Technology is changing the face of education, from lectures on YouTube to real-time feedback devices in classrooms, progressive teachers are making use of the latest innovations to improve course delivery and learning outcomes. Keeping up with this developing technology is in itself a full-time job, and many schools and universities employ educational technology directors or support personnel to help teachers integrate technology in the classroom.
Online education degrees in educational technology are an ideal way for motivated students to gain familiarity with both the topic and the medium of study. As education makes increasing use of web-based technologies, individuals with first-hand experience in those technologies are ideal candidates to design and implement educational technology programs at other schools.
Educational Technology: An Overview
In 2008, the federal government allocated $247.9 million to states to improve academic achievement through technology, assist students in crossing the digital divide, and integrate technology into teacher training and curriculum development.
In November of 2010, Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, released the final version of the National Education Technology Plan -- Transforming American Education: Learning Powered by Technology. "We must dramatically improve teaching and learning, personalize instruction, and ensure that the educational environments we offer to all students keep pace with the 21st century," Duncan said. Given this push for "learning powered by technology" from the federal government, individual states, business entities and educational institutions, degrees in educational technology can lead to exciting career prospects for students.
Choosing the Right Educational Technology Degree
Master of Education or Doctor of Education degrees offer a number of specializations, including instruction systems; instructional design and technology; educational leadership and technology; education, media design and technology; or many other similarly named programs, all seeking to integrate, evaluate and improve technology in education.
Educational professionals in other fields, such as teachers or administrators, may pursue certificates or online degrees in educational technology to enhance their current skill set or move into more technology-oriented roles.
Careers in Educational Technology
Educational technology careers include training specialists, course developers, corporate trainers, directors of distance education, instructional program managers and technology support professionals. The level of education required depends on the responsibilities of the position and can include associate and bachelor's degrees, graduate certificates, and master's and doctoral degrees.
Educational technology professionals are employed at organizations such as libraries, museums, community organizations and more. Educational technology jobs are even found in the military and government -- or any place where educational programs need to be brought into the technology age. Professionals in this field usually have a respect and love for education as well as a keen understanding of how much technology can add to the educational experience.
Employment and Salary Outlook
The following June 2011 average salary data for educational technology careers is from job listing site, Indeed.com:
- Director of distance education: $65,000
- Training specialist: $67,000
- Educational technology support: $76,000
- Course developer: $87,000
- Corporate trainer: $88,000
- Educational software consultant: $89,000
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), instructional coordinators -- a category that includes educational technologists -- earned a mean annual salary of $61,270 in 2010 and are projected to see 23 percent job growth between 2008 and 2018. Of the 128,780 jobs in the field in 2010, 54,720 were in elementary and secondary schools, and 17,060 were in colleges, universities and professional schools.
Education technology at a glance:
- Funding: The federal government allocated $247.9 million to states for educational technology
- Employment: Most instructional designers and technologists are employed at elementary and secondary schools
- Growth: Instructional coordinators are estimated to see 23 percent job growth from 2008 to 2018.
Online Doctoral Degrees in Educational Technology
As more and more institutions utilize emerging technologies that offer new and scalable ways of reaching students, there is no doubting the drastic shift of the educational landscape. Using technology effectively in the classroom requires aligning new tools with learning objectives, student abilities and assessment methods. A doctoral degree in educational technology prepares individuals to understand the latest innovations and its uses in a learning environment.
Individuals who hold a doctorate in educational technology, sometimes called instructional technologies or learning technologies, are trained to research complex applications and to provide critical leadership in evaluating and implementing new technologies in the classroom.
Ed.D. vs. Ph.D.: Which Is Right for You?
Graduate-level degree programs in educational technology are generally offered by colleges of education, and your degree may be a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) or Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). Some doctoral programs also offer certification programs in specific areas, such as K-12 technology, multimedia design and development, and distance learning.
The decision to purse either an Ed.D. or a Ph.D. in educational technology depends primarily on your career goals. The coursework required to earn an Ed.D. offers an applied approach to educational technology. This degree is designed to prepare students for careers as scholar-practitioners and may focus on evaluating the effectiveness of technology in the classroom through empirical research.
In comparison, a Ph.D. in educational technology often requires students to focus on theory and original scholarship. This degree helps prepare students for careers as scholars and academics, as well as administrative or policy-making positions.
A wide range of schools offer online doctoral degrees in educational technology. These flexible programs are designed to allow present and future educators to gain in-depth knowledge about the potential of high-tech classrooms. Program formats range from fully online degree programs to blended programs that combine online and on-campus coursework. Some programs that offer fully online curriculum require students to attend brief campus residencies throughout the program.
What Does a Doctoral Degree Program in Educational Technology Entail?
Online doctoral programs in educational technology are typically composed of two phases. During the first portion of the degree program, students complete coursework in both core areas and an area of focus. Coursework usually takes two to three years for full-time students. Once coursework is complete, students move on to the dissertation phase of the program. Ph.D. students typically carry out original research on a theoretical problem and write a dissertation about their results. Ed.D. students may write a traditional academic dissertation, or they may conduct an applied research project and complete a shorter doctoral project.
Admission to a doctoral program generally requires a master's degree in an education field, and some schools require students to have a certain amount of work experience as well. Admission requirements vary from school to school, so check with program representatives about prerequisites, test scores and other admissions criteria at your school.
If you're ready to begin researching online doctoral programs in instructional technology, start by browsing through the schools below. Request additional information from programs appropriate to your preferences and availability.