Here and There: An Authentic Online Orientation Program

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David Laurence, Chubu University


Students preparing for study abroad often find themselves facing unknowns, not only about study but also about the basics of life in a foreign country. The ubiquity of Internet-mediated communication tools provides a useful forum for relieving this anxiety through communication with faculty at the destination school prior to departure. Faculty and graduate students at Chubu University and its sister school in the United States, Ohio University, collaborated to create a pilot orientation program to prepare Japanese students for study abroad, connecting them directly with faculty at Ohio University. The course used a combination of synchronous and asynchronous online communication and a variety of pedagogical tools, focused around a Moodle website and the use of Skype. Students had firsthand, real-time access to information about all aspects of their upcoming experience. In this paper I describe the planning, implementation, and outcomes of the course, with an eye towards future improvement.