||Designing and managing a fully online university pre-enrolment course in Japan
5263 , 2017-03-07IATED Academy
In Japan the academic year starts in early April. Standard entrance exams are held each January and February, however some universities offer a limited number of students an opportunity to apply earlier. Depending on the university, provisional acceptance through this alternative is given up to ten months before lectures start. With no university entrance exams to prepare for, it is possible for students to experience a decline in study skills and knowledge during this interim period. To address this, it is common for universities to offer a pre-enrolment course, typically in the form of irregular on-campus events, paper-based correspondence courses or quiz-based online courses with little-to-no interaction with other students. However, the affordances of modern e-learning systems allow for the creation of a more engaging online environment. Students at the authors' university major in design and computer science-related fields. Computer literacy is essential; e-learning is part of their daily routine and they have to complete numerous tasks using computers. Three years ago, the authors designed a pre- enrolment English course with these students in mind. It has been created using the Moodle LMS for an annual cohort of 100 students who come from all over Japan. They generally have low technology skills, low English skills (CEFR A2 to B1), and no e-learning experience. The aims of the course are not only to improve their English, but to introduce them to e-learning, their future classmates, and university life. Analysis of activity logs and end-of-course surveys tells us what students thought of the course, and how they engaged with it, leading to suggestions for change. Generally, it proved to be a very positive experience for motivated students, but less so for those with lower motivation, the main target of the course.