Posted : 2015-08-26 13:16
Updated : 2015-08-29 23:21

Making classroom interactive

Michelle Marks, far right in the front row, vice provost of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, poses with students at George Mason University Korea after delivering a special lecture on well-being at the school's campus in Songdo, Incheon, June 9.
/ Courtesy of George Mason University Korea

George Mason University Korea takes innovative approach to provide better education

Dr. Steven K. Lee, president of George Mason University Korea
By Chung Hyun-chae

Dr. Steven K. Lee, president of George Mason University Korea, plans to establish an interactive classroom to provide a unique learning experience for students by using up-to-date technology.

He said the interactive classroom project is part of the school's new seven-story building, set to be completed by the end of this year.

Lee stressed that his students will be able to interact with people all over the world by accessing the Internet and making video calls.

"This is how we feel engaged in the top not only by top faculty and top programs but by ensuring that the classroom experience is also innovative," Lee said.

"One example is a flipped classroom where through technology students are able to interact with some other school's faculty members who can teach them. We are trying to incorporate a variety of styles here," he added.

A flipped classroom is a new method of teaching that is turning the traditional classroom on its head. The school is taking an innovative approach to educational practice so that it can adopt new ways to teach.

Lee believes technology brings a dynamic, innovative learning environment that can also contribute to enhancing the quality of education.

He said the school is also examining ways to offer more hybrid types of classes where students can access lectures that are going on at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, the U.S., in addition to traditional lectures.

The university set up its Korea campus on the Incheon Global Campus (IGC) in Songdo, Incheon, in March 2014. IGC also hosts three other foreign universities and a research institution. The other three are the State University of New York (SUNY Korea), the University of Utah and Ghent University.

George Mason Korea runs three programs in economics, global affairs and management. The student body has 170 members.

Prominent faculty from Fairfax

Lee is sure that his school's strength lies in providing students with the same programs as George Mason University in Fairfax.

"To maintain the highest level of academic standards at Mason Korea, we will continue to bring prominent faculty members from Fairfax," Lee said.

The school currently has seven professors from Fairfax who will teach in the fall semester. About 50 to 70 percent of the faculty has come from Fairfax. Some of them are visiting members who give special lectures to the students.

"In addition, we will complement these top faculties with some other prominent professors in Korea and elsewhere," Lee said. "We want to have a balance where we have strong scholars coming from different countries. We don't want to rely solely on local hires because this is part of the George Mason University system."

He also plans to expand programs to give more options for students to do double majors.

"We are constantly examining the kind of programs which we think are appropriate for George Mason Korea," Lee said.

Pending approval from the country's education ministry, the school is prepared to offer programs in accounting and finance, conflict analysis and resolution, system engineering.

"We have many programs that are considered world-class at George Mason University. We will continue to introduce new programs we feel will set us apart from most other universities," he added.

The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International) accredited the accounting and finance program that Lee proposed to offer beginning next year.

The AACSB International is a global, nonprofit membership organization for the management education industry. Its members include schools of business, corporations and public organizations.

"The AACSB accreditation represents the highest standard of achievement for business schools worldwide, less than 5 percent of the 13,000 business programs in the world have earned this accreditation," Lee said. "This is what distinguishes Mason Korea from most other institutions in Korea."

The school's existing programs are also highly regarded.

According to the Shanghai Jiao Tong ARWU rankings, George Mason is listed 75th for economics and management and 50th for global affairs.

"Korea focuses on quality and so for us we want to bring programs that meet that quality," Gbemisola A. Disu, chief operating officer at George Mason University Korea, said.

Job placement

The school is also making efforts to help its graduates successfully land jobs amid a high unemployment rate for young Korean adults.

"George Mason in the U.S. has the highest placement rate for student employment. And that's the commitment we have here in Korea as well," Lee said.

The school is scheduled to hold a career day this autumn where it will give students opportunities to interact with presidents or CEOs of top multinational companies.

George Mason has also opened doors for its students to work internally in various campus offices such as the president's office, marketing department and finance and IT departments.

According to Lee, the school has signed an agreement with the United Nations, the World Bank, the Incheon Port Authority, KB Kookmin Bank, Incheon International Airport, the National Assembly Budget Office and the Asian Games organizing committee to run internship programs for its students.

"We are also be pursuing academic partnerships with Korean universities, with high schools and perhaps even middle schools," Lee said.

"We feel that it would be helpful for even younger students to be exposed to what a life may be at Mason Korea so that they can better prepare themselves while they are in high school."

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