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The Path of Monastic Education: The Era of the Internet
Jikjisa Temple Sangha College’s Cyber-Interactive Education
<On July 25 in the computer classroom at Jikjisa, Sangha College students listen to a cyber-interactive lecture by Professor Kim Hosung.>
“It is now possible to listen to lectures beyond time and space of renowned professors.”
The good thing about a Sangha College is that both education and practice can take place there. However, due to a lack of University Professors, a systematic education program has been difficult to achieve. Even if professors were invited, the mountain locations of temples have proven to be problematic.
The Kimcheon Jikjisa Temple is overcoming many current obstacles to utilize every helpful resource in implementing new educating methods as a traditional monastic educational institution.
Jikjisa Sangha College has been having interactive lectures through the internet since May. The Jikjisa Sangha College became very busy on July 25 at 3 p.m. On this day, there was an interactive internet lectures given by Kim Hosung, professor of Indian Philosophy from Dongguk University in Seoul .
Ven. Semook is in charge of the technical aspects of the internet lectures. As the lecture time drew closer, he called Professor Kim Hosung and began to set up the computer. Professor Kim also went to the appropriate website and put on a headset. Precisely at 3 p.m. the professor and the eight Sangha College students exchanged brief salutations and bypassing the distance of over 220 km, held a class in cyberspace. The topic that day was, “Indian ideology and Buddhism.”
Except for the great distance between professor and students, there was no difference from a normal lecture. Superior to the normal one-sided cyber lecture, due to the bi-directional cybercast, questions and answers occurred throughout the lecture, proving for a more effective education. The students had printouts of the lecture contents which were emailed by Professor Kim before the lecture. The students were very attentive in the lecture, taking close notes. In addition, the lectures are recorded for possible further reviews. To accommodate the great desire to learn by the Sangha College students, the internet interactive lectures are 30 minutes longer than the usual one hour.
Jikjisa Sangha College has invited four professors for interactive cybercasts since May. Dongguk University professor of Indian philosophy Kim Hosung teaching Indian Ideology and Buddhism, Dongguk University professor of Korean Grammar Kim Sangil teaching Chinese characters, Dongguk University professor of Buddhist philosophy Park Insung, and Sung Jaehun from Dongguk University’s Institute of Tripitaka Koreana are teaching once a week via interactive lectures. The college holds normal lectures on premises by the Sangha College Professors in the morning and the cyber-interactive lectures in the afternoon.
The cyber-interactive lectures have been possible through the efforts and kind contribution of the Jikjisa Abbot and monastic community, and the college dean Ven. Jiwoo. They have provided all the funds for the installation of the interactive program (VDSL), lecture fees, and operation costs.
The college plans to have four cyber-interactive courses each semester. According to the dean Ven. Jiwoo, the time is at hand for a more systematic education incorporating new courses like social welfare and foreign language reflecting the changing times and which goes beyond traditional monastic education. Jikjisa Sangha College ’s Ven. Sangrak said, “Not only our college, but other Sangha Colleges are small so they have limitations with time and space. They’ve been unable to invite renowned professors because of the high cost. Now through cyber-interactive lectures, we not only can have renowned professors but it’s wonderful that we can also learn diverse subjects and philosophies.”
Jikjisa Sangha College has also requested other Sangha Colleges to also try the cyber-interactive lectures. They’ve offered their assistance in helping set up the cyber lectures and share servers. They’ve also suggested the Jogye Order to incorporate the cyber lectures in their human development programs. The college dean Ven. Jiwoo said, “By having cyber lectures, the problems that may arise when inviting renowned professors, may easily be resolved. It would be wonderful if other colleges also could experience the vast subjects available through cyber lectures.”