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Originally published Thursday, November 29, 2007 at 12:00 AM

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College class offered via cellphone in Japan

Japanese already use cellphones to shop, read novels, exchange e-mail, search for restaurants and take video clips. Now, they can take a university course.

The Associated Press

TOKYO — Japanese already use cellphones to shop, read novels, exchange e-mail, search for restaurants and take video clips. Now, they can take a university course.

Cyber University, the nation's only university to offer all classes only on the Internet, began offering a class on mobile phones Wednesday on the mysteries of the pyramids.

For classes for personal computers, the lecture downloads play on the monitor as text and images in the middle, and a smaller video of the lecturer shows in the corner, complete with sound.

The cellphone version, which pops up as streaming video on the handset's tiny screen, plays just the Power Point images.

In a demonstration Wednesday at a Tokyo hotel, an image of the pyramids popped up on the screen and changed to a text image as a professor's voice played from the handset speakers.

Cyber University, which opened in April with government approval to give bachelor's degrees, has 1,850 students.

The virtual campus is 71 percent owned by Softbank Corp., a major Japanese mobile carrier, which also has broadband operations and offers online gaming, shopping and electronic stock-trading services.

The cellphone lectures may be expanded to other courses but for now will be for the pyramids course, according to Cyber University, which offers about 100 courses, including ancient Chinese culture, online journalism and English literature.

Unlike the other classes, the one on cellphones will be available to the public for free, although viewers must pay phone fees. The catch is the lectures can only be seen on some Softbank phones.

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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