30 May 2006

iChat with ASU

Sessions between Japanese language students at UC and English language students at ASU in Nagoya are completed for this Semester.

The four video chat sessions between Aichi Shukutoku University (ASU) and UC have now been completed, successfully.

UC Japanese lecturer Yuko Kinoshita has written a piece on the experience for the Divisional Newsletter that reflects all the Technical Services Unit needs to know about its reason for existing:

“At the beginning of the first session, none of us knew what to expect. All the technology appeared to be ready to go - thanks to George Bray, who looked after the technical side of this project. However, we were not sure how students would react to this new exercise, and still didn’t know how well the technology would work. We worried that the students might find it awkward to talk to strangers and the discussion would not happen. We also worried that the topics might be too difficult for them to handle.

“But the results were brilliant. The students on both sides just jumped into it as soon as we started the session, and they talked away for the whole two hours. Considering five minutes is quite a long time to talk to a stranger even in our own language, this was marvellous. They occasionally slipped away from the topic and started talking about the weather or their favourite music. However, they were still talking in the language that they struggle so much with in a normal classroom environment, and were also learning about a person who lives in a very different environment from theirs. This too was a precious cultural experience that they so rarely can taste.

“I have never seen students speaking so much Japanese, so spontaneously. They often struggled with words, but they kept going. Even the students who are normally unwilling to speak Japanese in class were talking with their Japanese partners for the whole session. Also it was notable that students did more thorough preparation for this project, compared to discussion classes in previous years, in which they discussed those issues in Japanese with their classmates. This probably means that the students were more motivated in these iChat classes, as it brought them a real experience of speaking with native speakers. I also observed the students’ level of confidence building up over four sessions. We are hoping that everyone can maintain the enthusiasm and the confidence they discovered through these classes, and stretch themselves even further. Although we cannot run the iChat program next semester due to conflicting schedules, Harry and I have more plans to make the technology work for us in the classroom - hopefully we can find more ways to enhance the classroom experience for our students.”

Thanks must go to the Technical Services Unit team, particularly George Bray, for making this work. Thanks also to UC Network Management Team, Geoff Rozenberg; UC Network Security Manager, Matthew Sullivan; the Deputy Head of the Division of Communication and Education, Leah Moore; and to the Communication Learning Resource Centre (for providing the venue and putting up with the intrusion!) and particularly Annabel Beckenham, Chair of the CLRC Committee, for her support. Harry Norris and Yusaku Oteki made it work at ASU.

A photo says it all:

Student from ASU, Nagoya (centre), video chatting with two UC Japanese Language students (inset)

See the UCTV website for a (silent) movie and some additional photos of one of the sessions. The movie is silent so that Journalism student could turn it into a story if they wanted to.

[See UC Monitor Online story]