What Does it Mean to Study Education Technology?
In the words of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT), educational technology is "the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources." The goal of this industry is to meet the technology needs of the world's students in order to facilitate learning, communication, connectivity and collaboration.
Because this industry is broad in its scope and relevant to a wide range of career fields, educational technology majors can wind up working in any one of an array of important jobs. Keep reading to learn more about this dynamic subject of study, its available degree levels and its potential career outcomes.
Types of Education Technology Degrees
Educational technology degree programs are typically offered at the master's level and above, presenting an opportunity for teachers who have already learned the fundamentals of educational theory to deepen their understanding of the field through a graduate degree program. While many brick-and-mortar programs are available for educational technology majors, students can also find many online educational technology degrees they can pursue from home and in their spare time.
While educational technology degree programs are typically graduate-level, that does not mean that they're all going to be the same. Here are some examples of the different degree programs that exist in this field:
Master of Education Degrees in Educational Technology
A Master of Education in educational technology degree program often involves a fairly comprehensive grounding in instructional theory and design, along with tech-focused coursework. If you're an aspiring or working teacher who is looking to better understand available educational technology and how you might be able to utilize that technology in your curriculum, then this might be the right program to help you.
During this program, students are expected to learn how to design, develop and evaluate educational programs that utilize various technologies and software programs. These master's degree programs are meant to teach students ways to evaluate new programs with the overarching goal of becoming educators who can help their own students reach their academic potential.
Some common courses you might see in such a program include:
- Distance teaching and learning
- Instructional computing
- Blended learning environments
- Integrated media materials design
- Current research in educational technology
Master of Arts/ Master of Science Degrees in Educational Technology
In contrast to an M.Ed. in educational technology, which is geared to show aspiring teachers ways they can use technology to improve their lessons, M.A. and M.S. programs in the subject have slightly different focuses. An M.A. in educational technology program can be valuable for somebody who wishes to help schools and/or districts integrate technology into their functionality -- a role as a tech administrator, for example.
Meanwhile, an M.S. in educational technology program is usually tailored more to students who plan to pursue careers in the science, math or technological fields. These students might intend to do research in the field of educational technology itself, helping to improve the field for the future, or they might even be looking to enter a more traditional tech career where they can apply the principles of educational technology to take a fresh perspective on existing problems.
Courses you might take during your program include:
- Tools for visualizing information
- Approaches to educational research
- Educational technology basics
- Technology in our modern world
- Distance learning initiatives
Doctoral Degrees in Educational Technology
Students interested in studying educational technology at the highest levels may want to consider pursuing a doctoral degree. This option is geared towards students looking to delve deeply into the technological and research aspects of this emerging field of study, focusing on technology integration, academic leadership, innovative learning strategies, educational software development and more.
While specific courses for the program can vary depending on the doctoral program and chosen concentration (if applicable), classes often seen at the doctoral level include:
- Future of education
- Digital media
- Doctoral research success tools
- Quantitative research and analysis
- eLearning design instruction
What Can You Do With an Education Technology Degree?
The skills taught in an educational tech program can apply to many different aspects of the scholastic system. However, some jobs in education do have more requirements than others. Keep reading to learn more about a few of the jobs educational technology majors can find, as well as what requirements they might demand.
Education Technology Specialist
Professionals who are well-versed in education tech can offer important perspective to educators, administrators and policymakers. An education technology specialist can help schools and teachers synthesize multimedia content with Web platforms, design online curricula, support individual device users and be aware of emerging tools and methods.
Some educational technology specialist positions may be available to graduates with a bachelor's degree in a relevant technical field, while others may require a master's degree or specialized training in education. Positions that deal with broadly applicable educational policy, such as those in district administration or local government, are more likely to require extensive experience or advanced degrees.
- These professionals typically get started with a bachelor's degree, although specialized educational technology degrees may be required for advanced positions.
- These workers do not need certification.
Educational technology majors with creative energy and a strong background in both pedagogical theory and high-tech learning solutions may find themselves well-suited to the field of instructional design. Instructional designers are tasked with helping teachers and faculty to learn about and apply educational technology in their classrooms, schools and districts. They make presentations and recommendations about educational technology and how it can be applied to specific situations for their audience. This field typically asks its practitioners to assist in the development and production of course materials for traditional as well as online classroom use.
- Most instructional design positions, particularly ones in higher education, typically call for at least a master's degree and may require previous work experience with instructional technologies, faculty development, or classroom teaching.
- These professionals typically need a state license to work in their state.
Elementary or Secondary School Teacher
Aspiring elementary and secondary school teachers who take the initiative to learn about the nuts and bolts of educational technology can bring a valuable set of skills to the table. Technology is a valuable part of modern life, and so a teacher who understands how to use technology -- both in terms of using it to improve their lessons and in terms of being able to teach their students how to use it as well -- can be an equally valuable asset to a school or district.
Sometimes, in fact, it's important for the purpose of doing more with less. Not all school districts are going to have the latest educational technology installed in their classrooms. Understanding educational technology can help a teacher to put creative spins on using older software or hardware, helping to maximize a school's available resources.
- Candidates for most teaching positions at the elementary and secondary level need a bachelor's degree and teaching certification, but they're typically not required to hold a master's degree. A graduate certificate or other non-degree training program in educational technology can be a smart choice for students looking to improve their tech skills.
- Teachers need to be licensed in their state in which they teach.
Knowledge of educational tech concepts and specific desirable learning outcomes can mean the difference between a great piece of classroom software and one that's just decent. For this reason, software developers with formal education in both education and technology can be crucial to up-and-coming startup companies in the education market.
Software developers use their knowledge of computers and technology to create programs that solve problems, offer support or entertain. In an educational technology setting, these professionals usually focus most of their work on conceptualizing and building software programs that can help schools to teach their students.
- Positions in software development tend to require a bachelor's or master's degree in a discipline related to computer science or engineering. Candidates who combine a bachelor's in computer science with an M.A. or M.S. in education technology may be particularly well-suited to educational software development.
- Certification isn't a requirement for this career field.
Academic Technology Consultant
Expertise in educational technology can benefit a wide range of organizations, but not everyone can afford to keep a full-time tech professional on staff at all times. Consultants can specialize -- offering their skills primarily to higher education institutions, for example -- or they can cast a wide net and offer basic services to a variety of organizations.
While consultants don't typically create their own technology or educational programs, they can specialize in advising schools and educational departments on the best technology for their needs.
- Consultants may be self-employed and therefore require no specific combination of academic and professional experience, but an M.A. in educational technology or similarly advanced degree in the field may be on a potential client's list of necessary qualifications. Consulting firms also tend to prefer job candidates who have a master's or doctoral degree in a discipline relevant to the type of consultancy they practice.
- Certification isn't required for this career.
Education Technology Salaries and Career Outlook
|Career||Total Employment||Annual Mean Wage||Projected Job Growth Rate|
|Elementary and Middle School Teachers||2,032,880||$62,150||3.4%|
|Secondary School Teachers||1,129,040||$64,230||3.5%|
|Software Developers and Programmers||1,666,270||$104,480||16.2%|
Education Technology Associations and Organizations
Membership in professional organizations can be excellent sources of career education materials, networking opportunities and proprietary publications. Staying plugged into a network of other educational technology professionals can be useful for keeping up with innovations in the tools and methods of the field.
Explore this short list of national and international organizations and associations that serve the education technology community:
- International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) -- The ISTE is an organization aimed at helping teachers improve educational outcomes by using technology in the classroom. Check out their website to learn about membership opportunities and networking events.
- Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE) -- This association focuses its efforts on bringing technology to every classroom, with the goal of helping students in math, science, and other subjects meet their educational goals. Sign up to learn about conferences and continuing education opportunities.
- The eLearning Guild - The eLearning Guild offers resources and a community for members who teach students in an online setting. Explore the website to learn about job opportunities, networking events and news alerts.
- Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) -- This organization connects educators whose goal is improving education through the use of technology. Exchange methods for using technology to create a systematic approach to learning in your classroom, and explore networking events and new resources for educators.
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- "What is educational technology?" University of Hawaii Department of Educational Technology, November 20, 2014, http://etec.hawaii.edu/aboutbackground.html
- "Online Master's Degree (M.Ed.) in Educational Technology," University of Florida College of Education, November 20, 2014, http://education.ufl.edu/educational-technology/online-masters/
- "Master of Education in Educational Technology," American College of Education, November 20, 2014, http://www.ace.edu/academics/master-of-education/m-ed-in-educational-technology
- "Master of Arts degree in Educational Technology," Central Michigan University Global Campus, November 20, 2014, http://www.global.cmich.edu/programs/degrees.aspx?dc=MA-ET
- "Master's in Educational Technology (MAET)," Michigan State University College of Education, November 20, 2014, http:/st/www.global.cmich.edu/programs/degrees.aspx?dc=MA-ET
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- "Job Description - Educational Technology Specialist," Stanford University, November 21, 2014, https://stanford.taleo.net/careersection/2/jobdetail.ftl?job=68029&src=JB-10064
- "Instructional Designer, Office of Teaching and Learning," Wayne State University, November 21, 2014, https://jobs.wayne.edu/applicants/jsp/shared/position/JobDetails_css.jsp?postingId=501834
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- "What are Praxis Exams?," University of Charleston, November 21, 2014, http://www.ucwv.edu/ASC/PRAXIS-Exam/
- International Society for Technology in Education, November 2014, www.iste.org/
- Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education, November 2014, http://www.aace.org/
- The eLearning Guild, November 2014, http://www.elearningguild.com/
- Association for Educational Communications and Technology, November 2014, http://www.aect.org/newsite/
- Nebraska Educational Technology Association, November 2014, http://netasite.org/
- California Educational Technology Professionals Association, November 2014, http://cetpa.net/
- Tennessee Educational Technology Association, November 2014, http://teta.org/
- New York State Educational Media/Technology Association, November 2014, http://www.edmediatech.org/
- "The Definition of Educational Technology," June 1 2004, Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) Definition and Terminology Committee, http://ocw.metu.edu.tr/file.php/118/molenda_definition.pdf
- EDD Educational Technology, Boise State University, https://edtech.boisestate.edu/programs/doctorate-edtech/
- Instructional Coordinators, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-26 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/instructional-coordinators.htm
- Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-26 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/kindergarten-and-elementary-school-teachers.htm#tab-1
- Master's in Educational Technology, Michigan State University, http://edutech.educ.msu.edu/programs/masters/
- Software Developers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-26 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/software-developers.htm
- Training and Development Specialists, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-26 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/training-and-development-specialists.htm