The Japan News by The Yomiuri Shimbun

Home > Campus Now > From the classroom window : New Year Issue (Jan.)

Campus Now

New Year Issue (Jan.)

From the classroom window

Here we will introduce high quality education being practiced and fitting of the name "Educational Waseda"

At Waseda University, in order to promote Faculty Development (FD), the FD Promotion Center was established in 2008 and is working to improve quality of education. We asked Faculty of Social Sciences Professor Kaminuma about the faculty's introduction of the "Course N@vi Standard Package".

*Faculty Development..General term for the systematic approach of faculty to improve lesson content and delivery.

Aiming for an enriched educational environment by raising the usage rate of Course N@vi

Masaaki Kaminuma
Professor, Faculty of Social Sciences, Waseda University

Basic functions put into a package, making it easy to operate and use

The Course N@vi Standard Package, by combining the basic functions of the Course N@vi study and educational support tool, has been put together and the system is comparatively easy to use for staff. The system was established as a startup in all subjects in the faculty from April 2011, and is being run independently. The aim is to raise the benefits for both students and faculty, and contribute to improvements in lessons.

Course N@vi was originally released throughout the whole university in 2007, and because of its multiple functions and high degree of freedom design, heavy users, centered on full-time faculty, have mastered its flexibility to customize it to suit themselves. At the same time, it is a fact that those characteristics invite increased complications of the default settings. Because of that, in order to create a system that can be used smoothly by users such as part-time faculty, whose usage is comparatively lower, a little time and effort is required. In doing so, there have been few teaching staff members who, while feeling the value of the system, have hesitated at introducing the system into their lessons.

Our faculty's administration has been holding courses related to Course N@vi operation for the past few years and conducting teacher support. However, because this has its limitations, it was thought that more in-depth policy was required, and staff expressed their hopes for a system with higher usage rates. Exchanges of opinions between both faculty and staff lead to the concept of a packaged system. Since receiving a policy decision from the faculty meeting, by putting together concrete instructions with the cooperation of each related section, the standard package was finally completed.

Half a year has now passed since its introduction. Results from a survey taken at the end of the first semester show that approximately 75% of all courses are using Course N@vi. As the usage rate after the second semester in 2010 was 50%, there is a real feeling that the standard package is being accepted by many of the teaching staff.

Giving comments to each individual using review sheets.

Colleagues who produced results through faculty and staff cooperation

A function of Course N@vi in which I personally treasure is the "review sheet" that students fill in with their thoughts and understanding of the lessons. As well as becoming a reference on how to conduct my lessons, because I endeavour to add comments to each one, I feel that it is a valuable space in which I can talk with students individually.

What I would like to convey to students there is that there is meaning behind "noticing what you don't understand" in class. Although there are quite a few students who try to get some kind of response from me straight away via the review sheet, I believe that, in the long run, teachers merely exist to provide opportunities and hints to make students think. For students, I want you to bring up and surround yourself with various ideas when you feel you don't understand something in class, and build up experiences related to that. By doing so, the day will come when you will suddenly understand the content of the lessons. Isn't that the process of learning and the form education should take?

Deepening cooperation between faculty and staff

Now, as opposed to printed teaching materials, the electronic material of Course N@vi can be amended immediately. Currently in our faculty, staff are actively proposing revisions to foreign language learning related materials, and progress is being made through cooperation between faculty and staff. We have been able to receive such hearty support from the staff. It can be said that such benefits have been seen owing to the rise in use of Course N@vi. And because less time is required for course mark books, there has been a great improvement in the efficiency of staff operations because everyone is devoting their energy to improving the quality of education. In the future I hope to aim for deepening faculty and staff cooperation even further, and a more enriching educational environment.

Standard Package Function Outline

Course N@vi is Waseda University's own system full of support functions to improve teaching effectiveness and was introduced throughout the university in 2007. The Faculty of Social Sciences has created the following standard package.

NotificationsLecture Folder
Student ListAttendance Management
Review SheetLecture Material Box
Report BoxResults Management etc

Course N@vi Use Merits

Leads to burden reduction and cost-cutting, and research and operations can be conducted efficiently.
Advancement of paperless operations.
Materials can be posted, and meetings and correspondence can be managed efficiently.
Can act as a security measure for result management.

Masaaki Kaminuma
Professor, Faculty of Social Sciences, Waseda University

Completed his master's degree at the Graduate School of Economics, Waseda University. Took up his current position in 1993 after working as an assistant, full-time lecturer and assistant professor at the School of Social Sciences. Majors in policy science. Is interested in walking, swimming and bird-watching.