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ECU, Chinese sudent share classroom, technology, friendships

(July 12, 2003)   —   Until this week, ECU senior Joseph Wolyniak knew his assigned partner for his summer honors course only as Jimmy, a college student from China's Soochow University with interests in religion, family and basketball.

That all changed Monday when the two met via internet conferencing with about a dozen other student partnerships involved in East Carolina University's latest global classroom. Roughly six-thousand miles apart, students and officials from the two universities exchanged brief greetings, enthusiastic hand waves and a promise of partnership.

"This if the first of many virtual partnerships," said Provost William Swart, from behind a pirate purple clad table decorated with a Chinese and an American flag. "It represents the way of tomorrow. So tomorrow starts today at East Carolina University and Soochow University."

Coordinated by Dr. Rosina Chia with ECU's Department of Psychology and Dr. Elmer Poe with the College of Technology and Computer Science, the class aims to promote a cross-cultural experience while teaching students about technology.

"I grew up with one foot in the U.S. and one in China," said Chia, who addressed the classroom from Soochow. "One of my goals is to bridge the gaps between the two cultures."

This week students will meet twice a day for three hour sessions. Class topics range from cyber ethics to philosophy to religion.

But the most critical element, said ECU's Bill McPherson — an instructor for a technology section of the class — is conversation.

"The most important component is discussion," he told students. "The content is less important than the contact and the methodology."

Elmer Poe, also in China, called the two universities pioneers in the advanced, affordable technology. "We are 6,000 miles separated, but we sit together in the same classroom," he said.

Just a one-second delay separated the two universities in the communication, which is through a standard internet connection. There are no satellites, high speed connections or costs beyond those of the equipment.

"In essence, as far as ECU is concerned, the cost of the seminar is free," Poe said. Organizers hope the course serves as a pilot program for future global classrooms — potentially involving two or three countries at once.

ECU students will continue to meet in Rawl 105 through Friday, July 18.

Until this week, ECU senior Joseph Wolyniak knew his assigned partner for his summer honors course only as Jimmy, a college student from China's Soochow University with interests in religion, family and basketball.

That all changed Monday when the two met via internet conferencing with about a dozen other student partnerships involved in East Carolina University's latest global classroom. Roughly six-thousand miles apart, students and officials from the two universities exchanged brief greetings, enthusiastic hand waves and a promise of partnership.

"This if the first of many virtual partnerships," said Provost William Swart, from behind a pirate purple clad table decorated with a Chinese and an American flag. "It represents the way of tomorrow. So tomorrow starts today at East Carolina University and Soochow University."

Coordinated by Dr. Rosina Chia with ECU's Department of Psychology and Dr. Elmer Poe with the College of Technology and Computer Science, the class aims to promote a cross-cultural experience while teaching students about technology.

"I grew up with one foot in the U.S. and one in China," said Chia, who addressed the classroom from Soochow. "One of my goals is to bridge the gaps between the two cultures."

This week students will meet twice a day for three hour sessions. Class topics range from cyber eth

 


Contact: ECU News Bureau | 252-328-6481