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Over half of univ. students

in Japan positive

about online lectures

Kyodo News

A majority of university and postgraduate students in Japan are willing to participate in interactive online lectures as many institutions delay the start of classes amid the coronavirus epidemic, a recent survey showed.

But while 59.2 percent were positive about online classes, 21.0 percent said they did not wish to take part, reflecting concerns about the quality of education that remote learning provides and finding the right environment for participating.

The questionnaire was conducted late last week by Nihon University professor Tetsuya Usui on 1,572 university and graduate school students via social media.

The education ministry said Tuesday 65.8 percent of state-run universities and 35.9 percent of private universities and junior colleges in Japan have decided to introduce remote teaching.

The move came as 78.9 percent of nationwide higher education institutions delayed the start of their classes in the new academic year, which begins in April.

According to Usui's survey, 71.5 percent preferred lecture videos to be available on demand, while 15.3 percent said they want to join live interactive classes. Another 13.2 percent wanted the lessons to be live but not interactive.

As for settings to take such online classes, 99.7 percent said they own devices such as laptops or smartphones, while 0.3 percent answered they have "none." Altogether, 95.6 percent of students said they have Wi-Fi at home but 0.5 percent said they do not have any internet access.

While some said in the questionnaire they "look forward" to online lectures and that the practice "breaks from conventional mindsets," a majority worried about whether they will be able to concentrate at home or hold active discussions with other students and lecturers.

"University students are used to watching videos, so we need to make (the online lessons) interesting for (the students) to follow them," Usui said. "We need to effectively utilize the online tools available."

Nagoya University of Commerce and Business started the new semester Monday by making all lectures available online in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The lessons are streamed live and professors can communicate with students via a monitor. The system, which allows the students to interact with each other remotely, is also introduced in seminars.

All students were given free laptops to join the online classes and the university made 30 classrooms available on campus to film the lectures. Around 300 such lessons will be held by May 26, according to the school.

"I was able to hold a lesson as usual, but it's sad without the students," said professor Satoshi Yoshii, 42, who teaches economics at the central Japan university. "I want to be careful about not making classes one-way."