History of Online purchase Education in Japan
| Prof. Steve McCarty - 02 May 2021
Steve McCarty was born in Boston and became a full Professor in Japan. He currently lectures for Osaka Jogakuin University and the Japanese government international agency JICA. Since 1998 he is President of the World Association for Online Education. He has delivered keynote addresses at eight international e-learning conferences. He has taught classes at three graduate schools. At Kansai University from 2015-2020 he taught international ICT classes and held a unique Global Faculty Development position. His CV currently lists 235 publications and 91 presentations, with more than 420 citations recognized by Google Scholar. He publishes on e-learning, bilingualism, language teaching, Japan, Asia, and the academic life.
Our story begins in 1995, as I told World Association for Online Education (WAOE) participants in various countries in a meeting held by Zoom in 2021. Universities in non-Western countries including my college in Japan were just getting connected to the Internet. The new Netscape browser pioneered an experience of surfing the Web that remains similar even today. Windows 95 was so popular in Japan that some men got in line to buy it who did not even have a computer! Some who did have a new computer brought it back for repairs saying that the drink holder was broken the CD-ROM disk drive!
 In any event, I immediately began using the Internet with students to broaden their horizons and connect them to the world of English users. There was already Internet radio as well as linked Websites. Realizing the potential of online education, I soon found networks of academics based in North America who were discussing the new possibilities of online classes. In late 1995 I joined the planning for the first large-scale completely online international academic conference, based at the University of Hawaii.
  The first Teaching in the Community Colleges TCC Online Conference was held in early 1996, 25 years ago. From then on, conference papers were distributed online before the conference, and each presentation had a session in real-time during the conference days. In e-learning terms, online academic conferences have been both synchronous and asynchronous. Synchronous events cannot be flexible in timing or accommodate all world time zones, so I had to camp out in my college office overnight as a presenter.
  For the 1997 TCC Online Conference, I was Program Chair with an international committee of presentation proposal reviewers. The conference was still free, which I loved because educators and researchers at all levels in most countries could access for the first time such valuable opportunities for professional development. Without the barrier of being able to send U.S. dollars, the 1997 conference reached over 1,800 international participants.
From 1998, however, the conference started charging a fee. While finding the exclusiveness regrettable, I was nevertheless invited to deliver the opening keynote address. My presentation called for voluntary sharing of knowledge, international collaboration, turning online education into a professional discipline, and forming an organization for the conference period and year-round networking.
  After the 1998 conference, discussions continued in various online forums such as e-mail discussion lists and electronic bulletin board systems, resulting in the World Association for Online Education (WAOE). Among the necessary tasks were online elections, and I have been leading the organization since then. The Web domain waoe.org was secured from Eastern Europe, and the WAOE was registered as a non-profit public benefit corporation (NPO) with the State of California.
 While the collaboration of American academics was essential, such as the Journal of Online Education at New York University, a major purpose of the WAOE has been to share technology infrastructure and training and to amplify the voices of non-Western scholars. There have always been Indians as well as Africans and others active in the WAOE organization. For our 2021 Zoom events so far, management professors from three regions of India have taken the lead. Global human resource development is of worldwide interest.
 The WAOE had membership dues for a while, against my wishes, but then we abolished dues in the year 2000, so membership is completely free. We have donated our funds to Eastern Europe and a children’s hospital in Bangladesh. The Internet has made it possible more than ever to act according to our ideals.
  During the past 25 years, online education seemed to mature into an academic discipline led by major universities offering online courses and MOOCs (massive open online courses), sometimes free. Yet online academic conferences never became as popular globally as we had expected. But with the recent pandemic, suddenly there is a tremendous demand for online education expertise. Better technologies for synchronous events have also emerged, such as continuously updated versions of Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams.
  Since many workers, educators, and students are using these new technologies in daily life, we may expect their applications to spread to other uses in the future including online conferences.

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