|Organization||University of Fukui|
|Title||Practical Research Fukui Round Table 2020 VIRTUAL (Online) SUMMER SESSIONS|
|City, Country||Fukui Prefecture, Japan|
The 2020 summer session has become a great turning point for the Reflective Practice and Organizational Learning Fukui Roundtable launched in 2000. A roundtable is an event where practitioners and researchers from different regions and disciplines come together. Divided into small groups, the participants discuss and exchange each other’s practice-based reports.
While the global situation surrounding COVID-19 has increasingly become serious and large-scale events including graduation and entrance ceremonies were determined to be cancelled in March, we needed to decide whether to hold the roundtable in June or not. The roundtable cross-session, at which a small number of speakers present and discuss with each other their longitudinal process of practice, is a typical case of the 3Cs (closed spaces, crowded places, and close-contact setting) we should avoid, and thus seemed clearly to be difficult to hold it as in the previous years.
However, sharing and reflection at the biannual roundtable have become an indispensable event for all supporting stakeholders’ practices. Thus, given the difficult circumstances, the Graduate School of Education of the University of Fukui explored potential alternatives and approaches to hold the said event. In addition, the Roundtable 2020 was scheduled to expand from the one implemented in Malawi and Uganda to a roundtable for the whole African region as an EDU-Port Fiscal 2020 certified project. We, therefore, were reluctant to cancel the roundtable even in the midst of the unprecedented crisis of COVID-19, which requires a novel approach to hold the roundtable.
We considered holding it by requiring participants to wear face masks and to keep social distance, and arranging multiple small venues until the middle of March. But our decision changed to holding online in response to the situation at the end of March. We strived to find an answer to the question, “How can we ensure the roundtable’s key features and process to listen to other speakers’ practices and share them among everyone?” at the conference’ preparatory meeting held within the Graduate School of Education. Our experiences in graduate school with our graduate students during weekly and monthly conferences in April and May provided hints that the roundtable is possible online. From those experiences, we were surprised that small group deep conversations were taking place — even online. Hence, we decided to host the roundtable despite our anxieties in the new approach. The staff of the department engaged in a never-ending process of getting used to and coordinating discussions online and securing a stable network for our online meetings.
More than 600 participants in far places like Irabu Island of Okinawa, Sapporo, and overseas including Seattle and the Philippines joined the first long-time online session beyond borders for their practice exchanges, which has paved a way to the growth of the roundtable into a new dimension in the midst of COVID-19 crisis.
The next Reflective Practice and Organizational Learning Fukui Roundtable will be held on February 20 and 21, 2021. Details will be published on the website of the Graduate School of Education, the University of Fukui in December. We are looking forward to your participation.