The sudden transition to online learning by institutions around the world in 2020 came as a shock to the status quo of higher education. Instructors and administrations around the world scrambled to orient faculty and students to online learning platforms. Crash course training programs were implemented, with varying results. At Kyoto University of Foreign Studies, the platform of instruction was decided to be Microsoft teams, with training and support in that direction, taking advantage of extant institutional affiliations with the Microsoft Office platform. Available technological options had previously underutilized functionality, and 2020 provided an opportunity to explore their potential in depth. Although this paper in no way intends to minimize the myriad challenges faced by institutions around the world which had to make a sudden shift to online learning, the aim herein is to highlight advantages to online, remote, and virtual learning platforms for language learning. In addition to advantages experienced by educators and learners who become proficient in the use of educational technologies, there are benefits to administrators and institutions as well, both financial and organizational. By explaining and describing the unintended positive consequences of online learning, and by providing details and data, we hope to illuminate the path forward as we carry these skills into the future. The face of higher education has changed irrevocably, and in this new age of combining available technologies with a traditional lecture and classroom experience, university instruction will never be the same again.
Michael Barr, Kyoto University of Foreign Studies, Japan