Online study abroad programs grab attention in times of pandemic

ByMike V. Cooper

May 13, 2021

With the coronavirus pandemic restricting overseas travel, online study abroad programs have gained attention in Japan.

While there are several issues with these courses, including those involving jet lag, some experts express the hope that people will use such programs to prepare for the time when they actually study abroad after graduation. COVID-19 situation will have calmed down.

According to the Japanese Ministry of Education, the number of Japanese studying abroad has increased in recent years.

In fiscal 2019, however, the number of such students declined 6.8% from the previous year, apparently due to the spread of the coronavirus in the spring, when many people travel to study at the ‘foreigner.

As an alternative, a growing number of students who could not travel outside of Japan have switched to online programs, which allow them to study at foreign universities and other educational institutions without having to be there. physically.

Moe Kitagaki, 24, a graduate student at Kogakuin University, had planned to study architecture in Italy from October last year. His plan, however, fell through due to the coronavirus crisis.

Recommended by a member of the university staff, Kitagaki began taking online classes twice a week from February this year.

“The advantage (of the online program) is that I am able to understand how the lessons are going,” Kitagaki said, adding that she was planning to study in Italy from October this year if the infections at coronavirus were under control.

Kaho Kamiyama, a 22-year-old student studying cultural anthropology at Miyazaki Municipal University, gave up his plan to study in Indonesia last year.

Kamiyama started taking online classes five days a week from February of this year. In the program, Kamiyama reads research papers and gives a presentation after listening to a three-hour lecture held in the local language.

While noting that the online program has advantages, such as cheaper tuition fees, Kamiyama said, “As cultural anthropology is largely based on fieldwork, it is disappointing that I cannot m ‘engage in such activities. “

Daiki Masumoto, a 25-year-old graduate student at the Kyushu Institute of Technology, had majored in renewable energy engineering since August 2019 at an Icelandic university.

After returning to Japan in March of last year due to the spread of the coronavirus, Masumoto took online classes from home.

As Japan is nine hours ahead of Iceland, Masumoto is currently attending classes from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Japanese time.

Masumoto’s days and nights are reversed as he sometimes stays awake until around 6 a.m. to work on homework with other students in Iceland.

“It’s difficult because my family and I have very different paces of life,” said Masumoto.

Yukari Kato, editor-in-chief of foreign education magazine Ryugaku Journal, said, “Although (online programs) cannot replace experiences that can only be gained over the course of one’s life at home. ‘abroad, they encourage people to test their language skills because (such programs) alleviate worries over time and money. “

“I hope people will make good use of the online programs so that they can experience a much more positive outcome when they go to study abroad,” Kato said.

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