Tokyo Institute of Technology: Global Leadership Practice 2022 with Georgia Tech held in HyFlex format


The Global Leadership Practice course(External site) in partnership with Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) has been held since 2018. This year’s event, arranged for the fifth time, was conducted from June 14 to 28. The first half of the nine lectures were held online, with the remainder delivered in HyFlex format (a combination of face-to-face and online methods). Twelve students participated in the intensive course to develop their leadership skills, focusing on self-evaluation, case studies, organizational observation and analysis, and a final team project. The students were able to actively interact with their classmates and lecturers through group discussions facilitated by the HyFlex approach.

Global Leadership Practice is one of the core subjects under the Global Awareness and Other Breadth Courses for students in the Advanced Global Scientists and Engineers Course (GSEC(External site)), which was established in 2013 to provide students with the skills and expertise necessary to become globally competitive scientists and engineers. As of July 2022, at total of 2,055 students have registered for GSEC, 47 of whom are in the Advanced GSEC course.

Interactive HyFlex lectures
In 2018 and 2019, Tokyo Tech invited a lecturer and a teaching assistant (TA) from Georgia Tech to Japan. In 2020 and 2021, classes were offered online due to the effects of COVID-19. To make the classes interactive, we used several online tools such as the “Pear Deck(External site)” learning platform, the “Mentimeter” interactive presentation software, and the video conference system “Blue Jeans.”

This year, it was planned to employ two different lecture styles. The first four lectures were to be held online, and the remaining five were to be held in person. A lecturer and a TA from Georgia Tech were initially invited to Tokyo Tech to offer face-to-face lectures on campus, but the lecturer was unable to physically attend, so a HyFlex system was immediately set up to save the day.

The HyFlex sessions were led by the Georgia Tech lecturer remotely from Atlanta. Connected via Zoom, she was able to oversee proceedings using a Logicool MeetUp camera equipped with a wide-angle lens and an extended microphone for better communication with students.

The Georgia Tech TA, who was able to come to Japan from the US, worked alongside Tokyo Tech TAs, instructors and staff members in answering questions from the students, helping them deepen their understanding of the lecture.

During the group discussions, each group used a Zoom Breakout Room on a separate computer to help eliminate background noise from the simultaneous conversations of students getting to grips with the topics at hand. The lecturer in Atlanta was also able to be involved directly, interacting with each group’s Breakout Room in turn.
To prevent feedback caused by the concurrent use of multiple microphones, the Zoom audio connection was switched on or off as required.

Students in Classroom
Participants from diverse backgrounds
This year, seven students from Japan, two from China, and three from Mongolia, Vietnam, and Indonesia respectively participated in the course. Joining the group of students were two Tokyo Tech TAs, one from Mexico and one from Egypt, a lecturer and a TA from Georgia Tech in the US, and a guest speaker from Vietnam. Japanese participants, consisting of students who have studied or are planning to study abroad were eager to interact with their international counterparts and TAs.

Lecturers in active learning style
Global Leadership Practice was developed based on the leadership program at Georgia Tech. This year’s course content reflected feedback from participants from the last four years. Before implementation, instructors from the two institutions planned and discussed the contents and pedagogy. In the US, a significant number of tasks are assigned to students before and after each class, where active participation is expected. Students are asked to read a textbook on leadership, and to write blog articles based on personal leadership experiences. These practices were also adopted at Tokyo Tech.

Students were requested to attend an orientation session beforehand, where they received the course manual. This manual covered the main points of each lecture and assignments for the course, and proved especially helpful for Japanese students during group work and discussions with international students.

While the use of English and an active learning style throughout the course challenged some students, instructors made available various learning platforms to enhance active participation. Students were asked to use Pear Deck to share what they felt was the most important thing they learned from each lesson. During breaks, participants shared and listened to music through their computers. These activities helped students to get to know each other. The friendly atmosphere of the class and instructors resulted in active engagements for everyone during the online lectures.

The “100 Value Cards” assessment was also developed for online classes by utilizing the “Miro(External site)” online whiteboard. Through this assessment, students learned how to develop their leadership skills by focusing on their own strengths, values, and capabilities before the face-to-face classes.

The “100 Value Cards” assessment on Miro The “100 Value Cards” assessment on MiroShare opinions on Pear Deck Share opinions on Pear Deck
Learning from a multicultural team
In the latter half of the course, students gathered in a classroom and learned how collaboration with team members can help extract these strengths from each member while transforming one’s own values and goals into reality. Participants also learned how to adjust issues and develop problem-solving skills in a multicultural environment. Specifically, they were asked to develop some new equipment “to solve a problem in the world” in a short period of time with only ten items such as a piece of cardboard, a pet bottle, etc. Created products included a robot named “Chat-With-Me” to help the elderly feel less isolated, a “Morning Hydrangea” flower decoration to start the day feeling fresh, and a garbage-separation stand for hygiene management and environmental preservation. Through this task, students learned how to build teamwork and leadership skills in order to realize a common goal within their group.

Students also studied various kinds of leadership in different countries based on egalitarian and hierarchical concepts that take into consideration history, culture, and customs. The participants shared various types of leadership styles based on their experiences. It was understood from this session that decision-making styles differ from country to country, and students learned about the characteristics of each style along with ways to deal with unconscious biases.

Study of multicultural team building continued in the next session, which was led by Dr. Minh Nguyen, a Tokyo Tech alumnus currently working for Google Japan Inc. After listening to Dr. Minh’s lecture and experiences in both Japanese and multinational companies, students reflected on how to turn their ideas and goals into reality in terms of their own career development.

Final presentation session
On the last day of the course, three student groups presented their comparative analyses of two different leaders. Students spoke about the societal influence and leadership qualities of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mother Teresa, Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara, Japanese industrialist Eiichi Shibusawa, Alibaba founder Jack Ma, President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan, and Meta Platforms COO Sheryl Sandberg. After the presentations, students discussed how they could apply their newly acquired knowledge on leadership to their own paths.

Overall, the HyFlex intensive course stimulated students and boosted their growth through a mix of lectures and active learning, challenging them to step out of their comfort zones. Instructors and TAs provided feedback on each student’s learning and development after course completion. At first, the students were nervous about meeting their classmates in person for the first time since COVID-19 measures were put in place. However, any such fears quickly abated as they fully and enthusiastically engaged with each other. Some students talked about their future study abroad plans and exchanged contact information with the goal of meeting again overseas.

Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 era, the Global Leadership Practice intensive course provided a beneficial learning opportunity for students to acquire a more international outlook regardless of their location.

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