International Distance Education in the Asia Pacific: The Gifu JR Station Course

International Distance Education in the Asia Pacific: The Gifu JR Station Course

Sonia Mycak (University of Sydney, Australia) and Yasuo Nishizawa (Gifu University, Japan)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6555-2.ch008


This chapter outlines the history and development of an international distance learning relationship, which was established between an Australian and Japanese university. In 2002, the University of Sydney, Australia and Gifu University in Japan established a lecture exchange program whereby live lectures would be transmitted through Web-based video conferencing. Further development of the relationship resulted in an additional three-year program whereby an entire course, consisting of weekly live lectures transmitted from Australia, was offered not only to local university students but citizens of Gifu city. An empirical account outlines the origin and purpose of this course, analyzes its success, discusses pedagogical and cultural issues and challenges that arose, and makes recommendations for further development. The final section of the chapter suggests possible future directions, including a theoretical model for worldwide international distance education.
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The international distance learning project involved the exchange of lectures between the Faculty of Education of Gifu University and the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Live lectures were transmitted through audio-visual links. From October 2002 and throughout 2003, trial lecture transmissions were conducted using both ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) dial-up circuits and IP (Internet Protocol) links. The latter proved to be both effective and cost-efficient. In March of 2004 an agreement was formally signed between Gifu University’s Faculty of Education and the Faculty of Arts at the University of Sydney for the continuing provision of such lectures. Each year lectures on Japanese language and culture were transmitted from Gifu University and incorporated into Japanese studies courses for Sydney University students. Lectures in Australian studies were transmitted from Sydney to Gifu University and incorporated into existing courses in cross-cultural communication and English as a foreign language. The aim was to give the students of each university a chance to acquire new knowledge or different perspectives through live video-conferencing lectures sent from abroad.

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