When we entered the 21st century, education and technology became synonymous with one another. Today, classrooms use technology on a daily basis, providing students with the skills they will need to live and work in this technological world. In order to implement technology appropriately and use it to its greatest capabilities, teachers are turning to, as well as turning into, instructional technology coaches. Instructional technology coaches are able to develop curriculum, train teachers in educational programs, and assist in integrating technology into the classroom. While sharing many similarities to a master’s in educational technology, a master’s instructional technology degree is slightly different. It provides teachers with many skills they can use to amplify students’ learning experiences and gives these educators options for different career paths.
What is a Master’s in Instructional Technology?
A master’s degree in instructional technology provides its graduates with skills and abilities needed to integrate technology into classrooms, the confidence to train teachers in best practices and implementation processes, and the leadership skills needed to promote the district-wide vision for technology. This is similar yet different from a degree in educational technology, where the main goal is to support a student’s academics through the use of technology tools. An instructional technology degree develops a variety of essential skills that help one become a leader in the technology field as well as the skills to support staff and students in effectively using technology to enhance student achievement.
What You Will Learn in an Instructional Tech. Program
There are many skills that one will develop through an instructional technology degree program. Not only will educators learning this field gain understanding of new technology tools and best practices; but they will become guides and leaders that other staff can lean on. Instructional technology skills one will develop through a master’s program include how to:
- Integrate technology into educational classrooms or environments
- Facilitate digital learning
- Address diverse needs of learners
- Use theories, standards, and frameworks to select appropriate technology tools for classrooms and districts
- Demonstrate mastery of evidence-based concepts through the modeling of best practices in educational technology
- Effectively manage digital resources
- Establish cultures of 21st century learning and growth mindsets
- Understand principles and theories of curriculum design through the use of technology
Instructional technology degrees open up a range of career opportunities for educators. Teachers with this degree can become technology coordinators, technology integration specialists, district-level technology specialists, mentor coaches, or media specialists. Instructional technology degrees shape educators into experts in the technology field, including how to effectively implement various technology tools or programs to amplify student learning. They are well versed in research on how technology can connect to teaching and learning. They can troubleshoot and assist teachers when technological glitches arise. Along with these things, people with this degree stay on the forefront of innovative technology tools and practices.
Why Now is the Right Time to Get an Instructional Technology Degree
Education has undergone many changes over the past year and a half with the COVID-19 pandemic overtaking the world. Students learned in ways they never had before, most of which included technology either partially or, much more common, completely. Teachers and students alike had to pivot to online learning without any sort of notice or preparation. Some teachers, the ones with instructional technology degrees, more than likely felt somewhat confident in this abrupt learning switch. Others, those teachers unfamiliar and not comfortable with technology, describe that transition as one of the hardest moments in their career.
Whether teachers were comfortable or not with the online learning environment, the pandemic taught us that students can, in fact, learn in a variety of ways and even from a variety of places. This realization is going to forever change how we look at educating a child. Is a student gone on vacation? They can still submit their assignments through Google Classroom or Seesaw. Are you having a handful of snow days that are interrupting learning? Students can meet virtually with their teacher to attend lectures or stay caught up on work. If there is one thing the pandemic has taught the world of education, it is that we don’t have to be in the same physical space to see learning and growing happening.
If you were hesitant before about getting an instructional technology degree, proof of the importance of this additional education should be clearer than ever. Technology is the language students speak; they were born with it, learn with it, and will likely have jobs where technology is a necessary part of completing their day-to-day work. Instructional technology degrees are available in person and online, making it easy to choose the format you can learn best in. Some even offer “go-at-your-own pace”, which can be helpful if you have little ones at home or other obligations that make it hard to find the time to fit it all in.
Technology is used in classrooms on a regular basis, which means it is important to have staff who are experts in implementing, developing, and educating others on best practices. Instructional Technology degrees develop valuable skills educators can use to support 21st century learning and amplify students’ learning experiences.