Graduate Programs in Educational TechnologyThe Future of Ed Tech
by Megan Rothman
Published November 18, 2010
When you think about the term “technology”, what image first enters your mind? It's a computer, isn't it?
People typically associate the term “technology” with computers, but in its broadest sense, technology refers to the use of organized systems to achieve goals. In today’s technology-driven world, students aren’t constrained to a classroom with a chalkboard and printed text books, and neither are educators.
Educational Technology is a rapidly growing niche of professionals who use organized systems to achieve educational goals. And a graduate degree in Educational Technology will help you learn to do just that.
With such a broad range of technologies available, Educational Technology students can take their degree and run with it. From designing online learning environments for college courses to creating developmental games for elementary school students or producing instructional video segments for corporate continuing education programs, those pursuing an Ed Tech graduate degree will be prepared for all of the above.
This degree doesn’t limit graduates to a job in a typical academic setting. A graduate degree in educational technology prepares graduates for a wide range of careers in just about any setting you can imagine, from hospitals to corporate board rooms to museums.
Francine Shuchat Shaw, Professor for the Program in Educational Communication and Technology with The Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University, declared that “the catch-all job title is "educational media designer," but job descriptions are far better than titles.” Many of the possible job titles include “designer,” but something along the lines of “Technology Coordinator or Director” isn’t farfetched, either. Here is a short list of potential positions, courtesy of Professor Shaw:
• Educational media designers at video, software, publishing and education materials companies.
• Educational media designers in visual arts museums, natural history museums, science centers, historical societies, and children's museums, who, in collaboration with curators, exhibit designers and museum educators, design and produce digital and interactive elements for exhibits, and conduct usability research.
• Educational media designers in/for the diverse field of health -- social service agencies, hospitals, emergency rooms, physicians groups, clinics and the Internet, who may create video, multimedia, and websites that support employees, patients and their families regarding health issues.
• Academic technology coordinators in K-12 schools and higher education, who provide direction and vision for school-side technology planning, as well as professional development focused on the integration of technology into teaching and learning.
• e-Learning systems designers, trainers, and instructors, who work in university, corporate, continuing education, and continuing professional education contexts.
• Educational media designers in non-profits, NGOs, social justice and advocacy organizations which use media extensively to create issue-centered communities, address rights, access, equity and justice issues and to raise funds to support their work.
• Educational media designers in the television industries design and produce educational, social awareness and cultural programs and website companions on wide-ranging subjects for every age group.
• Educational media designers in the newspaper industries design and produce educational portions of the papers' websites, while several large papers, like The New York Times, offer e-courses through an e-learning portal.
• Educational media designers in "a global context" or "a developing context" who use communication technology to pave the way for international exchange that serves development, to bridge distance in education, as a means to preserve and disseminate local cultures, and to spur rural economic development, agriculture, and women's empowerment.
Brian Blum, Founder and Chief Consultant at Maverick Solutions IT, Inc, earned a Master of Education degree from the College of Mount Saint Vincent in August 2006 with an instructional technology concentration. He’s currently using his degree to operate his own consulting business that specializes in technology solutions for New York Metro schools. Previously, he was the Director of Technology and Computer Studies Dept Chair at a Catholic high school.
Kathy Kronemeyer, a retired elementary schoolteacher, is currently enrolled in an Instructional Technology graduate program. She’s using her degree to provide computer lab training to elementary school students in an afterschool program. She has also learned how to offer training and assistance to the staff at the school and help in the creation of special classroom projects.
See? The possibilities are only limited by the current limitations of modern technology. Soon, you may be designing educational programs that allow robots to teach people skills. Who knows?
The Bottom Line
How can you tell if Educational Technology is right for you? You may be a good candidate for a graduate degree in Educational Technology if you:
- Like people. Face it – this degree is all about teaching other people.
- Have a solid grasp on technology. If you are ok with embracing your inner tech geek, but don’t want to spend all your time deciphering Binary Code, this may be a good compromise.
- Are a problem solver. A key element to effectively using this degree is coming up with new ways to apply technology to learning.
- Are organized. Technology is the use of organized systems, after all. If you can’t keep track of when you last fed your cat, this may not be the right degree for you.
- If you have a background in education or psychology. Often, a strong knowledge of the typical methods of education will come in handy when developing programs that teach the masses.
If you have a desire to help people, and the drive to keep up with ever changing and evolving technologies, plus the ability to explain things clearly, a graduate degree in Educational Technology may be the right choice for you.
Megan Rothman is a Penn State University alumna. She is currently based outside of Charlotte, NC.