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A Visit from Bhutan Royal University

Between 27th and 28th March 2019, two faculty members from Royal University of Bhutan (RUB) visited the headquarters of OUJ to follow out a research project based on the collaborative agreement between OUJ and RUB.

In the morning of 27th, an overview of OUJ was given to the delegation and in the afternoon they made a presentation introducing the Kingdom of Bhutan, RUB and its education system in turn.Vice President Ikeda attended the gathering and exchanged opinions with them.

On the following day, they toured Chiba Study Center, OUJ facilities of the library, the master control room and the TV studio, followed by a courtesy visit to President Kisugi and Vice President Iwanaga, and had a conversation for ongoing research and cooperation between the two universities at present.

For this visit is part of Professor Kawai's online course development research, they also had a visit on OUJ Gunma Study Center on March 26th before the headquarters visit, and had a meaningful time through interacting with the faculty and students. It is expected that the two universities will further friendly relationship through substantial exchanges in the future.

Delegation from the School of Management Science at Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University in Thailand

On March 15, twenty-two faculty members visited OUJ from the School of Management Science at Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University (STOU) in Thailand which OUJ has a collaborative agreement with. Since OUJ sent a delegation to STOU on October last year, our communication was activated and led to this visit.

After receiving an overview of OUJ in the morning, the STOU delegation toured Chiba Study Center, OUJ facilities of the library, the master control room and TV studio. They observed each facility with great enthusiasm throwing a lot of questions toward the guide staff.

In the afternoon, a presentation meeting was held as the place to introduce efforts and researches of the two universities with the attendance of OUJ faculty and staff. Various questions and opinions were exchanged regarding the education system and services.

At the discussion meeting held with President Kisugi and Vice President Iwanaga, congenial exchanges were made with STOU members in a peaceful atmosphere.We hope that both universities will further relationship which leads to a substantial exchange in the future.

President of Athabasca University visited OUJ

Dr. Neil Fassina, President of Athabasca University (AU) as well as an Executive Committee member of the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE) visited the OUJ Headquarters between 25th and 26th February.

AU, located in Alberta province of Canada, is the only Open University in the county with more than 41,000 enrollments. After the renewal of collaborative agreement between the two universities in October 2017, the ties has been strengthened and that resulted in welcoming President Fassina’s visit this time.

In the afternoon of 25th, President Fassina toured OUJ facilities of the library, the master control room and the TV studio after receiving an overview of OUJ. Subsequently President Fassina had a conversation with OUJ President and Vice-President, and exchanged views and information on the current situation of open universities and distance education.

On the following day, the lecture meeting by President Fassina was held at Tokyo Bunkyo Study Center moderated by Director Hayashi of the Study Center with the participation of more than 70 audiences, mainly of OUJ students.

His presentation title was “Athabasca University: Our Past, Present, Future” about the history, the education systems and the future prospects of AU. It was followed by the active question-and-answer and opinion exchange session. The lecture meeting was concluded by the closing address of Vice President Iwanaga.

It is expected that the friendship between the two universities will be deepened and that substantial exchanges and information exchanges will be made in the future.

ICDE Lillehammer Lifelong Learning Summit

From 11th to 13th February 2019, the ICDE Lillehammer Lifelong Learning Summit was held jointly by International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE) and the Inland Norwegian University of Applied Sciences (INN) in Lillehammer. There were about 400 participants from 40 countries mainly in Europe. Lillehammer was the host of the 1994 Winter Olympics and has an impression of a quiet snowy town with many slopes. Scandic hotel, the venue of the summit is located within walking distance to the ski jumping base. From our university, Professor Masahiro Kumabe, Professor Kumiko Iwasaki, Deputy Head of General Affairs Section, Mr. Kenjiro Jin participated.

It became the first international conference for ICDE raising the theme of Lifelong Learning in Scandinavia known as the birthplace of recurrent education. At the summit, a wide range of sub-topics were developed, focusing on the three levels of lifelong learning, trends in the world, supply and demand, and educators and learners. On the second day, Prime Minister Solberg Norway gave a lecture showing the positive attitude toward the lifelong education in this country.

Three participants from OUJ had talks at breakout sessions respectively. Professor Kumabe described about the characteristics of mathematics education at OUJ from a viewpoint of lifelong education giving some examples with the theme "Effective Mathematics Education in the Open University of Japan".

Professor Iwasaki had a talk under the title of "The reemergence of recurrent education in Japan" introducing the situation that the word "recurrent education" was once again noticed in Japan and taken up as a policy in response to changes in the employment environment accompanying globalization, the declining birthrate and aging population.

Mr. Jin gave a presentation "Designing 100-year Life Society:Recurrent Education by the Open University of Japan (OUJ)", taking up examples of social roles and contribution of the elderly people as a part of creating a society where everyone can be active, introducing the government’s basic idea relating to human resource development and how OUJ supports acquisition and renewal of professional qualification.

Open Education Leadership Summit 2018

Hosted by Conservatoire national des arts et métiers, Le CNAM, Open Education Leadership Summit 2018 was held in Paris, France from December 3 to 4, 2018 with the theme “Achieve More through Collaboration”. From OUJ, Vice President Masaya Iwanaga and Professor Kumiko Iwasaki, Psychology and Education, attended, while there were about two hundred of leader level representatives from fifty countries all over the world.

This summit was organized/supported also by Open Education Consortium, the worldwide key network in the field of Open Education, and ICDE (International Council for Open and Distance Education).

The summit was consisting of two types of parallel sessions, i.e. open discussions and workshops, where participants could participate either session flexibly following one’s interests.

At the open discussions focusing on open education, various kinds of openness were introduced, such as Open Educational Resources, MOOCs, Open Access, Open Science, Open Data, Open Source Software and Hardware. There were also other discussions going on under the titles of “Open Education Certification”, “Education Commons”, “Open Education and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the United Nations” and “The Point of View from Developing Countries”. At the workshops, participants were divided into groups by themes/regions to create roadmaps representing their own open education initiatives, and each group gave a concrete proposal based on their efforts on the last day of the summit.

On attending this summit, it was again realized that open education has possibilities to reduce disparities in education and the sustainable mechanism based on the international network to assure anyone of one’s access to open education is now being explored. The experience at this summit was so valuable in consideration of the social significance of Open Education.

OUJ Delegation visited Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University (STOU)

From October 29 to 31 2018, OUJ delegation consisting of Prof. Makiko Miwa and Assoc. Prof. Yasuhiko Tsuji of Informatics, and Mr. Kenjiro Jin, Head of International Affairs Section visited STOU to study about their learning system.

STOU was established in 1978 as the eleventh public university in Thailand and now it has an enrollment of about 64,000 students. It distributes lectures for undergraduate and graduate students via their own TV and radio channels and the internet. OUJ concluded the collaborative agreement with STOU in 2012 and the ties between STOU and OUJ has been strengthened since then.

OUJ delegation headed for STOU Headquarters in Nonthaburi Province, the northern part of Bangkok on October 29. On the arrival there, Acting Vice President Krisana Rungrojwanich and Acting Vice President Somporn Puttapithakporn warmly welcomed OUJ members, followed by the presentation introducing STOU which showed that the fact of enrollment decrease caused by proliferation of universities and social changes began to cast a shadow over its university operations.

OUJ delegation were invited to welcome lunch and had a valuable time via pleasant conversation with STOU members, to deepen our friendship. After that, the party visited each department in the Headquarters including a tour of the studio and had an explanation about the supporting system for faculty members’ research and so forth.

In the morning of October 30, OUJ three members visited Regional Distance Education Center located in Nakhon Nayok Province in the northeast part of Nonthaburi Province. Regional Distance Education Centers deployed in ten locations in Thailand operate similarly to OUJ’s study centers.

On the arrival, the delegation were welcomed by the director and the faculty members and had a guidance about the center followed by a facility tour and opinion exchanges.
A local student who belongs to the students’ club joined the gathering and valuable information were shared through him.

On October 31, the party went back to the Headquarters and learned about lifelong learning programs for general citizens, printed materials production process, support for students with disabilities. The delegation then made a courtesy visit to Acting President Prasart Suebka and exchanged views with him to keep the friendly relationship between the two universities. Chairman of the University Council Wichit Srisa-an (Primary President of STOU) who heard of the OUJ visit, called on the delegation by surprise. The OUJ party introduced OUJ’s current situation for him and had a lively communication with him.

Through the three-day-visit, OUJ delegation received a heartwarming welcome from the people at STOU. Most of all, OUJ would like to send our special thanks to the members of International Affairs Office who treated our members with considerate and flexible arrangements. We hope that both of our universities continue to grow together through substantial exchanges and cooperation in the days ahead.

The 32nd AAOU Annual Conference in Hanoi, Vietnam

Being hosted by Hanoi Open University, the 32nd Annual Conference of Asian Association of Open Universities (AAOU) was held at Melia Hanoi Hotel in Hanoi, Vietnam from 24th to 26th October 2018. The main theme this year was “Open Education in Human Resource Development in ASIA’s Period of Integration”.

About 250 university officials and educational experts in the field of open and distance learning from 15 countries participated in the conference.
From OUJ, President Shin Kisugi and Vice President Masaya Iwanaga attended the AAOU Executive Committee Meeting and Prof. Makiko Miwa, Prof. Yamada, Assoc. Prof. Yasuhiko Tsuji and Mr. Kenjiro Jin of Deputy Head of General Affairs Division attended as paper presenters. Prof. Yamada, a member of Steering Committee of Asian MOOCs also attended the Committee Meeting.

Participants from OUJ

Keynote speeches discussed about how to utilize technologies in distance education in terms of human resources development and vocational education, and how to carry out the said development and education in open universities in Asia.
In other sessions, challenges and practices on educations for nursing and agricultural occupations, and foreign languages were presented.

Prof. Miwa had a talk titled “Expanding the market to include recurrent education: The case of a data science lecture series”, introducing the challenge of how OUJ can expand the market for recurrent education in Japan, where the rate of enrolled students to higher education over 25 years old is rather low amongst other developed countries.

Prof. Yamada had a presentation with the title, “Learning Analytics: Technical and Operational Requirements for the Implementation” introducing challenges in the field of Learning Analytics at OUJ. On the other hand, the paper titled “Crowdsourced Learning Based on Learning Economy” of which Prof. Yamada is one of the co-author was awarded a silver medal of AAOU Best Paper Award.

Prof. Miwa at her Presentation

Prof. Yamada at Awarding Ceremony

Assoc. Prof. Tsuji gave a speech under the title of “A survey on university students' learning from each other at all study centers nationwide at the Open University of Japan” indicating the outcomes from the survey.

Mr. Jin had a talk with the title of “Qualification Acquisition in OUJ: Being in Line with National Politics” explaining the background and current situation of qualifications in the fields of psychology, nursing and school teachers in Japan. He also introduced OUJ’s roles and challenges on the support of its acquisition and renewal.

Assoc. Prof. Tsuji at his Presentation

Mr. Jin at his Presentation

The staff of Hanoi Open University were full of warm hospitality. On the decorated stage of the main hall, a demonstration of traditional percussion instruments were performed in the opening and a water puppetry was played at dinner time which showed their spirit of welcome to the participants to the conference. The conference was concluded with a presentation by Virtual University of Pakistan, the host of the 33rd AAOU annual conference to be held in Lahore, Pakistan from November 13 to 15 2019.

Delegation from Shanghai Open University

On October 29th 2018, a delegation consisting of five members of Shanghai Open University (SOU) including Vice President Wang, accompanied with Dr. Makino of Tokyo University and his two Graduate School students visited OUJ. The purpose of their visit was to increase exchanges between the two institutions.

SOU is a new type of the higher education institution organized by Shanghai People’s Government, authorized by Department of Education, and controlled by Shanghai City Board of Education. After its establishment as Shanghai TV University in 1960, it was once closed, reopened and renamed, which brings here. It is focusing on the education specialized for adult learners and has presently forty six major fields of study and about 70,000 students’ enrollment.

After their arrival, Prof. Ming Li of Society and Industry, introduced OUJ by making a presentation, and a headquarter facility tour to the library, the master control room and the TV studios followed. At the welcome lunch meeting, President Kisugi and Vice President Iwanaga joined and exchanged meaningful information in a friendly atmosphere.

The visit from SOU was a good opportunity for both of the institutions. It is highly expected that the two universities would deepen relationship in the near future.

The 8th OUC-KNOU-OUJ International Seminar Held at the OUC in Beijing

From September 19th to 21st 2018, the 8th OUC-KNOU-OUJ International Seminar was held at headquarters of the Open University of China (OUC) in Beijing. This seminar has been held in turn by OUC, Korean National Open University (KNOU) and OUJ from 2009, and OUC hosted it this year.

The main theme of the seminar was “Online Teaching Development and Open University Innovation” and two delegates from each university totaling six speakers delivered lectures. OUJ President Shin Kisugi made a speech at the opening ceremony affirming the positive effect of this three-party seminar has brought about to us up until today.

Participants of the Seminar

In the first session, Professor Takiura made a speech titled “Potential of teaching a substantial writing component in a distance education university”. In the talk, he introduced his challenges on online lectures that Professor Takiura acts as the lead lecturer, where students can learn how to create sentences objectively, being provided with opportunities to submit writing assignments and receive feedbacks from writing tutors.

In the second session, Professor Kazuhiro Kato gave a speech under the title of “The role of simulation programs in online ecological study courses”. In his speech, he spoke about his challenges on how he developed the subjects including field survey which can hardly be replaced by online programs, by introducing the example of “Field exercise in ecology” that can partly substitute for field exercise using simulation programs. After their talks, many questions were thrown from other speakers and audiences.

All participants of the three-party seminar exchanged and shared information about online teaching and each university’s management concept, and also deepened mutual understanding, relationship and friendship.

With OUC President (Center) and KNOU President (Right)

2018 OUJ International Symposium (8 Sep. 2018)

OUJ held the international symposium at Tokyo Bunkyo Study Center. The theme of the symposium was “A New Era of OUJ: Challenges of Data/Evidence-based Education and Management” and about eighty participants including OUJ students, graduates and general citizens attended it.

In the first session, Dr. Abelardo Pardo delivered a lecture on the theme titled “From Data to Tangible Actions in Digital Education”. He introduced his challenges on the data based teaching and developed how institutions can extend the use of data to the areas such as personalised tutoring, promoting student engagement or curriculum structure. There arose lively questions from the audience after his talk.

In the second session, Dr. Li Kam Cheong had a speech on the theme titled “Innovation in Education: Disruption, Opportunities, and Challenges”. His speech discussed the opportunities and challenges ushered in by technology-mediated education, and examined how technologies have revolutionized learning modes, materials and space, followed by again lively questions from the participants.

In the final session, Vice President Masaya Iwanaga served as the moderator and held a discussion with the two keynote speakers. Several topics were discussed by throwing questions, for example, the importance to share students’ goal with tutors in order to adapt to diversified students, how to balance conservative education typified by face-to-face classes and innovative education, and how data analysis should be and how those analysis will be utilized in the future. Opinions and suggestions from the two speakers based on their rich experiences were very practical and informative for us. OUJ plans to continue holding international symposiums.

A Visit from Korean National Open University (KNOU)

On June 22nd, led by Prof. Lee Kyung Soo, nineteen students and graduates of KNOU visited the headquarters of OUJ. All of the visitors are the members of the Korea-Japan Cultural Exchange Association, where Prof. Lee acts as a mentor. The association have been keeping a good relationship with Korean Language Association of OUJ Kanagawa Study Center for years.

After their arrival, the party received the guidance of the outline of OUJ, followed by the facility tour of the library, the master control room and the studio.

In the exchange meeting with OUJ faculty and staff, Vice President Iwanaga made the opening address and all the members of KNOU have introduced themselves in Japanese afterwards. The performance of a violin, a harmonica and a clarinet by the KNOU visitors and an OUJ student was also given to the audience.

Continuing on, Prof. Lee have made a presentation on the outline of KNOU, which was followed by the speech made by Ms. Nam Eun Hee on how hard she had pursued her study about Japanese language and culture at KNOU. She continued that at first she happened to start studying Japanese just as a hobby when turning sixty and now, she is still working hard to volunteer for Japanese people who wish to learn Korean using her Japanese skill.

At the exchange meeting, President Kisugi and Vice President Ikeda joined and had friendly conversations with KNOU members in a harmonious atmosphere.

On the following day, they visited OUJ Kanagawa Study Center and participated in exchange events and spent a fruitful time with OUJ students.

Hope this visit to OUJ was a good experience for them, and the friendly relationship between the two universities will continue in future.

Delegation from Federal University of Mato Grosso in Brazil

On April 6th 2018, the delegation consisting of five researchers of Federal University of Mato Grosso (UFMT), accompanied with Prof. Onuki of Tokai University, visited OUJ for exchanging views on future collaborations between UFMT and OUJ.

UFMT is a federal university established in 1970 in Cuiabá, Brazil. It’s been developing the teacher training courses through distance education system domestically, and from 2009 to 2013, the university conducted the “Bachelor of Education Licensing Course for Brazilianes in Japan, jointly with Tokai University. Furthermore, an online course to learn multicultural education being open to three languages, Portuguese, English and Japanese, was launched from this April as a collaborative project of which Prof. Inamura and Prof. Nara of OUJ are the members.

In the morning, the introduction of OUJ was presented by Mr. Jin, Head of International Affairs Section, followed by information exchange between the two institutions, with various questions from the delegation with regard to OUJ’s learning system, students’ trend at OUJ like their occupations, age distribution and so forth.

Afterwards President Kisugi welcomed the delegation at luncheon meeting where the conversation was lively made around the table. The delegation then headed for the facility tour of Chiba Study Center, TV Studio and Master Control Room, showing great interest particularly to the equipment in the TV studio and sub control room and taking a lot of photos.

At the overall meeting, Prof. Anjos introduced UFMT to President Kisugi and Vice President Iwanaga and the possibilities on how the two institutions would be able to collaborate in the future were discussed.

Making this visit as a start, it is highly expected that the two universities would build friendship from now ahead.

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