In modern times smart phones and internet technology have merged online and offline activities. YU’s new Educational Portal System, which will go online in the first semester of 2011, is an educational system that reflects this changing environment. This system aims to create a more convenient educational environment by organizing and linking online and offline resources. It takes into consideration the convenience of both students and professors. On the other hand, there are some deficiencies that could be overlooked by students and professors. Therefore, YNO looks into parts of this system focusing on three questions “how to use it?”, “how will it change campus life”, and “how is it an improvement?”
Educational Portal System is implemented in order to harmonize online and offline resources. YU's new system consists of YUCC, E-stage, Mobile Learning and a variety of other services. This system was also recognized at a preliminary contest for IMS LIA (Instructional Management System Learning Impact Award) 2011 in September 2010 and qualified for the finals. IMS LIA has been organized by IMS GLC (Global Learning Consortium) and is one of the most prominent award programs in the area of e-learning.
Funds for constructing the system came primarily from YU funds, and it had been supported from 2005 to 2010 in part by the Education Capability Reinforcement Business in the area of e-learning which has also received funding from the Ministry of Education Science and Technology.
YUCC (Yeungnam User Created Contents) is comprised of educational content which is created, uploaded, and shared by students. E-stage deals with cyber space for uploading and reviewing real time recorded lectures. The Blended Learning System is a new method for delivering lectures which utilizes online and offline resources for individual lectures. Finally, the Mobile Learning System allows users to access almost any online system via smart phones. Of course, the Educational Portal System includes other systems such as a means for preventing plagiarism, webcam education, and educational services for students enrolled at YU. Even those who are not enrolled can access this system. Although all of these services are worthy of investigation we will focus on the four systems which are related to creating an educational environment in a ubiquitous university.
YUCC is the most student-centered service in YU's Educational Portal System. Students can participate in building up the YUCC through YUCC Education Content Contests and the YUCC student clubs. The 1st YUCC Educational Content Contest was held during the first semester of 2010. This contest will be held once a quarter and 4 times a year beginning in the first semester of 2011. The 1st YUCC Education Content Contest included a 4 round team selection process. Each round took 2 to 3 weeks, and the selected teams participated in the next round. However beginning with the next contest, there will be no rounds, and all winners will be selected at one time. Additionally, the second contest will be for individuals and not teams. Some winners will be awarded prize money, and they will be able to participate in the Meiji University interchange program. This interchange program includes many opportunities such as cooperation with Meiji University students to create educational content and provide guidance for getting better understanding about the university. The cost for the interchange program will be totally covered by YU. Additional negotiations for a greater variety of programs have also been ongoing with Waseda University.
The YUCC student clubs will be supported by the Center for Teaching and Learning according to their report about plans to create 50 educational programs based on one theme. The center will support about 3 clubs in 2011. Existing and newly established clubs can both submit reports. Some support funds will be provided for each accepted entry. The money will be disbursed after the center checks the content. If clubs require space for creating content, the center will allow them to use some of their studios. They are also considering recognizing the activities of clubs by presenting award certificates. Additionally, clubs will be able to flexibly communicate with the center about their needs.
The Center for Teaching and Learning has also planned to offer content regarding hobbies, personal specialties, know-how in education, and courses for majors. They also expect that these activities will improve student presentation skills and planning abilities. Students can give and receive mentoring by building the YUCC on their own. This means that boundaries which have existed between teachers and students can be broken and a broader educational environment will be created. Students and professors can also use this activity as a reviewing and testing method for their presentation ability and comprehension levels.
There are of course some bugs that still need to be worked out. For starters, there may be some deficiencies in creating programs and trouble with the uploading process. YUCC uses SilverStream as the system platform. However, in some ways it is not suitable for all YUCC functions. If any mistakes are made in the recording process, students will have to re-enter all of their data. This program also sometimes ignores some auto running animation effects in power point files. Additionally, during the 1st YUCC Education Content Contest there were some difficulties with uploading YUCC files to the contest homepage. Only 10 teams out of 187 in all were affected by the trouble, but it is a problem which should not be disregarded.
During the first contest, there were also some unforeseen issues. Some support funds which were scheduled to be paid before the start of each round were not paid until after the next round started excluding the first round. Another issue was that final exams took place during the contest schedule. This created confusion with the original contest schedule such as screening terms and submission dates by imposing burdens not only on the Center for Teaching and Learning but also participating students. These small problems can damage the image of the contest and decrease the participation rate. For example, Tae-Hyun Kim, a free major sophomore who participated in the 1st YUCC Education Content Contest, experienced some inconveniences. While he was preparing for the third round, the original three weeks allotted for the preparatory period was reduced to a week because of final exams. Also, when he tried to upload his finished content, it wouldn’t upload. He called and left the uploading process to the center.
According to the Center for Teaching and Learning, problems about scheduling will be solved by rearranging their schedule in advance. Beginning with the 2nd YUCC Education Content Contest, there will be a one round system, so overall term risks will be reduced. Participants will be made aware of problems with SilverStream and the uploading process will be presented beforehand at the orientation. The center will also assist with the uploading process and selection process toward content of good quality by screening the winners’ work and clubs’ reports.
As previously stated, E-stage refers to cyber space used for uploading and reviewing real time recorded lectures. It will be applied to original language lectures such as English and Japanese which are sometimes difficult to fully comprehend during the actual lectures. This service can be utilized by students as well as professors. It will allow students to review material efficiently, and professors will be able to monitor their lectures.
The Blended Learning System
The Blended Learning System differs from E-stage, but it is also designed to combine online and offline resources. E-stage allows for real time recorded lectures for reviewing purposes, but the Blended Learning System uses online lectures in part to create greater efficiency in education. It will be applied to the lectures of professors who want to use the system and will gradually expand its range of applications in the first semester of 2011. Plans are in place for a trial application for 10 lectures. There were already four professors who wanted to use the system in early January. One is from the Department of Humanities and the others are from the Department of Engineering. Concrete plans for applying lectures are divided into offline and online components. The online lectures will cover simple information which can be acquired by taking notes for up to 75 minutes a week. The offline component will be composed of education applications such as presentations, discussions, and tests for up to 75 minutes a week. Online participation will include a mandatory attendance check program which has been used with previous internet lectures. The Center for Teaching and Learning will manage basic settings for online lectures, but they will not manage professors’ original teaching skills.
This system is expected to increase the efficiency of lectures. Students will be able to manage their studying hours because they can take online lectures before offline lectures. There are no more restrictions. In addition, offline lectures can apply educational content that has been created before lectures through online lectures. Efficient review is also one of the advantages. Professors can save time when preparing lectures. This is because online lectures will be able to be used continuously.
However, this system also has some shortcomings. First of all, the participation of professors is lacking when compared with the center’s expectations. This problem seems to be caused by professors’ lack of understanding and mistrust about the effectiveness of the system. According to the center, they are continuously in contact with professors in order to explain the system. The situation will also improve after the test application and the effectiveness of the system is confirmed. Another problem is the shortage of realistic educational checking system. The checking program of the Blended Learning System appraises the attitude of students in online lectures through online lectures’ running time. It means the program is not aware of what students do during online lectures. The Center for Teaching and Learning will try to provide high quality online lectures which will increase students desire to learn.
The Mobile Learning System
The final part we will examine is the Mobile Learning System. Through this system, smart phones can access online university resources such as E-stage, YUCC, and the Blended Learning System. YUCC will use the established homepage that was used for the 1st YUCC Educational Content Contest. E-stage will also replace internet lectures on YU’s main homepage. This system will make YU’s educational environment more flexible. Students can learn wherever and whenever they wish. There are many short educational items about 5 to 10 minutes in length which are supplied by YUCC Education Content Contests and the YUCC student clubs. This will allow students to review lectures they have taken. Simple messages are able to create connections between professors and students, or students and students. Other tasks like assignments and grade checking can also be done.
However, there is a problem about the distribution rate of smart phones. Currently, there is no concrete data about the distribution rate of smart phones. In addition, it can be a bit of a burden to students to buy smart phones. In order to address this problem, YU and the student council can help to make better conditions for buying smart phones by negotiating with retail outlets such as SK, LG, and KT, but there are no concrete plans yet.
The first semester of 2011 is the starting point for the YU's Educational Portal System and it will be the trial period for creating the new educational environment that YU is hoping for. There are clearly some shortcomings but if YU consistently considers the opinions of students and professors, these issues can be resolved easily. The most important thing is the active participation of students and professors as the end users of the new educational system. Natural communication between the users and YU is necessary if the system is to develop effectively.