Akiko Morita

Akiko Morita
Enrolled 2008-2010 Academic Year

What led you to enroll at GSIS?

My company trains Medical Representatives (MR). We hold many seminars to improve the quality of MR trainees, and in January 2007, I attended one where I first learned about ID. I found ID very appealing, since I had been struggling for a long time to find a more strategic training method. I believed ID was the solution I had been looking for, so I wanted to learn more. After the seminar, the presenter told me that there was a graduate school for ID studies at Kumamoto University, and that I should apply to it.

Right after that, I checked the GSIS homepage, only to find that the application deadline had already passed. I asked Professor Suzuki to see if he could make an exception and let me in, but to no avail (laughs). But he did agree to meet me in person, where he told me a lot about the graduate school. On his advice, I became a part time student in 2007, and finally a full-time student in 2008.

How do you like the courses?

Though I don’t hate computers, I had never tried e-learning or even social media sites before. Nevertheless, I found e-learning to be a very comprehensive method and believed it could be used to get a good education in anything. When I became a part time student, I had also just quit my old job and started my own education business, so I wanted to learn the basics of education from scratch. In those first courses, I had many opportunities to reflect on my experiences as an educator thus far. The checklists in the courses helped me a lot to examine what had been good and bad in the education I had been offering. Through the course tasks, I realized what I should have been doing more or could have been doing more effectively, which was so interesting.

After the thorough reflection during the first year, I started thinking about what I could do next. In my second year, SCC (Story Centered Curriculum) had just started at GSIS. I had been thinking about how I could apply it to MR training and connect my studies to my work. In this way, I was able to accomplish most of the study of ID that I had set out to do during my second year, while during the third year I learned about different viewpoints regarding the field. “E-learning Consulting” was a very enriching course for me. I realized I didn’t have a solid grasp on how to approach management. Preparing my master’s thesis and participating in international conferences also helped me realize that I should improve my skills in putting my thoughts into words, which will be my next big challenge.

How do you communicate with the other students or professors?

When I got stuck during my studies, I could e-mail my professor and get a kind reply from her every time. I would also meet with her and get advice from her when she was in Tokyo on business. When I didn’t make any progress for a while, I would get an e-mail from her asking if I was all right. Those times were always so embarrassing (laughs)!

We had a mailing list of the 2008 master’s program students and communicated with each other constantly; it was like our own private Twitter. Six of us lived in Tokyo and had drinking parties once every two or three months. We also had several chances to meet face to face for the intensive courses. When doing distance group work, we communicated by e-mail, Skype, or meeting directly. Though this is an online graduate school, talking with your classmates directly is very important! We have managed to make opportunities to communicate informally. Since we are all adults, I think we should do what we need to do on our own mostly, and not rely on the school or professors to hold our hands the entire time. I feel that the professors have the same expectations of us, too.

How do you usually study? Is it difficult to balance your job with your studies?

Everything we study at GSIS serves as a hint in my job. I don’t try to separate my studies from my job at all. For example, whenever I prepare a business proposal, I apply what I’ve learned during my studies to it. Fortunately, my job is about education too, and I have no boss putting pressure on me, so I can switch between work and studying as I please. That’s why balancing the two was never difficult. Of course, I still have had tough times completing very difficult tasks and have to spend my weekends studying.

What have you learned during your studies here?

Using the various theories, ways of thinking, and viewpoints regarding ID that I studied I have gained the great tool of self-reflection. I have also learned a lot from the IT and IM courses.

Looking ahead, how will you utilize what you have learned in your job?

I have already been utilizing it so much (laughs)! We have to utilize what we have learned; that is why we enrolled here. Even after graduation, we have to keep finding opportunities to learn on our own. To some extent, we have depended on this program in our learning so far. Going forward, we have to get out of that habit.

Do you have a message for someone who is considering entering this school?

If you work in the field of education, don’t hesitate to apply to GSIS! You might struggle now and again, but the return on investment is enormous. This graduate school provides a ton of concrete mechanisms for learning, and it is up to you to take advantage of them. A fascinating study experience awaits!

(Interviewed in February 2010)