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Top>Opinion>Experiment in Education Responding to Internationalization: A Class in the Faculty of Economics in Cooperation with Singapore


Fumihiro Sato

Fumihiro Sato [Profile]

Experiment in Education Responding to Internationalization:

A Class in the Faculty of Economics in Cooperation with Singapore

Fumihiro Sato
Professor of ICT, Faculty of Economics, Chuo University


In April 2010, the Faculty of Economics began providing a very few students at the Tama campus with an IT & E-Commerce course taught in the School of Digital Media and ICT at Singapore Polytechnic, which is a national polytechnic and our partner institution in Singapore. This course is one unit in the Special Diploma course for the people who have already got the bachelor degree. The course content includes the history of so-called e-commerce and its latest trends, technological mechanisms, and future issues. This program is usually taught for 15 weeks online-via the web-and requires students to submit assignments for every session. During the program, three sessions are given as real-time discussions with teachers and students in Singapore in a video-conference format.

Image 1: An IT & E-Commerce course lecture given by Mr.Justin,lecturer at Singapore Polytechnic

The objective of the agreement between Singapore Polytechnic and the Faculty of Economics at Chuo University is to build an effective learning model for the rapidly changing information studies within internationalized environments. In the medium term, it aims at encouraging the development of human resources with the practical ability to respond to internationalization in relevant fields by working with educational institutions that are conducting advanced educational activities in the ICT field in Asia.

This is an experiment for offering opportunities to learn about the new world and explore myriad issues aligned with a vector pointing from classrooms to society, just as is done in internships, overseas field work for seminars, and career design at the Faculty of Economics. This also provides motivation for further learning.

Learning in English is vital, particularly in the rapidly evolving fields of information and communication technology, and we have great expectations that students actively working on such learning will take the first step toward future success in the international arena.

Image 2: A class session in the IT & E-Commerce course at a classroom in Building 7 on the Tama campus.

The Faculty of Economics had already been implementing distance learning and remote conferences in cooperation with universities in Singapore, the Philippines, and Vietnam since 1997, and the three-year collaborative research project starting from 2006 at our university had been exploring ways of full-scale implementation.

Why Singapore?

Singapore is a city state with a population of about 5 million in an area as small as Awaji Island in Japan. The active promotion of ICT (Information and Communication Technology) by the public and private sectors in tandem is characteristic of Singapore, and they have been introducing fast and secure leading edge information and communication technologies early-creating opportunities for many companies overseas to enter the market-and promoting the development of human resources in an integrated fashion through collaboration among the government, private firms, and educational institutions.

In addition, thanks to establishment of Asia's largest trade network under the Free Trade Agreement (FTA), there is a port even larger than the Port of Yokohama, which, along with the Changi International Airport-also larger than Narita Airport-has provided companies with many business opportunities.

One of Singapore's most distinguishing features is that the nation comprises multiple ethnicities-including Chinese, Malay, and Indian-which creates an international atmosphere in everyday life. This creates a virtuous cycle, as competent personnel work interdependently and efficiently and their messages are sent throughout the world, which in turn attracts people and businesses to Singapore from abroad. Though in the past Singapore had imported water from neighboring countries due to a domestic shortage, they have reached a point where they will be exporting something called NEWater within the next few years. Singapore's national determination toward development in new fields is a prime example for the field of education as well.

Why Singapore Polytechnic?

Singapore Polytechnic is Singapore's oldest educational institution, and the first polytechnic in the country that introduced advanced use of ICT technologies for educational purposes. They have a friendly relationship with the Faculty of Economics and the IT Center in our university and have held real-time video conferences with us since 1997.

Image 3: Singapore Polytechnic

This institution introduced and started using WBT (Web Based Training) in 1997-the earliest in Singapore-to promote the Virtual College project for enabling learning at home based on the human resource development policies of Singapore. As a good example of addressing issues in the use of computer technology in education, their educational approach is famous as a quintessential model in Singapore, and we admire their policy that the use of ICT is a way to achieve more opportunities of face-to-face communication between teachers and students.

Challenges in education responding to internationalization going forward

According to news in general newspapers in early September, a major manufacturer in Japan announced that they will start recruiting new employees from the spring of 2012 with the assumption that all of their white-collar recruits who were educated at the undergraduate level or above may be assigned overseas in the future. In developing strategies for further expanding their business globally, this company has a plan to work on establishing systems that start from the stage of recruitment to develop human resources ready for operations requiring foreign languages. They will regard all white-collar recruits as global personnel, and their group companies will also reportedly adopt similar recruitment policies to promote the development of human resources ready for global deployment. Though it is unclear whether or not this plan will actually be implemented as the media has reported, some other companies also announced that they will conduct business operations in English starting this year-earlier than the aforementioned plan.

As seen above, companies targeting the global marketplace tend to acquire more and more human resources from abroad. Following this trend, among the skills, knowledge, and abilities that will be required of Japanese employees, the ability to respond to internationalization and foreign language ability will be vital.

Staying autonomous in internationalized society, however, requires a deep understanding of Japan and the Japanese language. It is critical for students to study Japanese more than ever in their university. Without it, they would not even be able to enhance their specialization. For this reason, we are strongly encouraging students enrolling in the IT & E-Commerce courses or internship to take examinations such as the Japanese Language Examination supported by the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper as motivation for learning the Japanese language.

We anticipate that going forward the methodologies and approaches for e-learning and distance learning accumulated in the ICT field will gradually expand to other fields, including foreign language lectures or exercises, as a means to improve education for internationalization in the Faculty of Economics.

Fumihiro Sato
Professor of ICT, Faculty of Economics, Chuo University
Brief History
Born in Kanagawa Prefecture in 1950
1974: Graduated from the School of Education, Waseda University
1974: Japan Information Processing Development Corporation (temporarily transferred to the former Agency of Industrial Science and Technology in 1981)
1994: Full-time lecturer on the Faculty of Economics, Chuo University. Later: Associate Professor (1995) and Professor (1999) at the same institution.
2002 - 2004: Visiting scholar at the Center for Design Research, Stanford University
2006 - 2008: Assistant Dean on the Faculty of Economics
Research interests: e-learning (distance learning) and human resource development using ICT in Southeast Asia