Faculty Voice: Virtual Collaboration to Strengthen University-High School Connections – Prof. Tetsuya Toyoda

Zoom session screenshot showing university and high school participants in the collaborative program
Participants of the Workshop on “Law in International Society” on December 7, 2022

As we emerge from pandemic-era restrictions and face-to-face education is once again the norm, there are still opportunities to leverage the technical skills gained from virtual education to make connections that in-person classrooms cannot offer. Starting in December 2022, AIU began holding joint online sessions with high school students on topics related to international law and other subjects. Through these programs, AIU students, including exchange students, have the chance to present their learning in a workshop format, while high school students get to learn about international topics from an international panel of students in English.

1. Backgrounds and Purposes

  • The use of digital devices expanded during and after the two years’ experience of Covid-19 in Japanese high schools.
  • Despite the great opportunities offered by digital devices, high school students in Akita are yet to make full use of them for educational purposes.
  • On the AIU side, higher education today requires more and more learning autonomy and is becoming more and more output-oriented.
  • A workshop session near the end of the semester offers AIU students an opportunity to share their learning achievements with high school students, while high school students can have their first experience of an international workshop (in the sense that AIU has exchange students in the classes and the working language is English).
  • The outcome of the first workshop of the kind organized in December 2022 was very much positive both for high school students and AIU students (degree-seeking students and exchange students). Local high schools wish to have more of such workshops.

2. Topics and Dates

The first of the kind was organized on December 7, 2022, on “Law in International Society”

Workshops with the following topics are planned in 2023.

  • 1) “International Organizations Today” on July 14, 2023 at 16:15-18:00
  • 2) “Japanese Constitutionalism in Global Contexts” on December 7 and 12, 2023 at 16:15-16:45 on both dates
  • 3) “International Law in Crisis” on Monday, December 11, 2023 at 16:15-18:00

3. Participants

17 high school students participated in the workshop on Dec 7, 2022 (and 9 students participated from AIU). 29 high school students are expected to participate in the workshop on July 14, 2023 (and 18 from AIU).

4. Organization of the Workshops

The organization of the workshops varies greatly, but typically consists of an introduction by the instructor, group work, group reports in the plenary session, 2nd group work, and a final discussion.

5. Note for Partner Universities

Since the workshops are organized all online and fully in English, participation from overseas will be possible and most welcome. The indications of time above are all in Japanese Standard Time (9 hours ahead of GMT). Interested partners are welcome to contact the course instructor.