A broad term, educational technology covers a diverse field that includes integrated components such as instructional design, technology leadership, media, and curriculum design. Education technology professionals work in academic fields such as K-12 education, instructional design, and program assessment. They are responsible for integrating technology into learning environments, using that technology to enrich traditional curriculum and the overall learning experience for students.
Today, many universities and colleges continue to expand their department offerings to include degrees in education technology. Below is a ranked list of the best educational technology degrees available to students.
Children today live in an increasingly interconnected, technologically grounded world. As a result, tomorrow’s teachers need to be equipped with not only an understanding of that technology, but also the ability to leverage it to support and augment traditional learning models.
Specifically, the K-12 educational setting is becoming more grounded in technology—from online delivery of instruction to video applications in the classroom, e-learning platforms (such as Blackboard) to online enrollment programs. For better or worse, technology is transforming how students learn—and, more importantly—how teachers teach.
Training in the field of education technology is available at multiple levels, including bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. Educators desiring to work in the classroom need to secure teacher licensure in their state, which typically requires a 12-week (or more) practicum that takes place in the classroom.
The delivery format for each of these programs varies by individual institutions and are generally available in two formats: entirely online and hybrid. Again, online educational technology degrees that are entirely online may require an in-person student teaching practicum component if a teaching licensure option is included in the program of study. In the hybrid model, students complete a majority of their courses through online study, but are required to participate in a set number of in-person colloquia or learning sessions at their respective campus. For example, the online Ed.D. in Educational Technology at the University of Florida requires three mandatory campus-based summer meetings—one before the program starts, one during the first year, and one during the second year of study.
Additionally, prospective educators completing an online degree at a university that does not reside in their state should confirm with their state board of education that their degree meets the requirements for securing a teaching license for that state.
For the prospective educator, completing an undergraduate program of study is the first step in earning K-12 technology education teaching certification. Online bachelor’s degrees in this area are traditionally Bachelor of Science in Education degrees with concentrations such as educational technology or instructional technology and design.
However, depending on the specific online degree program, educational technology may not be a teacher certification area within the university, which means that students may be required to complete a teacher licensure program prior to finishing coursework or credit hours in educational technology. Students or educators that do not possess teacher certification credentials should discuss their options with their state licensing office prior to enrolling in a program.
Typically designed to be completed through four years of full-time study (120 to 136 credit hours), online bachelor’s degree programs in educational technology offer a comprehensive curriculum divided between general education coursework, major requirements, and electives. The emphasis of this curriculum covers both theoretical and practical knowledge, introducing students to subjects such as classroom technologies, interactive media, educational psychology, and transformational learning.
Take a look at some of the courses online learners might encounter during their undergraduate studies in education technology:
|Online Course||Course Description|
|Teaching in an online environment||
This course is designed to provide prospective educators with the necessary technical skills and theoretical knowledge to develop and implement online instruction through a course management system (CMS).
|Technology in learning and teaching||
This course provides educators with a fundamental understanding of the concepts and skills required to apply technology in the K-12 educational setting./p>
|Foundations of digital learning||
This course engages students to develop critical thinking strategies for digital learning spaces, including instruction in communication, information literacy, social responsibilities, and more.
|Internet in the classroom||
This course provides educators with training in conducting internet research and web page design to produce educational materials for use in the classroom.
|Multimedia for the K-12 classroom||
This course focuses on the integration of multimedia into the classroom, examining how multimedia is capable of addressing various learning styles, and developing project- and evaluation-based multimedia curriculum.
|Students and interface design||
This course introduces the varied methods for measuring and enhancing how students and digital devices, such as computers, interact.
|Using technology in the classroom||
This course focuses on hands-on experience working with computer hardware and software systems in educational settings, including networked computing, to develop integrated classroom curriculum and learning strategies.
|Integrating video into the classroom||
This course provides educators with fundamental instruction in using video technology in the classroom, introducing them to an array of video applications that can be used to enhance student learning opportunities.
An online master’s in educational technology is an advanced degree, one firmly rooted in increasing the knowledge, abilities, and skills of educators, particularly those in K-12 settings. Online master’s degrees in this area address the accelerating changes in technology at both the administrative and classroom levels. Prospective students can traditionally pursue two types of degrees in the field:
Master of Education in Educational Technology (M.E.T.). The M.E.T. is a professional degree designed to develop practical skills in educators. By providing a theoretical foundation and building upon existing hands-on knowledge of how technology can enhance and be integrated into the classroom, these programs help teachers become more efficient and effective educators.
Master of Science in Educational Technology. This is a research-focused degree commonly designed for students considering pursuing an Ed.D. or Ph.D., or moving into research-centered academic positions. This degree allows students to pursue deeper theoretical study of various areas within educational technology, such as educational gaming, virtual instruction, and multimedia.
Online master’s programs in educational technology can be completed either fully online or via hybrid learning (requiring some in-person meetings or instruction). In online programs, students have the opportunity to participate in interactive learning environments, connecting with both faculty and classmates through online community discussions and other virtual communication tools.
Completing an online master’s degree in educational technology typically requires between 30 and 36 credit hours, depending on the program. Although coursework varies by institution and degree, students generally explore the critical concepts of online learning and technology, instructional design, media, and theoretical foundations.
Below is an example list of courses that students may encounter in an education technology master’s degree program:
|Online Course||Course Description|
The purpose of this course is to introduce educators to the fundamentals of human learning, covering the concepts and theoretical principles of the intersection between instructional technology and where learning occurs.
|Learning with digital media||
Educators learn how to leverage digital media for both teaching and student learning, develop proficiency with digital media tools, and gain an understanding of how digital media can be used for analysis and delivery of instruction in the classroom.
|Interactive courseware development||
Educators are introduced to the tools used in the development of interactive courseware, which is used for the delivery of online instruction.
Educators learn about the theory about and implementation of educational games and how virtual learning environments can spur student engagement.
|Integrating technology into the classroom||
In this course, educators learn fundamental integration strategies and how to use software, applications and other resources to develop and introduce integrated technology-based activities in the classroom.
|Educational technology leadership||
In this class, educators gain insight into the leadership principles of educational technology programs, which includes both theoretical modeling and real-world processes that guide policy development.
|Social networking, learning, and the classroom||
In this course, educators are able to explore the pedagogies behind the use of social networking in K-12 learning environments.
A core class, educators learn about the systematic instruction design and how to model integrated learning experiences.
A professional, terminal degree, the Ed.S. is designed to enhance master’s level education by blending theoretical and practical knowledge, usually in K-12 educational settings. These online programs prepare educators, instructional designers, librarians, and education specialists for educational technology leadership positions. At this level, students dive into current research and trends as well as emerging theories in the field, allowing them to develop a critical understanding of how technology can at once impact, shape, and influence teacher instruction and student learning. Simply put, the goal of online Ed.S. programs is to further enhance the skills and competencies of educators so that they can create technology-rich and engaging learning environments.
Through a comprehensive program of study that includes instruction in blended learning environments, integrated media, and instructional computing, students in Ed.S. distance programs traditionally realize the following outcomes:
Advances in technology have reshaped the landscape of 21st century education, requiring dynamic educators and leaders who understand the science of learning. Both online Ph.D. and Ed.D. programs in educational technology are specifically designed to prepare these educators and leaders to handle the challenges associated with addressing technology’s overall impact on learning environments.
The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) is an academic-focused degree program designed for individuals who desire to pursue scholarly research, driving academic scholarship that strives to understand the dynamic between people and technology in various learning formats. The Doctor of Education (Ed.D.), on the other hand, is an advanced professional degree designed to prepare educators for leadership positions. Graduates of this degree can use their expertise to enhance K-12 educational policies and curriculum, teacher development, virtual school instruction, and more.
Depending on the university, the specific Ph.D. or Ed.D. online programs may vary. Example doctoral educational technology degrees include the following:
Ed.D. in Instructional Technology and Media
Ed.D. in Educational Technology Leadership
Ed.D. in Instructional Systems Technology
Ph.D. in Education–Instructional Technology
Ph.D. in Education Learning Technologies
Ph.D. in Instructional Design and Technology
Students enrolling in either degree option are typically part of a cohort, meaning students study and advance with a cadre of other students who were admitted at the same time. Although many universities have launched–or are planning to launch–completely online doctoral degree programs in educational technology, others offer hybrid programs, requiring a series of face-to-face meetings during the academic year.
Karl Ochsner knows the importance of technology in education today, and his education and work experience are proof. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College in communications with an emphasis in video, animation and special effects. After working as a freelancer, he went back to school and eventually earned his Ed.D. in Education Innovation and Leadership from Arizona State University. He is also an adjunct faculty member at ASU and a member of the AZ K12 Centers Teacher Solutions Team, helping to find solutions to help Arizona schools.
As a middle school STEM teacher, Ochsner focused his dissertation on integrating technology in the classroom. “I chose technology because I could combine my interest in education with having students create their own content to help themselves learn.”
Ochsner, who is also director of technology at his K-8 school and a teacher coach for his school’s 1:1 iPad program, found game creation and technology integration classes to be most helpful in his own education. “It is where students hang out and gives them opportunities in a way that interests them. It also makes them participants in their learning.”
It’s clear that Ochsner’s heart is truly in education and technology. Though he has earned the capstone degree in his field, he hopes to pursue National Board Certification.