Ara grows relationships with Japan

News News & events

13 Feb 2017

Ara Institute of Canterbury continues to develop a network of relationships with Japanese institutions following a recent visit to Kagoshima and Tokyo.

Ara Timaru Campus computing tutor Alister Macgregor visited the National Institute of Technology Kagoshima College, the latest Japanese institute Ara has created a relationship with as it forges ahead with a programme of international networks.

Ara computing tutor Alister Macgregor sightseeing in Tokyo following a visit to the National Institute of Technology Kagoshima College to deliver a presentation on introductory programming learning in New Zealand.

Alister presented on ‘Teaching Introductory Programming in a New Zealand environment’ and was fortunate to also observe classes at the institute.

Japan has a more knowledge-based approach to teaching computer programming, he says, whereas Ara has moved to more interactive learning. “The level of material they were covering at Kagoshina was quite high, which surprised me for how young the students were, but the classrooms were very quiet.

“Our approach is more to get students to try something, learn from the experience and discuss the results with their tutor.

With a background in consulting for process industries, Alister has been a computing tutor with Ara, and its predecessor Aoraki Polytechnic, for seventeen years. He has taught programming from beginner to graduate level, as well as data analysis, mathematics and algorithm design and user support.  His preferred teaching methodologies are highly interactive, utilising case studies and student interaction to facilitate how content is taught during a class.

The presentation was part of Kagoshima’s globalization project funded by the Japanese Ministry of Education.

The visit will lead to customised group programmes for Japanese students to visit Ara and academic collaboration in computing and engineering.

Alister said that interactive teaching nurtures transferable skills and learning how to learn, which is essential in a fast moving industry such as computing. However that didn’t discount the value of teaching programming knowledge as well.

Visiting Kagoshima will further enable him to relate to the international students who attend the Timaru Campus and particularly those from Asia.

“I’ve had students from India, Korea, China, Japan and Thailand, but it was the first time I’d seen a classroom in Japan in action. Culturally it is quite different with different teaching approaches and lower levels of personal space.”

Ara Manager - International Market Sector Japan,Tim Hayashi, who travelled with Alister, gave a presentation at the New Zealand Embassy in Tokyo, introducing the New Zealand tertiary training sector to teachers and international staff from schools in Japan.  The event was organised by Education New Zealand Tokyo and sponsored by Air New Zealand and Tourism New Zealand.