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Interview with Jun Watanabe

E-learning and distance education are gaining more and more in importance these days. Here you can read an interview with Jun, the founder of OOEN — a large reference guide to online distance education.

English-test.net:
Hello Jun, could you please tell us where you are from?

Jun:
Japan.

English-test.net:
What is your profession?

Jun:
I'd like to think that, first and foremost, I am a (computer) software developer, although I have been spending a lot of time recently working on the business side of the operation of OOEN.

English-test.net:
What does your job entail?

Jun:
Developing and maintaining the online education portal site, OOEN including coding, online marketing, moderating forums and now and again writing commentaries on news in online distance education.

English-test.net:
When did you start using the internet?

Jun:
I actually started using the internet in my first year in college, so that would be 1995.

English-test.net:
Where and how did you acquire the knowledge and skills to set up and run your own website?

Jun:
I worked for a software company in California and then for a software company in New York. I acquired basic skills while working at these companies; the second job was much more demanding, but also fulfilling. Though I was in New York for only 2 years, I think I learned a lot. I didn't actually work on web development that much, but I had enough knowledge and experience to pick up the rest of the skills you need to set up and run my own website.

English-test.net:
Why did you choose online education as the basis of your project?

Jun:
This is a rather long story, but I'll try to make it short. Initially, I started developing OOEN more like a groupware, a combination of online education reference (online courses, online degree programs learning management systems) and; I was asked to join an education project for which I developed OOEN. The initial project is actually still up in the air for a number of different reasons, but OOEN started taking off on its own. As of right now, I am building my portal to become an independent online entity.

English-test.net:
How would you define the term «online education» in one sentence?

Jun:
It is simply how we'll learn and teach in the coming years, and the term will vanish more or less some time in the future.

English-test.net:
Could you please list three major advantages of online education?

Jun:
Availability
Accessibility
Cost effectiveness (in the sense that you don't need to relocate or arrange your other schedule to study online.)

English-test.net:
Do you think that it will be possible to obtain a university degree entirely through the internet?

Jun:
This is already possible. There are certain subjects that can't be taught online such as medicine (clinical skills), but that doesn't mean it will never be possible. It won't be possible in the next 5 - 10 years, but it might become possible in the next 15 - 20 years.

English-test.net:
Which countries would you regard as the pioneers in the field of online and distance education?

Jun:
The number one country in this area is the US. Despite the fact they are slow in adapting broadband for a couple of reasons, they embraced the internet widely before any other country; they also started using PC's before any other country did. Because of their highly developed infrastructure they were able to find a market for online education before anyone else, and it really started taking off a couple of years ago.

English-test.net:
Where do you see the role of ESL/EFIC in online education?

Jun:
If you want to succeed in business or any other field, strong language skills in English will be required in many cases. If you want to obtain a certain degree of English proficiency you have to attend a college or a university. However, now that online education is available you can virtually study at an English speaking university without leaving your native country. These new opportunities will increase the demand for ESL/EFIC programs and services. In many cases students will know exactly why they want to improve their English language skills: They want to enroll in a US or UK university. Of course, studying online in a second language is a great challenge to most people, and it is probably more challenging than studying in the conventional way. The ESL/EFIC market is closely connected to the growth in the online education industry. I would even say that ESL/EFIC is an integral part of e-learning.

English-test.net:
Many thanks for answering our questions. We are sure a lot of people will benefit from OOEN.
Author: english-test.net