Global Perspective

Creating a “University Without Walls”: Bridging the Pacific via Live Video Streaming

by Dr. Tuen-yu Lau, Kiriyama Professor of Asia Pacific Studies

A “university without walls” teaching method was launched and implemented by the USF Center for Asia Pacific Studies’ Kiriyama Professor of Asia Pacific Studies, Dr. Tuen-yu Lau, this Spring 2018 semester. A series of three workshops with the theme of “Cross-Cultural Communication via Social Media” was completed on April 27, 2018.

The workshop employed live video streaming using Zoom as a device in a classroom in Kalmanovitz Hall to connect students in San Francisco, Hong Kong and Taipei.  About 15 students in USF’s Masters in Asia Pacific Studies, International Studies and Professional Communication programs, 25 master’s students in New Media Convergence and Asian New Media Research from National Chengchi University in Taipei, as well as 10 students from Hong Kong Baptist University Film Studies and City University of Hong Kong television and broadcasting concentration joined the workshop.


Students taking notes mid-lecture

“This is an experiment in what I believe to be the future of teaching, a method in which students from around the world will meet beyond the walls of a classroom to learn together and share their knowledge,” explained Dr. Tuen-yu Lau, who was founding director of the digital media master’s program at the University of Washington. “Specifically, the theme of the workshop, cross-cultural communication, is very appropriate for students from different cultures to have the opportunity to exchange their opinions, and share observations and thoughts about their cross-cultural experience.”

Students of these four universities represented various countries, including Brazil, China, the Czech Republic, France, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Israel, Mexico, The Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, and the United States. Students experienced the cross-cultural communication process first-hand during the workshop. Additionally, students acquired knowledge and skills in the use of social media.

“It was a good opportunity for students from the East and West to exchange ideas across the Pacific Ocean,” said Dr. Elaine Chan, adjunct faculty of The Academy of Film at The Hong Kong Baptist University. “Student enjoyed talks by experts and had fun learning together with their peers.”


Screen with multiple conference calls

Each workshop consisted of three components: (a) the workshop started with guest speakers from major new media companies; (b) a core lecture by the workshop coordinator/instructor Dr. Tuen-yu Lau; and (c) interactive discussions. The speakers were distinguished professionals in their field, which included Ms. Kitty Lun, currently Head of Creative Shop of Facebook Greater China, who also was chairperson and CEO of multinational advertising agencies in Asia; Dr. Jody Brannon, Chief News Evangelist and Senior Content Strategist of Bing News (Bing is a Microsoft search engine), who was a key editor of and; and Ms. Julie Knight-Ludvigson, Chief Marketing Officer and Mr. Sean Pratt, Senior Marketing Manager, Content and Customer Marketing at, a company headquartered in San Francisco and London.  The speakers of the first two workshops were based in Hong Kong and Seattle, and gave their talks via live video conferencing. The speakers from came to the USF campus to deliver a timely talk before graduation, sharing their experiences and advising students on how to prepare themselves to become global workforce members and citizens.

The effective technical operation of the workshops required a collaborative effort. Dr. John Bansavich, Director of Instructional Technology and Training in the Center of Instruction and Technology, and Mr. Ken Yoshioka, Senior Instructional Technologist, Instructional Technology and Training of Information Technology Services, both helped with the testing of the audio-visual effects in the classroom before and during the workshops. They also helped educate instructors and technicians of overseas participating universities about the use of Zoom. In addition, Ms. Eileen Lai, Senior Instructional Technologist of Educational Technology Services helped design the workshop’s website. Mr. David Pedersen, an exchange student from Copenhagen, Denmark who studies finance at USF, designed the Facebook page. Mr. Michael Tran, USF computer science graduating senior, served as the workshop assistant, taking care of technical setups and operation.


Students listening to the presentation

“We are really thankful to Dr. Lau and his team for organizing the workshops. I think it has been a rewarding experience for all the students,” commented by Mr. Peter Kwan, senior teaching fellow in the Department of Media and Communication at The City University of Hong Kong.

“After these workshops, the students should have acquired more knowledge on social media and will understand more on cross-cultural communication.”

At the last workshop, Professor Melissa Dale, executive director of the USF Center for Asia Pacific Studies, presented certificates of completion to the USF students who had attended all three workshops in the series. Students in Hong Kong and Taipei also received the certificates.

"It has been such a great learning experience for our students to listen to Dr. Lau's lectures, experts' talks and to hear the various perspectives from students at USF, City University and Baptist University in Hong Kong," said Dr. Trisha Lin, Associate Professor of the Department of Radio and Television in the College of Communication at National Chengchi University, who organized the students to join the workshop in Taipei.

This “university without walls” project shows the significance of inter-departmental collaboration and support on the USF campus, a global alliance linking universities on both sides of the Pacific Ocean, and connections with industry executives. This internationalization effort of the Center for Asia Pacific Studies is an example of the USF mission: “Change the World from Here.”

Related News