Up until recently, Japan has held a very strict ruling on university degrees, minus the option of online course work. Today, Cyber University has been established by Sakuji Yoshimura, a popular Egyptologist in Japan and a subsidiary of Softbank Corporation. Since April, this exclusive online university offers full degrees without stepping in the doorway of any university or professor office.
Opening the doors in April, each faculty which has the ability to take up 600 students each semester has had 516 students’ cash in on this new educational adventure. Unlike American online universities though, the students are able to get a four-year degree which differs from the traditional two-year associate’s degree. In fact, the degrees that are offered are some of the highest paying careers in the world such as business and engineering.
Uncertain at first, it is hard to believe that students are actually sitting in front of a computer screen long enough to pay attention to the course work at hand. Cyber University has caught up with the lazy college student though and has structured the online courses to prevent sleeping while doing the work at hand. Each college course is taught alongside the curriculum that is taught in the traditional classroom. Therefore, each student must watch a list of lectures that have been placed via the internet. Every student has the option of watching the course lecture in what is referred to as real-time or any available moment of the week.
Real-time lectures are streamed online as the recording is taking place. So, a student that is attending (via the couch at home) will be able to watch and ask questions through a telephone hookup or a cyber chat. If the student is not available to watch the lecture during the recording session, then the student can watch the lecture online at a later date or time. All lectures must be watched for the course to be completed. In addition, for those lazy college students, the college has set up a policy that each student must send a message via the online chat every five minutes or at least move the computer mouse. If the student does not chat or move the mouse, then the student is considered absent. All examinations are also required to be taken online.
Personally, I have taken a two college courses through two different colleges. There was no established ‘check and balance’ policy though by either the college or professor; this was about three years ago. One course required me to enter the college and pick up a set of ten VHS tapes. I was then required to watch each one and complete the coursework bundle that was given along with the tapes on my own schedule. The other course was strictly a paper course; I was to read all the lectures given as a course bundle in the beginning of the semester and complete the homework at home. All homework was then to be handed in at the end of the semester. All quizzes online and examinations were then scheduled to be taken at a certain time and place.
In my experience, I would have preferred to have taken the Japanese online courses instead of the ones given by the American universities today. With the lack of structure in the lecture session, it was easy to fall behind or not complete all the coursework that was required. In addition, a preset examination schedule is hard to attend if working full-time while taking online college courses. There is a 20% fall out rate with online courses at this moment in Japan, in the future this will decrease once students find out that the Japanese online courses follow a rigid schedule, unlike the traditional pre-established courses. Therefore, serious students will be taking these courses which will also improve upon the overall enthusiasm levels in the cyber chats set aside for each class.
Japan seems to be crossing many borders among educational programs and technology, leaving American universities behind. Following tradition, I am more than certain that American educators will follow the lead of the Japanese in the nearest future. When American universities do catch up though, will they be too far behind? In my opinion, these universities are an answer to not only first-world country prayers, but also third-world countries without the money for teachers and school systems. But for now, Americans should strive to reach out to the Cyber University and learn from its success, and then rich America can spend money wisely and take the cyber school system to other countries that are lacking an educational system. The efforts of learning about this university will make a difference in our students tomorrow.