Educational/Instructional Technology  Interviews

 
 

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dotWhat to Expect

Educational technology students can come from a wide variety of educational backgrounds. Instructors are needed in every institution, from schools to hospitals.

Imagine your next school assignment was to use a digital video camera to capture time-lapse shots of a bean seed when it germinates.

You'd process the video, add narration to explain why the roots grow down and how the stem twists toward the light. You could pull a digital video from the web and stitch it into your presentation. Then, present it to your class online or in the classroom.

These are the kinds of assignments Jerry Bleecker gives. He's a teacher and a student in a master's of educational technology program. He encourages students to put technology into action in ways that show what they are trying to communicate and achieve.

The educational technology program helps him to be a creative educator, like the teachers he admired as a student. "Now that I am a teacher, my goal is to innovate as they did, using technology to enhance, refine, and in many cases, transform teaching and learning in schools today," says Bleecker.

Some programs are totally online and students can participate from countries all over the world. "When a document begins in British Columbia, is refined in China, polished in Ontario, proofed in Japan and submitted from New York, you know you've been part of a truly global learning experience," says Bleecker.

Bernadette Minuto is middle school computer science teacher taking her master's in educational technology at San Diego State University. She loves how the program can apply to both educational and corporate settings. Students of any age can have learning gaps for different reasons.

"It is important to identify the reasons for which students are not performing, instead of just settling for more instruction," says Minuto. Her program helps her to evaluate educational programs and materials and to develop her own.

New students must realize that educational technology programs are not about instructor-led coursework. Students are very involved and learn from each other. "It's about discussing and applying theory with other students in a digital forum. Forget tests. Putting theory into action -- that's what's important," says Bleecker.

When you choose a school, it is important to find out if the faculty can teach you how to apply the theory in the workforce.

Yong Chen takes educational technology at San Diego State University. He's happy with the faculty at his school.

"They are experts in this domain who have a close relationship with working professionals. What they teach is what is applied in the real world," he says. He has a background in advertising, but wants to apply this degree working as an instructional technologist or an e-learning specialist.

Online programs offer flexible schedules, so students can work while they are going to school.

Bleecker spends an average of six to eight hours per week doing work for his online program. During project work his average is often 12 hours.

Minuto attends class on campus and time management is the trick to balancing her demanding schedule. She spends between five and 15 hours per week on homework depending on the assignments given.

Textbooks can get expensive. Save by shopping online or using electric textbooks which are cheaper than paper versions. For this program, it was absolutely essential to have a computer. "Laptops are the best," says Minuto. Software and other accessories will be another expense.

How to Prepare

Students interested in pursuing educational technology should investigate information technology (IT) courses.

"Although technology is becoming more available in the mainstream classroom, the IT classroom often examines new technologies and encourages digital pioneers to explore what's out there. Challenging students to use technology to communicate, collaborate, analyze and learn is a tremendous educational opportunity for everyone in the classroom," says Bleecker.

Bleecker encourages students to use technology to complete their assignments at school. Dive into it and get creative.

Minuto agrees that creativity in solving problems is the key for educational technology. "It's really an amazing field that is applicable everywhere you look," she says.