Advice on a Career in Education Technology

If you think the educational development career path is where you want to go, then I think you should take a typical job description  from a university hiring announcement and use the duty description as a template to start looking at how you can add skills that support each of the bullet comments.

The first step is to find a fairly standardized job description for a curriculum developer skill set that every college must have in order to meet the needs of the digital age.

Colleges and  universities realize that the genie of technology and digital learning cannot be put back in the bottle.
In the same way that modern cars are too complex for people to fix on their own and need a skilled technician, colleges and professors will always be the skills of educational mission and translate their knowledge into teachable materials in multiple media.
I think you can quickly develop all the skills required to be able to blend the art and science education technology. But only you can decide if this is an area that you are passionate about and are willing to commit to.
If you are, then I think you already know what you need to start doing, which is to begin acquiring the specific skills that employers are looking for in which can be documented without question. In this technical career field, examples of your performance speak volumes.

The good news for you is that you have many people available to use as a resource to help you in this specific area since more and more people are choosing this career path. A good mentor will be able to give you a hint and a push every once in a while.
A good book that can help you appreciate the technical challenges and rewards of this career field is entitled Understanding by Design, written by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe 

Expectations of a Master’s in Education Technology

While all online colleges and universities vary their individual programs to a certain extent, you can expect to learn about the following topics that will directly correlate with your work in the classroom every day.

First, you will learn to use the latest technologies as an instructional tool within your current classroom setting. Instead of using direct instruction as your primary teaching method, you will learn to implement technology into your lesson plans moving forward providing you with a greater range of educational resources. You might have students in your classroom learning through online mediums or learning through the use of a variety of educational software products. You will also learn to instruct using Smart Board technology as well as LCD projector systems- two items that are certainly becoming staples of today’s classrooms.

At this point, you will learn how to use the Internet more effectively as both an additional resource and teaching tool in your classroom. You will be able to lead students through research based projects or find educational games in which your students can participate to review key material that they need to know. If you have ever wanted to create a class website for students to access from home or away from school, you can learn to do that as well. On a class website, you can post such items as homework assignments, links to resources your students can use for class work, and upcoming test and quiz dates. This is also one way that you can keep lines of communication open with the parents and guardians of the students you teach.

You can also expect to take multiple courses about the field of online learning itself. This can come in very handy should you ever decide to teach classes online. Also, it is important to note that some school divisions require teachers to teach homebound students through online mediums. If you want to be able to instruct, assess, and evaluate students in an online learning format, the Master’s in Education Technology will show you exactly how to do just that.

Finally, you can expect to take classes that cover current trends in educational technologies, so that you can stay up to date with the latest developments in the field. Since technology is an ever-expanding field, you may not even be aware of how technology can help make your job easier while keeping students engaged in the learning process.

Educational Technology Promotes Visual Literacy

Visual literacy is the ability to analyze and derive meaning from information presented in image form. Under this definition, images can be “read” and through the process of “reading” these images, meaning can be derived and subsequently communicated.

One of the seven recommendations made in a report from the Office of Educational Technology (U.S. Department of Education, 2004) for continuing to improve the use of technology in schools is a distinct move toward digital content.

Moving Toward Digital Content

Anyone that has had a student in college recently knows first-hand that textbooks are becoming more expensive each semester, not to mention how quickly they become outdated. A move toward increased use of education technology and its digital content (multimedia and online information), and away from such textbooks, offers many advantages. In addition to the cost savings, it also means improved accessibility, increased efficiency, and enhancing learning opportunities in a format that engages today’s internet-focused students.

Because of the unprecedented rate of recent advances in educational technology, this move toward digital content also means that educators must increasingly promote visual literacy as indispensable to day-to-day life. Educators are just beginning to recognize the importance developing students’ visual literacy so they may survive, communicate, and succeed in a highly complex world.

Preparing Students for the Workplace

The DOE report makes it clear that educational technology consists of a set of strategic resources that improve a student’s “ability to sense, measure, question, understand, communicate, and learn.” These resources enable students to become scientists, focused on active learning, rather than passive consumers of textbook-delivered content. Students find it easier to learn core concepts because they are offered visual representations of ideas that provide more precision and clarity. Boring, passive memorization of content transforms into a dynamic, hands-on investigative process that exposes them to many of the same tools and processes that they will encounter in the workplace as adults.

Teaching visual literacy in the classroom means providing activities for students to critically analyze the images presented to them through media. It also means equipping students with the tools they need to present their work in a way that effectively communicates the content. More and more students are looking for educational technology to enhance their individual learning environments. As educators, it is our duty to provide it.