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