A virtual world away

A virtual world away

Alicia Edquist, Advertising Manager/Lab Aide

In the early part of January, John Haas, Social Science instructor and two Teacher TRAC students went to New Zealand to discuss the future of distance education at Cerritos College.

Amy McManus went along on the trip to New Zealand. McManus was apart of the Teacher TRAC program and is now currently attending California State University Long Beach.

Eric Bermudez also went along with McManus and Haas on the trip. Bermudez is also a Teacher TRAC program and is attending Cerritos College.

The students and Haas went to International Pacific College in New Zealand otherwise known as IPC.

The Teacher TRAC program paid for the trip for the students and Haas.

The main goal of going to IPC was esstenially global education.

“I taught a class while we are at IPC,” Haas said.

When Haas was teaching at IPC he taught the Koreans, Japanese, Malesians, Indonesians and the Kiwis.

McManus and Bermudez also participated in the class that Haas taught in New Zealand.

During the majority of the stay at IPC, Haas and the students went to meetings and classes at IPC.

“One thing that the students noticed was a great deal of Anti-American sentiment in New Zealand. They got a different idea and feeling of how others felt about Americans in general,” Haas said.

Along with the Cerritos College students getting a different view of how Americans are preceived. The IPC students also got a different prospective of Americans from the Cerritos College students and made them feel a little more comfortable about Americans.

McManus writes in her essay about why she took the trip to New Zealand and what it felt like to be where Americans are not thought of highly.

“I wanted to talk with other college students around the world in order to get an outside perspective on what the United States of America really means to these students,” McManus stated.

McManus learned that she needed to be more open-minded and tolerant of the way other countries are governed.

“Overall, I believe that my trip to New Zealand was amazing….I believe that through these experiences, my generation will rise to the task of achieving the ultimate dream, that we will be willing to put aside our differences and stand as one human race, indivisble, with liberty and justice for all,” McManus said.

Haas stresses the importance of global education is really pressident. Finding out other peoples views we alienate others in the process.

While there the group went on excursions to Wellington, where the Lord of the Rings muesum is and other trips to see New Zealand.

McManus and Haas also partipcated in bungy jumping with another student from IPC.

THE START OF SOMETHING NEW

The three teamed up with professors and administrators at IPC to set-up tenative classes, such as a wider variety of global education classes such as Anthropology and economics.

There are seven teachers at IPC that are involved with the teleconference program and Haas is the only one currently working on the program at Cerritos College.

The goal of the program is to get other disciplines involved such as economics and anthropology classes.

IPC is also looking at Cerritos College as a two-year school and then take transfer students from Cerritos College over to IPC for the third year to finish.

The program started about four years ago with the class called “The Wisconsin Idea at Cerritos College” a virtual learning community.

“I got this class down pat, the New Zealand class is a little different and we are still working out the bugs,” Haas said.

The New Zealand class started this spring semester.

“Since we were still in New Zealand when the spring semester began and the coolest thing was being able to teach the first week of school here from New Zealand,” he said.

There is approximately 48 students currently enrolled in the class.

So far the program has received good reviews from students.

“Overall everyone likes the program. I do get students that like to repeat the class and sometimes I get a new batch of students who are not sure what the class in really about, but the overall reaction is good,” he said.

The new class called “Connecting Hemispheres: California and New Zealand” a virtual learning community.

The program set-up with New Zealand is a type of team teaching.

The teachers take turns lecturing about different topics and give discussion questions for students to start talking about between the two colleges. The teachers also talk to each other during the live teleconference and help the students gain a better understanding of what is being talked about.

To prepare for each virtual class, students are required to read and discuss issues and are asked certian questions in advance to prepare them to make their arguments.

Students from both countries ask questions to the instructors and they respond furthering the conversation topic more.

The two colleges use an online service called “Blackboard” which is a discussion board for the students to further the discussions in class and possibly start newer ideas.

“It’s one thing to do the email exchange, but some of these live discussions have been a little heated,” Haas said as he was reflecting upon the recent debate about going to war with the students in both countries.

“I really want students to take advantage of the course, it helps us (Americans) sharpen our culture. In the United States we a have a very narrow prospective of how others feel about us,” he said.

Haas feels that prosepective is so important to history. He also says that we only get the facts in a normal history class and never really know how to interpret the facts that are given in lectures.

“One of the best things that Cerritos College has is diversity,” Haas said.

When teaming up with Wisconsin, we were looking at almost 96 percent of the students being white which did not offer as much diversity to us.

Joshua James is one of Haas’s student’s from “The Wisconsin Idea” class. When James reflected upon what the class meant to him this is what he said.

“It was a great experience for me. Most students see lectures as pretty dull and boring. But this was different. In order to not look like an idiot in front of the university students, you had to be prepared and be up on the material. It was an ongoing debate and you wanted to be prepared–I liked that,” James said.

There is always next semester to sign up for one of the interesting teleconference courses offered here at Cerritos College.

“I really need more public relations for the program so I can get more students and faculty interested in taking and teaching the class,” he said.

Haas wants to encourage his students to tell their friends about the class and pass the word around so more people can take the class.