Eric Hawkinson was born in Wisconsin and grew up in Tucson until he moved to Tempe to attend college at Arizona State University. Hawkinson studied information technology, international business, and Japanese. He fell in love with Japan after going there on a study abroad program – he moved back to Japan when he graduated.
While in Japan, Hawkinson decided to enroll in SDSU’s EDTEC M.A. (now the Learning Design and Technology) program, “The best part of the program is that you can study anywhere, and at any time. My first class I was on vacation in Kuala Lumpur, and then went back to Japan. Having the online option is convenient when you don’t live in the U.S.”
As a graduate discipline, EDTEC allowed Hawkinson to learn things all over the map subject wise. Plus with his IT background coupled with his current career, the program suited him. “I’m the only westerner at my job, so it’s really a great opportunity for me to be around and work with like-minded English speakers. I’m 16 hours ahead of San Diego time, and I have a very heavy work schedule. So I need flexibility in my studies, and the teachers in this program have been very good at facilitating that flexibility for me. I still have to wake up before the sun sometimes for online meetings, but that’s part of the experience. Online learners need to be self-motivated, and that’s the biggest difference I’ve found to on-campus students,” says Hawkinson.
During an independent study course in the M.A. program, he worked on a project called ForeverKyoto – a program to promote rural tourism, research cross-cultural social media use and educate locals on Internet marketing practices to appeal to foreign tourists. Recently, Hawkinson presented at the International Forum of Northeast Asia Tourism Annual Conference in Gimcheon, South Korea, in August 2013. He adds, “It was part of a series of papers taking educational technologies and applying them to international tourism. I also talked about past research in Internet marketing for international tourism and the work I’ve been doing with the ForeverKyoto project.”
Hawkinson uses what he has learned at work every day: “I’m developing digital learning materials I hope to market one day to supplement my income. As for the future, I’ll go where opportunity takes me. But it seems I’m going to be in higher education for at least a while longer. And for recommendations to students considering the program – bring your own ideas of how you’d like to challenge yourself. The program is fairly unique in that you can apply it to almost anything, so you can take your own interests and goals and express them.
The Educational Technology (EDTEC) department now has a new name: Learning Design and Technology (LDT). From SDSU’s department website, LDT “offers a master’s degree, seminars, an undergraduate minor, and certificates in instructional technology, instructional design, and distance education. Available on campus and online, our internationally recognized and accredited programs are leading the revolution in learning with problem-based strategies, new technologies that go where the work is, on-demand information. Systems, and novel roles for instructors that take them out of the classroom and closer to where and when they are needed.” The curriculum prepares students for a wide variety of careers in corporate, government, K12, higher education and nonprofit sectors including training, instructional design, performance improvement, project management, distance learning, and so on.