Tuesday, February 26, 2013

University of Tokyo launched real MOOC

I explained in my previous post that there is no real MOOC in Japan and the most similar ones are the lecture videos and lecture materials provided on line. The two biggest differences between real MOOC and Japanese online lecture videos are that (1) most lectures are conducted in Japanese, and (2) MOOC is a real course where interactive communication is possible.

On February 22, the University of Tokyo announced that it will launch a real MOOC using the existing Coursera service. What is epoch-making is that the new course will be (1) conducted in English and (2) will have interactive communication functions and exams, which, by passing, a participant may receive a certificate.

One of the two lectures initially offered are "Conditions of War and Peace" by Professor Kiichi Fujiwara. He is a famous international politics professor of the law faculty whose current research is mainly focused on national security issues. He was a Fulbright student at Yale and one of the few professors of our law faculty who can fluently give a lecture in English. As there are many difficult war and peace issues regarding East Asia and Far East, such as the territorial disputes and security treaties, I believe that Professor Fujiwara will give some insight on these issues from a Japanese scholar's viewpoint.

The other is by Dr. Hitoshi Murayama on the universe entitled "From the Big Bang to Dark Energy."

It is announced that the two courses are provided for the purpose of "demonstrative experiment." This means that the University of Tokyo wants to understand what MOOC is by actually providing these two courses. I believe that the success of these two courses will lead to a full-scale line up of MOOC courses by the University of Tokyo. So, it is crucial that many people sign up for the course and make use of this great occasion.

I believe that in the world where the international competition of universities is really keen, MOOC is one of the best ways to show the competitiveness of a university. Historically, the presence of the University of Tokyo has been big, at least in Asia, but recently, the presence of HKU, NUS, Seoul University, Peking University and other great Asian universities is becoming ever bigger. Also, now the competition is not just Asia-wide but global-wide. In order to attract brilliant people from all over the world, MOOC is a good way to show the excellence of the lectures conducted at the University of Tokyo. I believe that MOOC will make the University of Tokyo a big name internationally.

One thing to note is that the lectures start from September. It seems that they need some time for preparation but until then, you can watch videos of some English courses I recommended in my previous post.


DISCLAIMER: "IT Law issues in Japan" only provides general information about Japanese information technology law and does not, under any circumstances, constitute legal advice. You should first obtain the advice of professional legal counsel who is qualified in Japan before acting or refraining from acting based on this blog.

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