Osaka Gakuin University
Long-distance technology, provided by Sony, enabled me to teach communication skills from my home on the North Shore of Oahu (Pupukea), to students attending Osaka Gakuin University (OGU) in Osaka Japan. For 10 semesters (beginning in 2002), with the invaluable support of my teaching assistant and our technical team, I was able to teach OGU students to confidently speak in public. These students came from all four years of college, from several majors and from OGU's extension program. My TA and I discovered in the first semester that, while English language competency was important, the desire to take the class (motivation) was even more important. During registration, my teaching assistant often chose the more highly motivated student over the better English speaker when the size of the class was an issue. After one semester the Web Cam was replaced with the Sony Codec system. This upgrade greatly enhanced both delivery and reception. My TA and I were able to conduct classes without technical help; although technical assistance was readily available.
Toward the end of each semester, I was invited to Japan to meet with classes in person. Although my students and I felt that we knew one another, it was very exciting to be in the same room. During the time I was in Osaka teaching my classes live, my TA, Yasuko Kudo sensei (my teaching assistant for four of the five years)and I, put together a program for OGU faculty and students to showcase what the communication skills students had learned. The advanced class gave speeches using rhetorical language and sometimes debated while the basic classes gave short speeches and read oral interpretation selections. The audiences reported that every semester the students and the program improved. .I couldn’t have been more proud of my students.
Although my pride in my students' progress was enormous, the award I received on January 21, 2008 from OGU was equal to or surpassed my delight in my students' successes. On that date, I received the award of professor emeritus from Osaka Gakuin University. Although it was a complete surprise to me until five minutes before the ceremony, it was an extraordinarily academic, well-planned, impressive event. The president, the academic deans, the administration, and I (attired shortly before the ceremony) wore academic gowns with colorful hoods. Just before entering the room where the academicians were waiting, I was instructed how to enter and leave the room, and more importantly, how to bow appropriately and to whom. I consider it to be an academic and cultural thrill of a lifetime.
There are photographs of the participants in the academic ceremony and a few highlights of the five years.. See photo page.