Important: Notice Regarding Classes for the Second Half of the Year 2020
Throughout the first semester, teaching and administrative staff focused all efforts on facilitating online classes on short-notice, prioritizing students’ needs, and minimizing disruption as much as possible. It was an enormous challenge for everyone, students and staff. We thank everyone for their patience and understanding as we made these changes. Please refer to the “Status of Initiatives Aimed at Implementing and Supporting Online Learning for the First Half of the Year 2020 at Musashino University,” as shown below.
This message outlines some matters of student interest concerning the first semester of online courses and our planning for the second semester.
1. Results of the Questionnaire Survey on the First Half of the Year Classes
The key results include 75.7% of the respondents found that they could understand the classes “very well” or “well” throughout the first half of the year (up 8.2 percentage points from the previous year) which was a positive indicator of our efforts to enrich our classes. Some of the positive comments included, “Class explanations and answers to questions were easy to understand”, “I can learn at my own pace”, and “I am able to learn more deeply”. It can also be taken as evidence that our students are learning autonomously even while they are in a difficult position and that our online-oriented classes have achieved certain educational results.
Other opinions and suggestions to improve the contents and form of classes included “there are many assignments with short deadlines”, “the sound and environment of classes is poor”, “the contents are difficult” and “classes advance quickly”. This is due in part to the online environment that teachers and students are experiencing for the first time. Before starting the classes for the second half of the year, we shared the results of the survey, including comments, with all our departments, and we intend to continue to do our best as a university to further improve our classes by focusing on dealing with the identified problems.
2. Classes for the Second Half of the Year
On the other hand, in light of the requests that we received in the class survey to resume face-to-face sessions and in particular, from the fact that our first-year students have not yet experienced learning on campus, we have recognized the need to explore the possibility of providing opportunities to have face-to-face learning, in a limited way, in addition to the experiments and workshops, while continuing online learning in the second half of the year.
In addition, on September 10, Tokyo lowered its warning level for the status of COVID-19 infections by one level, from the most serious level on the scale of four of “the infection is spreading,” to “people need to be vigilant about a second wave of the infection.” While society as a whole is gradually resuming its activities with a view to coexisting with COVID-19, on considering the fact that new cases are on the decline, we will continue to revise our policy for managing our classes according to the best advice. It is important to find the right balance between offering classes on campus, to alleviate some of the anxieties that come with studying alone, away from campus and friends, and the concerns that come with preventing serious infections and the spread of COVID-19. It is a difficult balance at the moment but we work every day to find those answers.
We continue to carefully monitor the infection rates in the greater Tokyo metropolitan area, and will notify students of alterations to class schedules, when it will be safe to visit the campuses on a faculty and department basis, and the use of on-campus facilities such as the library and cafeterias. If we determine we can safely provide opportunities to learn on-campus while implementing measures to avoid the 3Cs (avoiding crowded areas, closed-in spaces and close contact settings) even if it is only for a few times during the term. If the situation allows, we are planning to arrange opportunities to conduct face-to-face sessions in stages even for subjects being taken by students in the second-year or above. This does not mean that you are obligated to take face-to-face sessions, and on considering those students who have commuting difficulties, we will continue to operate to allow students to take online sessions only, even for subjects in which face-to-face sessions can be conducted.
3. What We Want You to Keep in Mind
Firstly, take all necessary actions so that you those around you do not become infected. The university will continue to take the necessary infection prevention measures. We would like to ask our students to continue to refrain from any actions that may lead to the spread of the infection and to take reasonable actions during their commute, when they enter the campus and also in their daily lives as a matter of course. In an era in which we may need to learn to coexist with the coronavirus, it is important for our students to be aware of their roles and responsibilities. We ask for your continued understanding and cooperation to help prevent the spread of the infection in our university and in society without letting your guard down as the campus opens on a limited basis.
Secondly, while we have students and faculty members who are anxious to resume face-to-face sessions, we hope you understand that there are also some people who do not feel comfortable in resuming face-to-face sessions or on-campus activities in the present circumstances. In order to safely resume campus operations and activities, the support of all members of our University community—students (and their families), staff responsible for teaching classes and administrative staff who support those classes. We need to be aware that some people may have underlying health conditions, may be in residence with elderly family members, may feel uneasy about their own circumstances, and so on. It is important to recognize and respond to a range of circumstances
Lastly, we hope for the good health of our students and university community members. Our faculty members are hoping that the spread of COVID-19 infection will end as soon as possible and that the day will come when our students can freely enjoy interactions on campus.
President, Musashino University
for the First Half of the Year 2020 at Musashino University
|Measures||Details of Initiatives|
|End the suspension of classes||By setting a preparatory period for online learning over three weeks in April, commence education by combining (1) class alternatives (e.g. assignments, reports) and (2) learning via online sessions, without changing the academic calendar.|
|Development of an online learning support system|
|Economic support system||Provide learning support benefits for the spread of the COVID-19 infection (deduct 50,000 yen for all students from the tuition fees for the second half of the year).|
|Functional expansion of Learning Support System|
|Enhancement of communication means with teachers||Streamline communication methods between teachers and students for online learning and expand the university-wide provision of adequate guidance by answering questions, advising on corrections, and having questions and answers (secure interactivity).|
|Development of teaching skills for teachers||Conduct training sessions that specialize in the development of educational skills for online learning for faculty members.|
|Sale of textbooks and provision of services with a library function|
|Consideration for evaluation of grades||Request that all teachers consider the status of class participation and efforts and the submission of assignments by students who are having difficulties in adapting to online sessions when evaluating their grades.|
|Creation of opportunities to re-acquire units||Create opportunities for freshmen students who are performing poorly in subjects that are important to advance to acquire units (evaluation of C) by separately conducting additional studies, such as catch-up classes and additional assignments.|
|Examination and improvement of educational contents||Conduct a “Class Evaluation Survey” among students and teachers, respectively, that will contribute to guaranteeing the quality of education and improving students’ level of satisfaction.|
|Provision of a place for students to communicate||Utilize Microsoft365 “Yammer” (released on campus only) and provide a platform to form a network community space mainly composed of students. Going forward, promote (1) obtaining club information, (2) having consultations with seniors in the same department, and (3) communication across departments.|