Technology has become an inseparable part of many sectors of our lives, and our educational systems are no exception. However, technology does not magically fuse itself into our education processes of its own accord. It takes a keen creative mind to analyze existing and upcoming technology systems and programs, then devise plans, improvements and (if necessary) entirely new technologies to promote the best learning experience possible.
Featured Online Colleges for Educational Technology in 2018
If you're considering an online degree program, especially in a highly specialized field like educational technology, rankings can serve as a good starting point to help you select a program that matches your goals and aspirations.
Our unique methodology ranks colleges on data from the National Center for Education Statistics' Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), utilizing criteria such as in-state tuition, graduation rate and number of online programs in the subject. Of the schools we evaluated, here are ten in particular that offer noteworthy online degree programs in educational technology.
University of Massachusetts - Boston
Fort Hays State University
Texas A&M University - Kingsville
University of West Georgia
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
University of Central Arkansas
East Carolina University
North Carolina A&T State University
North Carolina Central University
Appalachian State University
Degree Overview: Educational Technology
Though technology dominates nearly every aspect of modern life, one place where its role is still developing is in K-12 education. Educational technology specialists are breaking new ground as they work to combine technology and education into one advantageous experience, and they'll need a varied and knowledgeable skillset to be ready for the task. This section details some of the common coursework and skills emphasized in online programs for educational technology, and how it would be advantageous while working a career in the field.
Online Educational Technology Courses
An online education for educational technology (also called instructional technology) is an excellent step for preparing education professionals to effectively bring technology into schools. Typically, such programs are offered at the graduate level — Master of Education (M.Ed.), Education Specialist (Ed.S. or S.Ed.) or Doctor of Education (Ed.D.).
Though the specifics of online educational technology degree programs will of course vary between colleges, these programs are usually structured to teach students how technology can be implemented in education — from course websites and distance learning to elementary-level computer programs, assessment programs, multimedia for the classroom and more. Students enrolled in such a program will usually encounter coursework in the following topics:
- Research in education or instructional technology
- Planning and designing technology-enhanced instruction
- Introduction to distance or online learning
- Web-based instruction
- Multimedia applications in the classroom
- Instructional design
- Computer and Internet law
Following the graduate coursework, it's common for online programs for educational technology to include a capstone course, thesis or graduate research project as part of the degree requirements. Some programs also require field experience or internships.
It's rare to find online bachelor's degree programs in educational technology; the subject tends to be a specialization available for students who already have learned the fundamentals of teaching and are appropriately licensed to work in the classroom. As such, undergraduate students should focus on completing an accredited education program in a related field such as K-12 education, child development or special education, then pursuing educational technology as their graduate program. The situation can be turned to your advantage by planning your undergraduate program so that you can transfer credits from it into the educational technology program you wish to pursue afterwards, giving you a head start on your graduate work.
Career-Related Skills to Develop
In a field with such a descriptive name as "educational technology," some of the skills needed for related careers are going to be self-explanatory. Obviously, students of the field need to be knowledgeable about teaching and the learning process, as well as being interested in, and preferably familiar with, technology as it pertains to education.
But beyond that, there are other skills that are important to educational technology careers, and many of them should be emphasized in programs for the subject, giving students a chance to develop these skills in preparation for the workplace. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics' information about instructional coordinators, students pursuing degrees in educational technology should seek to develop the following skills:
- Communication skills: Only about one-fourth of teachers feel prepared to use technology as part of instruction. Whether it's due to lack of confidence or lack of information, teachers need educational technology professionals to share knowledge with them in a way that's useful, relatable and clear.
- Interpersonal skills: Having good working relationships paves the way for effective communication between teachers, principals and administrators. Many online education programs include team projects and field work, to emphasize this skill.
- Analytical skills: A big part of educational technology is developing and using computerized tools in order to measure the effectiveness of different learning techniques. Students earning educational technology degrees should learn to use assessment tools and analyze the data they capture to determine the best ways in which to use technology for instruction.
Educational Technology Career Outlook
Those who are passionate about the intersection of education and technology should explore instructional coordinator careers in schools and education centers. These workers oversee curriculum and teaching standards, taking special care to implement new technologies when doing so is advantageous for students. While they may not work directly with students, instructional coordinators do mentor and collaborate with teachers and other educators.
Because this role has the potential to influence educational experiences and outcomes for hundreds of not thousands of students, most instructional coordinator careers begin with a master's degree and experience within the realm of education. Some coordinators who work in public schools may need a state license.
Audio-visual and multimedia collections specialist careers can be a way to combine a love for the field of education with media technology. Those who have this job help students explore their passions and study topics using multimedia aids for educational purposes. To succeed in this career, you need to be comfortable with technology, computers and electronics, and other types of audio-visual equipment. You must also be passionate about using alternative forms of education, such as recorded or broadcast media.
Most audio-visual and multimedia collections specialist careers start with a bachelor's degree. Some professionals may also need a state license to operate depending on where they live.
Instructional designers and technologists rely on their love of technology to redesign educational courses in a thoughtful and up-to-date way. Not only do they decide which types of technology classrooms should implement, but they collaborate with teachers and educators to properly introduce students to new programs and how they work.
Since instructional designers work in both technology and education, they need a firm grasp on both career fields. Most instructional designer and technologist careers start with a master's degree in education or a related field. However, due to the advanced skill required for this job, related work experience may also be required.
To be included in these rankings, all colleges had to meet the following criteria for the specific subject being ranked:
- Offer at least one degree or certificate in that subject online
- Have awarded at least one degree or certificate in that subject in 2015-16
Once we had our list of schools for each subject, we ranked them on six criteria:
- In-state tuition, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Graduation rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Accessibility, based on the admissions rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Program prominence, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded by the school in 2015-16 were in this particular subject, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Related subjects, based on the number of similar programs that the school offers at any level, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Variety of degree levels, based on the number of degree and certificate levels out of a possible nine that the school offers in this particular subject, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2017-18, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/