Although technology is an important aspect of Japanese culture, learning via internet is a new concept that is only just emerging.

One NAU student is helping integrate online learning into Japanese classrooms, shifting the culture from teacher centered to a more interactive setting.

Eri Ono is originally from Osaka, Japan, where she taught middle school for four years. She received a master’s degree from NAU and is currently working on her Ph.D., focusing on distance education and introducing technology into the classroom.

Ono will receive the 2008 Award for Outstanding Practice by Students of Educational Technology in an International Setting from the International Division of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology.

The award is for a project regarding an online technology workshop for Japanese teachers. Ono will be presented with the award next month in Orlando, Fla.

“Based on my experience at NAU, I learned how technology can make our lives less challenging,” Ono said. “This experience inspired me to introduce a new way of learning to Japanese teachers.”

The Japanese government enacted a new law requiring teachers to attend a mandatory workshop in order to renew their licenses. Among 101 workshops, only one is offered online. This is where Ono’s project came into play.

“We just don’t have an online learning system in Japan,” Ono said. “It’s always face-to-face learning. Most teachers have no idea you can learn via classmates online by doing group work and hands-on activities. In Japan we are always teacher centered.”

For her project Ono incorporated an “American style” of learning, which included digital storytelling with PowerPoint presentations.

“The students loved the group work and hands-on activities,” Ono said. “I asked them to create a one-minute self-introduction, and they were so excited that most of them produced a much longer project.”

Her next goal is to introduce to more of what she learned at NAU to Japanese culture, including distance education.

Ono has had a positive experience at NAU. She worked as a teacher’s assistant and introduced new technology to the class.

“American teachers have a very open minded attitude toward their students,” Ono said. “I was really thankful to be a TA in such a class. With my language I never thought I could get a position, but the instructors were very generous.”