This paper reports on how an undergraduate leadership course was designed and implemented at a Japanese mid-sized private university to match the Japanese government’s initiative of fostering global individuals through education. The Japanese government launched multiple projects for cultivating global leaders since 2012, in order to raise international competitiveness of the Japanese youths and tertiary institutions (MEXT, 2012). Some of the issues included in these projects were to strengthen English language education, cultivate abilities to handle challenging issues in the global arena, and improve Japan’s international competitiveness. However, the average Japanese undergraduates have only little exposure to people from different cultural backgrounds and races, which make it difficult for educators to teach global leadership skills until now. By incorporating Ubiquitous Learning (Jung, 2014) and Flipped Learning (Yahya, Ahmad, & Jalil, 2010) and the content from a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), the university under study was able to offer a global leadership course that was comprehensible to Japanese students with some “hidden” language help. The courses offered in the major MOOC sites are mostly intended for those learners with proficient English skills, who can participate in online discussions and complete assignments to fulfil course requirements. However, the level of English proficiency in Japan is one of the lowest among the developed countries and in Asia, therefore, providing English support was essential while offering the course as a leadership course, rather than a content-based language course. The “hidden” language support was provided by employing Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL), a pedagogical approach that gaining global popularity, that language teaching is not “explicit” (Coyle, Hood, & Marsh, 2010). There is one more component incorporated in this course that the students are to be responsible for their study so that Flipped Learning (Bergmann & Sam, 2012) was introduced to maximise the face-to-face class time for discussion and other activities, and knowledge input regarding leadership was designed to be done individually or collaboratively online, before coming to each class. The session is not directly related to the conference theme but the study incorporates a large component of e-learning, therefore, it is related to learning technology.
Session content: evaluation and reflection
The course under study was set as the response to the MEXT leadership initiatives at a Japanese university. The course aimed to cover some of the following points that the government suggested: 1) strengthen English language education; 2) cultivate abilities to handle challenging issues in the global area; 3) promote study abroad programmes; and 4) enhance opportunities for educational collaboration with leading overseas universities to offer their courses to Japanese university students. The course was offered as an elective course. Many of the enrolled students had some overseas experiences or were planning to study overseas as exchange students. As explained earlier, the English proficiency of the average Japanese students is among the lowest in the developed nations, running courses that are only delivered in English without any language support is not durable in the current Japanese educational context. The government, on the other hand, advocates the idea of making the world-class education accessible to the Japanese students. In order to overcome the language and geographical challenges, a special course was designed by adopting a MOOC course from one of the major MOOC sites, which content was reorganised into smaller sections, and repackaged for flipped learning using a content management app for mobile devices. Online tasks for language and content assistance were also included in the flipped materials so that the Japanese students were able to study the world-class content without difficulties. The enrolled students could borrow tablets from the university, which facilitated flipped and ubiquitous learning, and also enhanced the face-to-face component of the course. The face-to-face class was to help the learners internalise the MOOC content through activities with the support of the course coordinator and the teacher. The roles of technology were to bring the latest and authentic content to the Japanese students who otherwise had no chance to be exposed to, and for the university to respond to the government’s initiation. The flipped mode enabled teachers to spend more time on the content, rather than using a chunk of time on language assistance. The data for the study include the curriculum, syllabus, online logs for the course materials, student insights of the weekly tasks, and student interviews to capture how each player in this learning environment as well as the institution influenced each other in orchestrating this particular context. Actor Network Theory (ANT) was used as the analytical tool to unveil how the course was implemented by examining the influence that each stakeholder, both human and nonhuman, had over one another (Tanaka-Ellis, 2017). Each human or nonhuman actor was represented as a node, and the directions of power between nodes were annotated to visually map the architecture of this particular learning context. ANT revealed how the government’s proposition was interpreted by the educators (the institution and the course coordinator) and implemented as a course and curriculum, and executed by the teaching staff, and then how student learning occurred. The paper discusses in what degree the course was able to respond to the government intention and why.
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Tanaka-Ellis, N. (2017). Converging the Curriculum Designer’s Intentions into a Foreign Language Classroom. Journal of Arts & Humanities, 6(7), pp. 19-32. Available at: https://www.theartsjournal.org/index.php/site/article/view/1208/588 [Accessed March 25, 2018].
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