[In Essence] International Development of Education

Hi, everyone! This is Lian, now recently M2. It's been long since I last wrote for the blog. Summer "break" has been terribly busy and incredibly fast. I had been jumping from one corner of the world and experienced this season in multiple countries. To describe it hectic would be an understatement, yet I probably would not have wished it have it any other way. Ah, per aspera ad astra.

This time the theme for the blog is to introduce a book. But what book might I possibly introduce that is of valiant relevance to the laboratory? I have not been reading much Education Technology books in the break as I should have, aside from existentialism, Sickness unto Death, among others. Alas, I could think of one good book I have read through and through, from my spring term. It is Globalization of Education: An Introduction by Joel Spring (2009). I thought it a good book in the face of emerging trends and globalization, also especially interesting to discuss because of various points that could be easily countered.

[1-2] The book begins with the Knowledge Economy Theory, or more often referred to as the Human Capital Theory, and how it is used in global education policy making. Criticism faced by the Education for Knowledge Economy movement is that job availability is not congruent to the graduating demographic. This is further exemplified by the trend of lowering the funding for liberal arts education in lieu of STEM fields. There is still however a huge demand for technology-related jobs that is emanating in developed countries. One of the necessary skills in the industry today, for example, is programming which has a low human resource output. There is an influx of nurses, English graduates, chemical engineers, astronomers, etc. being outsourced by IT firms which questions the mismatch of interests and demand.

[3-5] The increased trend in globalization of education brought forth the dominance of the English as a medium of instruction. Chapter 4 discusses this, along with examples of marketing knowledge in higher education institutions. Spring points out that, English-speaking countries are at an advantage due to their relative attractiveness to international student prospects. Truthfully so, other countries follow suit with their brand name universities offering English programs, such as the program I am taking at the University of Tokyo. To gain admission to this program, it is required to submit scores from standardized tests offered by ETS namely GRE and TOEFL; both of which had also been pointed out to contribute in the standardization of education worldwide.

A fascinating proposition raised in this chapter is the notion of a "Global University", wherein the ideal set-up is a combination of a number of internationally acclaimed faculty not limited to one university. This could be done in a mixture of virtual, campus movement, or whatnot. This vision is slowly being realized through e-learning media such Coursera, edX, and the like. There are also a number of institutions offering cross-campus instruction and double (or any extent of multiple) degree programs. HEIs are also in the trend of forming coalitions for research collaboration and global exchange. One such affiliation is with the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), in which summer exchange and internships within member institutions are offered annually.

In contrast to the world theorist's common global model of education, culturalists argue that there is instead a flow of borrowing and lending of educational ideas; these said ideas are not copied as is and are subject to adaptation due to local conditions. The book further states, "To validate or criticize a school policy, local actors might refer to an imaginary global community such as international standards." (p. 121)

In this brief overview I covered what I believed to be the important points of globalization and education. Although Yamauchi lab members have very specialized interests that cover very specific technological and pedagogical techniques outside the realm of the globalizing trend, I would still very much recommend the book. It provides examples for interesting topics that differentiate the Western dominating culture and "Oriental" methods, which could give to explain the origins of present practices and forthcoming trends.

Au revoir,
Lian Sabella Castillo


【Research Plan】Community Building for xMOOC in Post-MOOC Era

Hi everyone! This is M1 Zhou Qiaochu from China. I start my master in ITASIA program at the University of Tokyo this fall and am lucky to be at Yamauchi Laboratory with all of you.

I graduated in 2016 with B.A. in Teaching Chinese as a Foreign language. It was my internship in an International School and the popularity of our generation utilizing the online learning that aroused my great interest in MOOC studies. Having been to the seminar twice after enrollment, I am really inspired by the diversity of research fields in our laboratory. I will also exert myself for the research.


Stepping into the post-MOOC era, xMOOC where the x stands for extended (as in TEDx, edX) is expected to gain more momentum than cMOOC. It is revolutionizing the way the knowledge is distributed. However, xMOOC has encountered several impediments, most notably, an excessive dropout rate, less effective results and the lack of specific and effective teaching structure. My study, then, will consider the effectiveness of community building in online courses to address some of these problems.

One tentative answer can be, not everyone can learn in a purely digital environment. In other words, technology will not automatically afford specific learning outcomes. The most important thing that helps students succeed in an online course can be the interpersonal interaction and support. The "empathy" theory by Holmberg was among the earliest attempts to stress emotional affordance in distance education. Now, even more powerful influence between participants on the creation of empathy in MOOCs, the community, is garnering attention.

As for community in xMOOCs, it does have direct correlation with emotional effects and improved completion rate. With interaction online or offline, learners find a sense of belonging. Because there is non-academic or social side in the learning processes, to reinforce group membership, being perceived as an in-group member, making MOOC a connectivist learning platform where interactions among participants are the pillar of knowledge creation. Ultimately, for best results, it should be community of learning and community of practice.

【Focus and Goal】

The specific focus of my research is the importance and thus improvement of community support in the virtual learning environment especially with the following questions. First, to what extent can community support improve xMOOC effectiveness? Second, to what extent will a balance between online and offline community building efforts improve xMOOC effectiveness? Third, what features of social interaction are currently absent from xMOOC? Fourth, in what ways, if any, will building online community be potentially counterproductive?

The ultimate goal of this research is to explore possible answers to the above questions, with sample from established online international education sites such as edX, Coursera, Udacity and other major Chinese xMOOC sites as well as representative individual surveys. I wish to fulfill the goal during my two years master. Also, I would improve my Japanese to get better understanding for everything here. 皆様、これから宜しくお願い致します!

【Zhou Qiaochu】













大学院は8月9月が夏期休業期間で9/26から秋学期が始まっています。私たち修士1年の学生は自分の研究に加えて8月〜9月上旬:夏合宿とそれに向けた準備(フィールドワークの調整、古典の読み込み)、9月中旬:学会への参加 といった形で夏休みを過ごしました。その様子も機会があればぜひ紹介したいと思います。