TELECLASS THE WORLD HISTORY
Dr. John D. Wollstein, the former State Educational Specialist for Asian, European, and Pacific Languages, founded Teleclass International in Hawaii in 1983. Faced with the appalling drop-out rates of students from second language studies, Dr. Wollstein felt there existed an obvious need for a motivational tool to make foreign language and cross-cultural studies more personal and realistic.
For past ten years, Teleclass International Japan (TIJ), a non- profit educational organization, has sponsored and provided many Teleclass projects internationally. Telecommunications tools such as video phone, videoconferencing systems and e-mail have been used to promote international understanding and improve English conversation and communication abilities, mainly for K-12 Japanese students. Native languages of students involved include Japanese, Korean and some other languages.
TIJ uses a video phone system called Lumaphone to link to schools in Hawaii, the United States mainland, New Zealand, Australia, France, England, Slovakia, Belarus, Spain, Thailand, Korea and China. TIJ has emphasized the importance of having communicative linkages among Asian students and recently sent Lumaphones to schools in Korea, China, Nepal, Taiwan and the Philippines.
The number of videoconferences is also increasing. Forty-five ISDN videoconferences have been held with schools in Hawaii,America, France, Australia, Hong Kong, Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and China . Two big events, Student APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) in 1995 and ASIA in 1996, each linked students from five countries using a multipoint connecting system with the help of Kokusai Denshin Denwa (KDD) Co., Ltd.
One of the highlights of the videoconferencing activities occurred when the U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Hundt visited one of the Teleclass Net Schools in Osaka and joined a videoconference, sitting among students and talking to students in Hawaii face-to-face. He also talked with a teacher in Pennsylvania via Lumaphone during the Teleclass session. Since Teleclass projects are supported by the Japanese Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, TIJ appreciated Chairman Hundt's visit very much.
In addition to the international Teleclass, TIJ had Teleclass Local linking five high schools from Hokkaido to Okinawa in Japan. This project used both e-mail and video conference technologies. Those students who already had individual mail accounts talked and discussed topics through e-mail, and every other week they had a video conference linking five regions by Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation's (NTT's) multipoint connecting system. For each videoconference, one high school served as a host, and the host school students handled the conference set up and operation.
All these projects are components of Teleclass the World and are based upon the Teleclass spirit of "weaving the world into one" originated by Dr. John Wollstein, the Founder of Teleclass International in Hawaii.
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