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MOOCs for Science & Engineering Education symposium

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June 24, 2015

In line with Tokyo Tech's ongoing education reform, the Institute joined the MOOC1 consortium edX2 in October 2014, to enhance its ability to provide online learning opportunities. At Tokyo Tech, the Online Education Development Office (OEDO) plays a central part in developing course content in preparation for the first MOOC to be launched in September 20153.

In March 2015, OEDO held the "MOOCs for Science & Engineering Education," symposium at Tokyo Tech Front with the aim of sharing the Institute's efforts and spotlighting current trends in online education abroad for the Tokyo Tech community.

Faculty members join forces with TAs to develop MOOC content at Tokyo Tech's OEDO
Faculty members join forces with TAs to develop MOOC content at Tokyo Tech's OEDO

Education Services Senior Director Sherry Heffner and three members of staff from edX were invited to the symposium. Other speakers included Professor Ting Chuen Pong from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) and Professor Haruo Takemura, director of the Teaching and Learning Support Center at Osaka University. The 51 participants included 10 Tokyo Tech alumni and attendees from other institutions.

edX Education Services Senior Director Heffner

edX Education Services Senior Director Heffner

After Tokyo Tech President Yoshinao Mishima's opening remarks, Heffner talked about the significance of today's online classes in her presentation "Empowering Learning in the Classroom and Around the Globe." The senior director provided explanation of edX's activities based on analysis of data from member universities and users together with example cases, and touched on the future prospects of the online platform.

Professor Pong from HKUST

Professor Pong from HKUST

HKUST's Pong spoke of "New Education and Research Opportunities offered by MOOCs," introducing the current shift from traditional lectures to more learner-centered classes through active learning4, blended learning5, and flipped classrooms6. Pong has been delivering MOOC courses on edX and face-to-face engineering coursework at the university. In addition to blending MOOC materials and project-based learning7 on campus, Pong's course from last summer led to a follow-up project combining HKUST students and overseas MOOC students with outstanding academic results.

Professor Jeffrey Scott Cross shared the status of TokyoTechX, the MOOC courses produced by Tokyo Tech to be launched later this year. He reported on course content development in cooperation with student TAs8 working in the Online Education Development Office (OEDO), established in December 2014.

Professor Takemura from Osaka University

Professor Takemura from Osaka University

Tokyo Tech student Shoh Tagawa introducing TA activities for MOOCs

Tokyo Tech student Shoh Tagawa
introducing TA activities for MOOCs

Moderated by Professor Cross, a panel discussion involving Takemura, edX's Product Director Lou Wang, Tokyo Tech Professor David Stewart, and OEDO's teaching assistant Shoh Tagawa followed. Stewart is currently preparing Tokyo Tech's second MOOC about modern Japanese architecture, while Tagawa is one of the TAs developing course content for the first MOOC, Deep Earth Science (DES).

Based on questionnaire results, the response of the audience to the symposium was very positive. The session helped participants realize the importance of motivating students to learn, the application of MOOC-related information to conventional lectures, and the visionary efforts of other universities and organizations. Furthermore, Tokyo Tech faculty showed strong support for OEDO's activities and expressed their interest in delivering online classes themselves.

Panel discussion
Panel discussion

The symposium served as a cornerstone in disseminating Tokyo Tech's efforts in online education. In April 2015, the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL) started its operations to work towards the implementation of quality-assured education in a new educational environment. As one of CITL's offices, OEDO provides faculty members with support in creating online courses, as well as designing and delivering MOOCs, all part of the Institute's continued efforts to share Tokyo Tech education and research quality with the world.

1
MOOC : Massive Open Online Course. A large-scale course usually provided free of charge to anyone with Internet access. MOOCs have school terms just like conventional courses.
2
edX : Non-profit educational organization led by MIT and Harvard. edX provides an environment where anyone with Internet access can study a variety of courses based on the latest pedagogy and didactics.
3
Revised course launch date : September 9, 2015.
4
Active learning : General term for a teaching and learning method. Unlike in one-way style of lectures by faculty members, students engage actively in course material through discussion, group work, and presentations.
5
Blended learning : Environment where courses are provided both online and face-to-face.
6
Flipped classrooms : In flipped classrooms, students study basic course content online and via other methods to accumulate knowledge. Face-to-face classes center on checking understanding and solving problems.
7
Project-based learning : Students take on active roles to prepare for classes. Work is divided among groups and each group focuses on one topic. Actual classes focus on exchange of information through questions and answers.
8
TA : Teaching Assistant. A student who assists and supports a faculty member under his or her supervision.

Tokyo Tech's Education Reform

For an overview of Tokyo Tech's education reform, please visit here.

Tokyo Tech's Education Reform

Contact

Online Education Development Office, CITL

Email citl@jim.titech.ac.jp
Tel +81-3-5734-2993

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