Greeting for December 2005, upon approval of master’s program establishment

In Japan, training programs for specialists in e-learning on the basis of Instructional Design will commence in graduate schools in April 2006. Assuming the weighty responsibility of beginning such education, we professors at Kumamoto University are bracing ourselves.

In advanced e-learning countries, including the United States, Canada, Korea and Singapore, the promotion of Instructional Design as the methodology for improving the effect, efficiency and attraction of education has greatly helped to improve the quality and quantity of e-learning. In such countries, especially the United States, e-learning professionals (specialists) have been trained in graduate schools on the basis of a curriculum that combines Instructional Design (ID), Information Technology (IT) and management. The human resources produced by those graduate schools have contributed to the development of industrial education and training or e-learning in higher education.

In Japan, on the other hand, e-learning has been practiced only by some professors, using the trial-and-error method. There have been few e-learning specialists with systematic knowledge and skills, such as ID. In industrial education and training, academic support is required, as at universities. To this day, however, graduate schools of universities, including Kumamoto University, haven’t provided systematic education for specialist training.

Kumamoto University has striven to enhance human resources and physical infrastructures, and has attained some progress in the use of e-learning in basic information education, English education using computers and engineering education for all students. But this progress has depended on repetition of trial and error, without systematic knowledge. As a result of trial and error, we have recently found ourselves reaching a methodology close to ID.

Having known ID, we firmly believed that ID offered great possibilities not only for Kumamoto University, but also for human resources development in Japan. We then welcomed ID specialists as new professors: one of them had received a doctorate in Instructional Systems from Florida State University, the birthplace of ID; another had practiced ID in industrial education and training. Responding to the present situation in Japan we have integrated ID, IT, Intellectual Property (IP) and Instructional Management (IM), referred to as “Four Is”, into Instructional Systems as a field of educational research, and have built an organization of professors of both humanities and sciences. Preparations are completed for graduate school education, to train e-learning specialists in systematic knowledge of Instructional Systems and bring them into the industrial or educational world.

With the President of Kumamoto University in the lead, we have decided to engage in human resources development and work together to address the national challenge. Is it appropriate that Kumamoto University is taking a leadership role? We don’t know. But some university must take action, in view of the importance of human resources development and the potential of e-learning. We see no reason why Kumamoto University should not be the first to do so.

We hope that other universities will start training human resources, following Kumamoto University. For that, we must make our new graduate school education work well.

In preparation for the new education, we have created curriculums based on ID not only for ID-related courses, but for all courses. In cooperation with the National Institute of Multimedia Education and e-Learning Consortium Japan we also foresee future trends in education through industry-government-university cooperation.

Because this is our first attempt -and the first attempt in Japan- to provide such education, we are prepared to face many challenges in the implementation phase. We will overcome these challenges and advance step by step. Thank you for your support and cooperation.

We look forward to welcoming to the Graduate School of Instructional Systems students who share the same feeling, and to learn together with them.

Reference: Purpose and background of establishing the Graduate School of Instructional Systems
Purpose and background of establishing the Graduate School of Instructional Systems’ master’s program (PDF:252KB)