and The Open University of Japan became one of the members. The big "learning" data accumulated through online learning has a great potential for improving outcomes of higher education and the cluster will focus on experience sharing and knowledge exchange. Most of its meetings would be held online and the next face-to-face meeting is expected to take place at the ICDE World Conference in Toronto.

The summit was organized back to back with a one day Forum "Visionary Leadership for Digital Transformation" on 24 May 2017, at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, organized by ICDE, UNESCO and the project D-Transform. Professor Ikeda served as the Vice Chair at the Breakout Showcase Session to share the examples of concrete university models for digital and flexible educational provisions among the speakers and attendees.

For more information, please visit

Professor Ikeda at the Leadership Summit
Photo Courtesy of KNOU