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Top>Education>「TSUKURU×TSUTAERU: The Corridor of Learning 」 Project


Masatake Saito

Daishi Okada [Profile]

「TSUKURU×TSUTAERU: The Corridor of Learning 」 Project

Daishi Okada
Assistant Professor of Science Education, Education Technology and Higher Education Theory, Faculty of Law, Chuo University


From October 2011, the Faculty of Law started providing video content, Manabi no Kairo (The Corridor of Learning), via Apple's contents distribution service, iTunes U. The videos provided are of lectures that are unique for a private university, and even more so for a law faculty, with the special characteristic of containing visual contents produced by students of this university and local residents. I would like to introduce why the Faculty of Law took up video distribution and the effects we expect from having students and locals involved in the production.

Internet video distribution at university and the appearance of iTunesU

Since the 1990s, the internet has expanded in explosive fashion, and, especially with the World Wide Web (WWW) and reading software (browsers) available on everyday computers, we can now access information from all over the world, and in the form of full color pictures or real time audio and video at that. It was higher educational institutions, universities, which discovered the possibility of contents distribution over the Internet.

University productions that have captured the eye in recent years are open lectures via the Internet. It started with MIT's well-known Open Course Ware (OCW) in 2002, which provided syllabuses and lecture notes for 50 courses, and now publishes materials for over 2,000 courses. Furthermore, with advancements in Internet speed and capacity, universities have started distributing video over the Internet. Even in Japan, six universities (Tokyo University, Kyoto University, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Waseda University, and Keio University) established Japan OCW in 2005, and through its 2002 GLOBAL CAMPUS project, Keio University's Shonan Fujisawa Campus (SFC) started providing video lessons.

Amid these developments, Apple introduced iTunes U in 2007. iTunes is a music management software application which is required to use Apple's iPod music player, and music, news, and other media can be downloaded to the player via the iTunes application. As a new iTunes function, Apple gathers video and audio contents transmitted by universities and arranges them so they can be searched and downloaded by way of the search terms "university" and "categories." Currently, 800 universities participate in iTunesU with half providing university guides and recorded lessons on video for the general public. You can also listen to Harvard University's 'Justice With Michael Sandel,' a program well known on NHK, for free through iTunesU.

Taking up iTunesU at Chuo University

Our university began participating in iTunesU this year. Although we lagged behind the first four universities (Tokyo, Waseda, Keio, and Meiji) in setting up, we had an accumulation of videos to match the other universities. As you may know, Chuo University has been producing an educational program called Chi no Kairo (The Corridor of Wisdom) in collaboration with Hachioji Cable Television since 2001 (81 episodes as of November, 2011), and the FLP journalism program by the Ryoichi Matsuno Laboratory started producing a program titled Tama Tankentai (Tama Expedition) in 2004 (91 episodes as of November 2011). Naturally, both productions are high quality video works, created with the intent that they would be broadcast on television. From the accumulated archive, 165 titles were selected and made available to the public in June. I have heard that Chuo University's content, which does not comprise simply of teaching staff introductions or plain university guides, have ranked near the top in number of iTunesU downloads within Japan. So, why did the Faculty of Law become involved in iTunesU and, despite its late entry, have a comparatively favorable start?

Current issues for Chuo University's Faculty of Law

There can be no objections to the fact that ever since the founding of the English Law School in 1885, the Faculty of Law at Chuo University, as a leading law faculty in Japan, has sent many into legal circles, officialdom, and the business world. Along with reforms to the Japanese legal system and the opening of law schools that accompany those reforms during a time when large changes are taking place in law faculty education and in order to both continue our 125 year history as well as to meet the needs of changes in society and university education, we must constantly reform our educational content and methods. Through video distribution, and moreover, through the increasingly popular iTunesU, the theme of conveying our current law faculty education and spreading its appeal afar is something that we at Chuo University's Faculty of Law should execute. This is a theme that is clearly challenging. So this year, we have decided to make videos of six lectures given by full-time faculty (held during Open Campus) and an address by the dean of the Faculty of Law and to release them on iTunesU.

Applying TSUKURU×TSUTAERU contents

In making the videos, we have made full use of resources on-campus and in the surrounding area. That is to say, the videos are produced by Chuo students and local residents. More than anything, the extracurricular facilities and educational facilities at Chuo's Tama Campus have been maintained as a single entity, and it is said that compared to other universities, Chuo students engage in their extracurricular activities energetically. We couldn't do anything without their talents. Also, if we are to utilize the assets of a suburban campus, it is natural that we would want to turn to the local residents. Then, the video production itself was turned into an event in the form of a contest. Five student teams (up to three of which were student circles) and one local team were involved in the video production. There were works with excellent visual effects and works capturing students in their learning environment which can also be used next year, as well as works that placed emphasis on the opening of the video and works that included teacher interviews in the introduction, all of which were appealing. Then, after receiving final image consultations from a professional (a Chuo graduate), the videos were successively made public at the end of October.

In regards to the contest, we received the following comments from the professional consultant. Nowadays, because of the Internet, CD sales are falling, but live performances by artists are drawing increasing numbers in attendance. By getting attached to music after listening to it many times over the Internet, people start wanting to see live performances. University lessons will probably fall into this area. For example, students and people involved in education react differently to the visit of Professor Sandal compared to a time before the broadcasting of Harvard University's 'Justice With Michael Sandel.' Looking at the distribution of videos on iTunesU, I can only hope that there is a rise in the number of young people entering university who are gaining an interest in the Faculty of Law and thinking, "I want to hear that professor's lectures."

From a different angle, we can also see issues facing law faculty education in video distribution. Generally speaking, in law-related subjects, there are many times where commentary and interpretation takes place with reference to provisions and precedent materials in front of you. In the case of an iPod, iPhone, or iPad, video images are central, and if you don't acquire those materials separately, the content will be difficult to grasp. This falls under the category of FD (faculty development), but I feel it would be desirable to produce slides separately and insert appropriate notes and commentary into the videos. Of course, content will not be distributed by video only; there is also a method of packaging (containerization) them with supplementary materials. Anyhow, the six works were completed in a short period of time, and we were able to gain an extremely large number of benefits and issues to take into the coming years.

Final word-Best content from universities lies in the lectures-

Labor problem researcher and former University of California Chancellor Clark Kerr defined the function of the modern university as a multiversity that consists of relations between many interested parties, including national and regional society, which stretches beyond the relationship between teachers and students. In Japan, higher learning institutions, especially private universities, are operated through the collection of tuition fees, donations from interested parties and government subsidies. Therefore, along with university education and the research activities that produce returns in the form of student education, the content must also be conveyed to the wider society. To that extent, I believe that iTunesU is an effective method for giving something back to the community. I happened to view the videos of the lectures of six of my colleagues and felt that "university lectures are interesting." Universities must strengthen the idea that along with research, education, and lectures in particular, is the largest and best content, and I myself feel that I want to provide the best lectures possible.

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Daishi Okada
Assistant Professor of Science Education, Education Technology and Higher Education Theory, Faculty of Law, Chuo University
Born in Toyama Prefecture in 1973. Completed his doctorate in 2004 at the Graduate School of Decision Science and Technology, Tokyo Institute of Technology. PhD in Arts and Sciences.
After working as an assistant at the National Graduate Institute for policy Studies and as a special part-time employee at Meiji University Educational Research System Department before becoming assistant professor at Chuo University's Faculty of Law in 2009.
Has an interest in higher education theory and information technology education and is currently conducting research in student-to-student support in information literacy education. Is in charge of Information Processing, Information Processing Theory A, and Chuo University and Modern and Post-Modern Japan at Chuo University.