Tokyo Institute of Technology: Institute-wide professional development 2021 session held online

As part of its systematic efforts to improve course content and provide students with an accessible, motivating learning environment, Tokyo Tech held its annual Institute-wide professional development session for faculty members online on December 6, 2021.

The overarching theme for this academic year was “Enhanced student-centered learning: Classroom design and in-lab education in the age of the new normal.” Despite being held online, the session once again aimed to propel the Institute towards the realization of innovative education where students learn and think for themselves, one of the three pillars of the education reforms Tokyo Tech initiated in 2016.

In previous years, this professional development session was held at an overnight off-campus location, but was moved online in 2020 in consideration of the continuous risks posed by COVID-19. In 2021, 49 faculty members, together with Tokyo Tech Auditors Yasutsugu Ogura and Mariko Mitsuya participating as observers, joined the event.

After opening greetings and a brief orientation, faculty members chose one of two Zoom breakout rooms — classroom design during the new normal, or in-lab education during the new normal. Once they had selected their room, participants quickly moved into open discussion mode, sharing past experiences and practices from their classrooms and laboratories.

During the open talk session that followed, Tokyo Tech President Kazuya Masu touched on a number of important sub-themes for this year, including projected future issues in online classes, the current state of master’s program lectures, and the importance of informal communication. Executive Vice President for Education Tetsuya Mizumoto continued with examples of how to proceed with classes and examples of in-lab education. This portion of the afternoon ended with a lively discussion between the president, executive vice president, and the participating faculty members.

EVP Mizumoto offering guidelines on how to conduct class
After a short breather, the groups continued to exchange ideas and prepare their presentations in their virtual breakout rooms. What followed were talks by each of the classroom design groups on topics such as ideal blends of online and in-person learning, methods for student performance evaluation, and the creation of on-demand materials. The in-lab education groups then continued with presentations on potential online lectures by alumni and the use of the online communication tool Slack to promote informal communication and mutual learning. Presenters also proposed the launch of online lab office hours so that students can interact and communicate more freely using Zoom.


Faculty group presentation
After the presentations, Professor Kenji Saito from Tokyo Tech’s Health Support Center concluded the session with a talk on in-lab education and support for adaptability and growth, offering his views on the psychological challenges that students continue to face during the COVID-19 pandemic and how faculty members can relate to these challenges in a laboratory setting.

Prof. Saito speaking about in-lab education and support for adaptability and growth

Prof. Saito speaking about in-lab education and support for adaptability and growth
Post-event questionnaire: 43 respondents (87.8 percent of participants)
91.6% of respondents agreed or somewhat agreed that they were satisfied with the session
Comments from participants:
“The discussions with other faculty members were very informative.”
“It was very helpful to gain a shared understanding of the problems and concerns faced by individual laboratories.”
Professional development for faculty 2021 program
Monday, December 6, 2021, 1:30 – 6:30 p.m. via Zoom

1.
Opening — President’s greeting
2.
Orientation
3.
Group activity 1: Discussion breakout session
Exchange of opinions, sharing of issues among groups A1-A3, B1-B4
4.
Talk 1: President Kazuya Masu
5.
Talk 2: Executive Vice President for Education Tetsuya Mizumoto
6.
Q&A session, discussion
7.
Group activity 2: Discussion breakout session,
Wrap-up of issues, proposals for solutions
8.
Presentations of ideas, Q&A for each group
9.
Lecture: In-lab education and support for adaptability and growth, Prof. Kenji Saito, Health Support Center
10.
Q&A session, discussion
11.
Closing
Despite the continued challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Tokyo Tech continues to ensure that its faculty members are prepared to provide students with an innovative, motivating learning environment.

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