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How to Develop International Understanding through the Internet: Some Advice and Tips for Educators-IV. Internet Exchange Among Asian Students

How to Develop International
Understanding through the Internet:
Some Advice and Tips for Educators


Makoto Kageto
Seiryo Commercial High School

IV. Internet Exchange Among Asian Students

1. Method
Level: High school-level (Age 16-18)
Participating countries: Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Thailand, Hawaii
Number of schools participating: Japan, 16; Taiwan, one; Hawaii, one; Korea, one; and Thailand, one.
Number of participants: 125 from mailing list
Participants in symposium and camp in Japan: 52
Communication method: exchange via the Internet, symposiums, camp in Japan, exchange via the Internet after face-to-face exchange
Internet tool: Cu-SeeMe, Email, and Mailing list
Keywords: Collaborative research, camp in Japan, 3-year plan, collaborative work to create WEB news, home page creation with Real Audio, international exchange between nets

2. Background
The Internet exchange among high school students that is presented here was not based on a one-on-one exchange between individual schools, but was carried out with several schools communicating with one another at the same time. Japan is an island country and there are few opportunities to use English everyday. We hope this project will be a breakthrough against the limited English use in Japan and will promote "internationalization" in Japanese education.

3. Purpose
Asian countries are geographically and historically close to each other, but not enough to enjoy deep and intimate understanding. We often read about political and economical issues in other Asian countries on TV or in the newspapers, but we do not know much about their everyday life. The Internet, however, enables you to communicate on an everyday basis. This project is designed for young people to take advantage of the Internet to establish better mutual understanding for the Asia of tomorrow.
This project is intended to organically combine virtual exchange with the use of mailing lists and the WEB, and real exchange such as symposiums, camps, and the like. We will be using current multimedia, such as video letters, too.
(1) Advance in the English
One of our specific purposes is to advance the level of English. Every member of this project studies English as a second language. Exchanging email and using mailing lists in English will be useful to make students realize how important English is as an international language. The project is also intended to cover everyday English as well as English learned in schools. Real time communication software will be helpful in providing various situations for English conversation.
(2) Promote Cultural Understanding
This project is also designed to make students realize that respecting their culture reflects self-identity. Getting to know what kind of goods are imported and exported by their country and examining how they are received, for instance, will help to understand daily life and vice versa.
(3) Class-simulation
Among the commercial high schools in each country, this project was used as a class material.

4. Preparation
(1) How We Found a Collaborator

a. Nepal
The people of Nepal, a developing country, are diligent and hard-working. They are interested in learning from Japan, a country that has rapidly advanced after Wold War II, and they have very positive sentiments toward Japan. Nepal has a good education system, too. Being located far away from Japan helps students realize how fast the Internet is. All these features are believed to be suitable for the Internet exchange. I visited Dhulikhel Hospital where I had helped set up the networking system for medical records and, thanks to some doctors over there, I was introduced to a school that had electricity and phone lines.

b. South Korea
Because of the historical background, South Korea does not have friendly sentiments toward Japan, but I believe this has been mainly caused by political and economical issues reported by the mass media. Hoping that everyday exchange between young people will promote a better Japan-South Korea relationship, I visited "Joong Ang Libo" which has promoted the Internet use as a teaching tool in Korea. They introduced me to a girls' commerce high school in Seoul that has been using the Internet for a long time. Thanks to this network, we started an exchange with Shin Jung Girls' Commercial High School and Kuro Information Industry High School too.

c. Thailand
Thailand is a Buddhist country that has had a long and deep cultural relationship with Japan. However, the lack of daily information on Thailand has made it difficult for us to understand the country well. We invited some Thai students who currently live in Japan to participate in the project, hoping for further exchange with Thai people via the network.

(2) How to Proceed with Collaborative Work

a. Setting up mailing lists (April)
For better contact, we started up the following mailing lists.
English mailing list for students

An English language teacher joins them as a coordinator and provides his or her views, if necessary, and this is automatically forwarded to the mailing list for educators.
English mailing list for educators

We started up both an English version and Japanese version. These are not available for students.

b. Making arrangements using Cu-SeeMe
In schools where CU-SeeMe was available, students joined the Cu-SeeMe communication, too. They talked mainly about school life. Getting to know each other through audio and visual communication made them look forward to seeing each other at the camp which was to be held in Japan.

c. Preparing for the face-to-face meeting (from April to July)
All the countries created documents according to the topics decided for the symposium in Kyo-Tanabe. We decided to create all the documents by PowerPoint to facilitate the proceedings of the symposium and for developing presentation skills.

d. Face-to-face meeting in Japan

July 23 assembly at Kyo-Tanabe City Open-air Education Center (preparation for symposium)
July 24 Sight seeing, field trip on waste disposal problems, home page creation
July 25 Cu-SeeMe exchange with Korea and Geneva
July 26 Exchange party at Nagoya Seiryo Commercial High School

e. Scheduling after the face-to-face meeting

To issue Asian High school Internet Newspaper (WEB newspaper)
To issue newsletters on the WEB site using exchanged email (Organizing mail by theme: school festivals, school intramural waste disposal problems, among students)
Cu-SeeMe meeting: To have periodical exchanges via the reflector. This can be used among educators to make arrangements or contact.
To make presentations on exchange within Asian countries in Japan. This will be joined by students. The first presentation was held as a case study of the "100-schools project."

5. Actual Events
(1) Before the Symposium

We instructed students to introduce each other by email and gave some lessons about Netiquette (Internet etiquette). As for some students who hesitated to write English mail, we advised them to create English mail by referring to the mail that last year's students composed. All the schools created documents by PowerPoint.
Kawasaki Commercial High School --- How your country is portrayed in our textbooks
Fukui Commercial High School --- Waste disposal problems in the school
Hawaii --- School life, contents of lecture during class
Meito High School --- Historical culture of Nara
Yokkaichi High School --- What is popular among Japanese high school students
Seiryo Commercial High School --- Suggestions for further exchange

(2) Schedule of the Symposium Day
a. July 23
12:00 assembly
12:00 to 14:00 Orientation, self-introduction preparation, for the symposium
14:00 Begin the symposium
Host: Mie Kawagoe High School and others
Opening speech: Computer Education Center (CEC), Kyo-Tanabe City Education committee, and others
Presentation in English by participating countries
Environmental (waste disposal) problems
What is popular among Japanese high school students
How countries are portrayed in Japanese textbooks
Introducing our school
Japanese education system
Suggestions for further exchange
(Issue of a WEB magazine, waste expedition group, Cu-SeeMe, commemorative address)

b. July 24
9:00 a.m. Field trip to Nara City led by educators (with cellular phones)
Visit to Tourism Section in Nara City Hall, temples and shrines (study of Japanese culture and waste disposal problem at the sight seeing spots)
Took notes of what they felt and took pictures of participants with digital cameras.
17:00 p.m. Presentation documents prepared in English (with the use of Cu-SeeMe)

c. July 25
Cu-SeeMe communication: Kyo-Tanabe - Hawaii - Korea - Geneva (APNG Education)

d. July 26
11:00 a.m. Moved to the meeting place in Nagoya
(Korea, Yume Gakuen High School, Fukui Commercial High School, Kawasaki Commercial High School)
"I had a lot of conversations with the other participants. Since Japanese students could speak basic English, we were able to communicate using English and gestures." (comment by a student from Hawaii)
"I liked Nara and the presentations. But the people made the biggest impression." (comment by a Korean student)
"Thanks to our email exchange beforehand, I wasn't so nervous about joining the symposium. I sent detailed reports to Taiwan by email." (Comment by a Taiwanese student)

6. Outcome of the Project
(1) English

As you see in the below, the participants' perception of English and internationalization has greatly changed. When asked what their primary reason for studying English was, 18.1% of them said, "because it is a required subject" before the meeting, but this decreased to 10.5 % after the meeting. 26.4% cited wanting to communicate with people from other countries and this greatly increased to 47.4% after the meeting. I believe this is because they were unable to make themselves understood in English in spite of having studied so hard.

What is your primary reason for studying English?
Before the meeting After the meeting
(1) because it is a required subject 18.1 10.5
(2) because I have to take an English test to enter university or a company 12.5 10.5
(3) because I want to communicate with people from other countries 26.4 47.4

(2) Spending Time Together

Students who had joined the meeting last year showed a great change this year. They have become much more positive about communicating with people from other countries. This proves that our project has enhanced their motivation.

a. Collaborative work
It included a field trip to Nara City, considering the waste disposal problem, and creating a WEB page based on the field trip. The participants were so absorbed into creating the WEB page that they almost forgot what time it was and stayed up late. The process of working together greatly contributed to deeper communication. Securing sufficient time for collaborative work was an important factor in our success.

b. Cross-culture perception
Almost every student from Nepal, Thailand, Korea, Taiwan, and Hawaii remarked that Japan was economically and technologically advanced. After the meeting, however, a Japanese student said to me, "Mr. Kageto, I think Japan is rich, but I feel there's something lonely about it." She said this because she saw that all the students from other countries were very proud of their culture and expressed how important it was. Students from foreign countries felt that Japanese people should appreciate Japanese traditional culture more and this gave us a good chance to think about the identity of being Japanese.

c. Staying together
The members stayed together for two nights and three days this year. Compared with one-day symposium we had had in the past, there was a lot of time to eat together, talk together, play together, and work together. It looked like their relationship had became quite closer and deeper by the third day.

d. Relationships among educators
Breaking through the barriers among schools, the Internet has allowed educators to exchange information and know-how with outside educators and strengthen ties among them. Since the Internet is a totally new trend, there are some problems to resolve before it becomes widely used. Sharing know-how, experience, and information among educators, however, made our school more actively address the issues of technical know-how, budget, and ways of application.

(3) School Characteristics

"I think we are more capable of doing things than we think we are," said one of commercial high school student after the meeting. She seemed to realize that she was a quite good typist after working together with students from other schools and foreign countries.

There are various types of schools: vocational schools such as commercial high schools, international schools where there are many returnees who once lived overseas, academically oriented schools where most students wish to go to universities. Aside from the widely acknowledged school rankings, it's very important for students to realize what is characteristic of their school and to be proud of their own school. We hope this project will help them in this way.

7. Advice to Those Who Start an Exchange Project
(1) Mailing List

It is highly recommended to set up mailing lists for students, educators, in English and in Japanese is desirable. Each mailing list usually requires a coordinator who controls and monitors it, because at the initial stage, there are some people who send mail without reading the content carefully, especially those in the student mailing list.

(2) Unexpected Occurrences

Unexpected things occur in real meetings that don't happen on the WEB site. There may be students, for instance, who are not insured for travel accidents, or who are not allowed to eat meat for religious reasons. Don't get upset. It is important that people in charge make a decision on a case-by--case basis, take action, and let the others know it.

(3) Contact with Local Japanese Embassy

The Japanese government requires visitors to Japan to have visas. If the members are from the developing countries, it is very important to contact the person in charge of issuing visas at the local Japanese embassy. Explain what the project is about to ensure that the embassy understands the purpose of the member's visit. Sending the sponsor's recommendations and records about the past activities will be also helpful.
(4) Organizational Ties

Putting a project into practice requires much money. There is a limit to volunteer-based activities. We raised funds and received support by participating in one of the major CEC projects. If you are totally a beginner, it is good to join a project having the same interests so you can obtain know-how and experience, which will be very helpful, when you start a project.

8. Other Useful Information
(1) List of Schools Joined in 1998

Countries participating: Taiwan, Korea (2), Thailand, Hawaii, Japan
Japan: Kawasaki Commercial High School, Nanzan International High School, Komono High School, Fukui Commercial High School, Yume-gakuen High School, Yokkaichi Commercial High School, Nagoya Midori High School, Meito High School, Shukutoku High School, Tezukayama Gakuen Izumigaoka Junior High and Senior High School, Nagoya Seiryo Commercial High School
Participants of the Mailing list: 125
Participants of the symposium or/and camp: 52

(2) Links

Asia-related links
http://210.235.197.2/asia/
http://210.235.197.2/nepal/
English report on Inet'97 (Kuala Lumpur)
http://www.isoc.org/isoc/whatis/conferences/
inet/97/proceedings/D2/D2_1.HTM
Seoul Girls' Commercial High school
1.5M connection
They have more than 200 personal computers connected to the Internet.
http://www.seoul-gchs.seoul.kr/
Taiwan Kaohsiung Girls Senior High School
Connected to Sun Yatsen University
http://ajet.kghs.kh.edu.tw/
Created by Makoto Kageto of Nagoya Seiryo Commercial High school
kageto@nagoya-seiryo-chs.nishi.nagoya.jp
http://210.235.197.2/kageto.html
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