TTU's Bob Clougherty, grad student visit sister university in Japan

When Tennessee Tech University and Japan’s Dohto University teamed up last year to offer students at both an international Internet course for the first time, it was a technological collaboration with a global impact.

And Bob Clougherty, director of TTU’s Institute for Technological Scholarship, had the opportunity recently to see just how global that impact is.

He and graduate student Jessie Holt took a weeklong trip to Japan, where they visited Dohto University and gave a presentation about the collaborative class at a Web CT Japan conference.

Web CT, or Web Course Tools, is a program that allows instructors and students to coordinate course work via the Internet, and because of its progressive use of the program, TTU has the prestigious distinction of being considered a Web CT Institute.

“Our presentation at the Web CT Japan conference seemed to generate a lot of interest among some of the nation’s more prominent universities and smaller schools alike,” Clougherty said. “I expect to see similar educational partnerships developing in the future between other American and foreign universities.”

Visiting the Dohto campus was also a beneficial experience because it illustrated the cultural differences that sometimes limit the level of communication and interaction that’s possible. “I brought back a number of good ideas to possibly help students adapt to the class in the future,” he said.

Holt agreed, saying, “Some of their students have visited TTU, so it was an amazing opportunity for us to be able to turn the tables and see what the experience must have been like for them to come here.”

In addition to the significant time difference between Japan and here, other differences Holt said she noticed include the propensity of Dohto students to use cellular telephones instead of personal computers for electronic communication and limited computer lab availability.

“We seem to have the appliances for technology, while they seem to have the attitude for it, but that just goes to show how much we can learn from each other in spite of the distance,” she said. “In fact, I think those distance and language barriers will make both cultures more precise in its communication.”