Nippon Boehringer Ingelheim Co. Ltd.
Personnel Development Division Head, Business Planning Headquarters
– Please tell us what led you to enter this school.
Six years ago, when I was transferred from the marketing department to the education department, it struck me that, somehow, the in-house education system was not working well. For example, the purposes of the training were not clear. There were no clear goals. Having come from the marketing department, I found it incredible that they did not have any specific objectives. I felt that it was the role of education to bridge the existing obstacles to realization of goals. So, through trial and error, I have changed various things, from the training program itself to the whole education system. Then, when it started to feel like the program was functioning well, I happened to encounter the notion of ID (Instructional Design) in a seminar for trainers. It was held at the MR Educational Center in 2005. At that time, I was introduced to the ADDIE model（*1）, but I said to the seminar staff from the educational center, “We have already started doing the same thing.” The conversation continued along the lines of, “Really?” “Yes.” As a result, it was decided that the staff would actually come and see how we were using the model.
Then, in February 2006, I was given an opportunity to make a case study report on our company. Professor Suzuki was one of the attendees. He was kind enough to comment, “This is truly an example of ID.” Then, he gave us some advice. I was relieved to know that what we had been doing was along the right lines but, at the same time, I was surprised to learn that what we had just started to understand after a few years of struggle had already been developed into a systematic theory. Looking back, I keenly sense how ignorant I was at the time. (Laughs) I found that there was a study field which was on the same vector as what I had been thinking about. I found a place to study it further and, what’s more, the study system was the best imaginable one for me as it would allow be to study on-line while continuing to do my job. I instantly decided to apply for entry to the school. However, I didn’t realize that the deadline for application was so early. When I did notice the date, the application deadline for 2007 had already passed. So, I learned four subjects as a non-degree student. Then, I entered the master’s program in 2008.
– How do you usually study? Isn’t it difficult to balance your job with your studies?
Well, maybe I shouldn’t admit this, but the fact is that I have not spent much time studying this year. In the year when I was a non-degree student, I was so driven to learn ID. (Laughs) I was not satisfied at taking only four subjects, so I even read textbooks and reference books for some other subjects which non-degree students were not allowed to take. And, of course, having already taken four subjects (eight credits) as a non-degree student, I didn’t have as big a workload as other students. So, in this school year, I have concentrated my studying into short periods just prior to the deadlines for report submission. That said, I have still studied almost every Saturday and Sunday.
What kinds of materials and tasks do you have? I heard that the SCC (Story-centered Curriculum http:// www.gsis.kumamoto-u.as.jp/ksuzui/resume/papers/a80530.pdf) started in 2008.
SCC is a method of learning whereby we advance our studies by linking certain subjects based on a given story. In the hypothetical situation where we belong to a company, we receive a work order once a week. It works like this: “You have a problem. Study the 1st and 2nd chapters of Subject A and Chapter 3 of Subject B to solve the problem.” SCC can help us to understand the interrelation among several subjects and it is quite interesting in that it teaches us how to objectively overview a given situation, as presented in the story. However, the contents of the individual subjects remain basically the same as last year. Sometimes, the content of our texts does not fit with the storyline. I hope this will be improved so that we can learn more effectively. To be honest, it is a little hard for students as we have a deadline almost every week. (Laughs) Although, I have to admit that this serves as a powerful external motivator. (Laughs) For instructors, I think the curriculum is good in that they can keep an eye on students and follow up with those who are lagging behind. In addition to the assignments for each subject, we hand in a report every week. This task helps us reflect on what we have just learned. Accumulating half a year’s or a years’ worth of such reports will help us a lot. Even so, it’s quite a burden for students as we have extra assignments that we are required to hand in. (Laughs)
– How do you communicate with other students or professors?
In the first semester of the first year, we mainly communicated via the bulletin board located in Blackboard（*2） I would say that we didn’t use it as actively as we could have. However, the situation changed when we started doing group learning in a subject called Practical E-learning Training, in the second semester. We found that we could not complete our reports in time if we relied solely on the bulletin board to exchange opinions, so we began using synchronous tools such as Adobe Connect or Skype. We felt that, even if we were physically remote from each other, that wouldn’t be a problem if we were using such tools. I had never used Adobe Connect or Skype before, but now I am very comfortable using them. This is just one more thing that I have achieved at this school.
– What have you learned as a result of participating in the school?
The first term that comes to mind is “connected.” By learning in a systematic way at this school, the experience I have accumulated in practice and the theory that I have learned from books or reference materials have been connected. This has happened not only in my studies on education but also in respect of IT, management, and other areas. Sometimes, in a desire to understand more, I would initiate my own studies. I had never before studied so earnestly or concentrated so hard on my studies. (Laughs) One regret is that we have only one IP subject. I believe IP will open up precious business opportunities in coming years, so I would like to extend my studies. I also feel that it is an interesting subject for research.
– Looking ahead, how can you utilize what you have learned in your job?
Actually, I have already begun utilizing things that I’ve learned. (Laughs) Let me give you an example. In the past, we had already used a cooperative learning method in the training program for new recruits, in order to allow them to study autonomously. We pushed the program further, adopting some cognitive aspects, to nurture independent learners. Also, we have another program in which we change some variants based on the time model by Carol. (http:// www.gsis.kumamoto-u.ac.jp/ksuzuki/resume/books/1995rtv/rtv01.html) This year, we will initiate four projects in which we have new trials utilizing what we have learned.
– Do you have a message for someone who is considering entering this school?
It is very hard study while you carry on working, but please give it a go. It is very challenging to think about how you can manage your busy schedule to find time for your study. Regardless of your age (in my case, I feared that I was too old to engage in further study), I hope you will try it. For those who are engaged in education within a company, work in higher education, or are involved in any other aspect of education, this is a valuable opportunity to study while you work. Moreover, I strongly believe that studying the subjects offered at this school, covering ID, IM, IT, IP, in a comprehensive manner will give you new wisdom. Then, you will be equipped to disseminate a better quality of education throughout Japan. I look forward to your joining the school.
(Interviewed in February 2009)
|*1||ADDIE model：a development process model for educational material development or educational systems. This model is proposed in the field of instructional design. “ADDIE” is an acronym for Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation.|
|*2||Blackboard：a typical Learning Management System (LMS). This system can present various learning materials, manage schedules, and/or manage achievements. It can be used via browsing software on a computer connected to the Internet. It has been adopted throughout Kumamoto University.|