Expectations of a Master’s in Education Technology

While all online colleges and universities vary their individual programs to a certain extent, you can expect to learn about the following topics that will directly correlate with your work in the classroom every day.

First, you will learn to use the latest technologies as an instructional tool within your current classroom setting. Instead of using direct instruction as your primary teaching method, you will learn to implement technology into your lesson plans moving forward providing you with a greater range of educational resources. You might have students in your classroom learning through online mediums or learning through the use of a variety of educational software products. You will also learn to instruct using Smart Board technology as well as LCD projector systems- two items that are certainly becoming staples of today’s classrooms.

At this point, you will learn how to use the Internet more effectively as both an additional resource and teaching tool in your classroom. You will be able to lead students through research based projects or find educational games in which your students can participate to review key material that they need to know. If you have ever wanted to create a class website for students to access from home or away from school, you can learn to do that as well. On a class website, you can post such items as homework assignments, links to resources your students can use for class work, and upcoming test and quiz dates. This is also one way that you can keep lines of communication open with the parents and guardians of the students you teach.

You can also expect to take multiple courses about the field of online learning itself. This can come in very handy should you ever decide to teach classes online. Also, it is important to note that some school divisions require teachers to teach homebound students through online mediums. If you want to be able to instruct, assess, and evaluate students in an online learning format, the Master’s in Education Technology will show you exactly how to do just that.

Finally, you can expect to take classes that cover current trends in educational technologies, so that you can stay up to date with the latest developments in the field. Since technology is an ever-expanding field, you may not even be aware of how technology can help make your job easier while keeping students engaged in the learning process.

Breakthroughs in Educational Technology – From the Humble Blackboard to the Indispensable Smartboard

If you enjoy wandering around the Internet in search of insights into the explosion in the use of technology in traditional classrooms and industrial settings, YouTube should make you feel like the “kid in the candy store.”

On a recent visit, we stumbled across something interesting in a video entitled A Vision of Students Today. A graphic towards the end of the video displayed the following comment about a revolutionary breakthrough in educational technology in the classroom. Here is the quote:

  • The inventor of the system deserves to be ranked among the best contributors to learning and science, if not the greatest benefactors of mankind.

The author of the statement was an American educator named Josiah Bumstead. The year was 1841. And what was the “system” of which he spoke? The humble blackboard/chalkboard!

One could speculate that as far back as the time of the Ancient Egyptians, a few people responsible for teaching realized the value in using visuals in the classrooms of the day, but the technology simply was not available. Pigments and wall drawings took time.

In that context, consider how revolutionary the advent of the chalkboard was. It freed good teachers from the prison of their lecture notes and allowed them to “think on their feet.”

If you think back over the course of your life to the teachers who inspired you, among them there was surely one or more who were veritable wizards at the chalkboard.

They dazzled us with their enthusiasm and the speed with which they displayed their words of wisdom for all to see. What’s more, from time to time they actually asked for our input. Remember the thrill you felt the first time your own words appeared on the chalkboard? Good teachers knew not to filter what we had to say. They accepted our thoughts and up they went on the board. And great teachers gave us the ultimate thrill – the opportunity to write on the chalkboard ourselves.

It has long been an axiom of educational practice that seeing words as well as hearing them leads to better learning. Today, research on how the brain learns confirms what many have believed for more than one hundred years – active involvement of students in the learning process facilitates learning.

In its day, your own words appearing on a blackboard was a significant facilitator. Brain-based research now tells us colors and sounds enhance visuals even further. Although the cleaner and more visually appealing eraser board long ago replaced the chalkboard, it still lacks the appeal of a well-designed PowerPoint presentation. Or does it?

PowerPoint presentations with the most dazzling graphics and sounds imaginable can still suffer from one major drawback – whose words appear in the presentation? In effect, the implication here is that in at least one aspect, students scribbling their own thoughts on an eraser board is superior to a pre-prepared power point presentation.

And today we have the twenty-first century version of the chalkboard available to us – the Smartboard. In essence, it’s a chalkboard linked to a computer. If you have never heard of one, or seen what they can do, pay a visit to YouTube and be prepared to be amazed.

Educational Technology Promotes Visual Literacy

Visual literacy is the ability to analyze and derive meaning from information presented in image form. Under this definition, images can be “read” and through the process of “reading” these images, meaning can be derived and subsequently communicated.

One of the seven recommendations made in a report from the Office of Educational Technology (U.S. Department of Education, 2004) for continuing to improve the use of technology in schools is a distinct move toward digital content.

Moving Toward Digital Content

Anyone that has had a student in college recently knows first-hand that textbooks are becoming more expensive each semester, not to mention how quickly they become outdated. A move toward increased use of education technology and its digital content (multimedia and online information), and away from such textbooks, offers many advantages. In addition to the cost savings, it also means improved accessibility, increased efficiency, and enhancing learning opportunities in a format that engages today’s internet-focused students.

Because of the unprecedented rate of recent advances in educational technology, this move toward digital content also means that educators must increasingly promote visual literacy as indispensable to day-to-day life. Educators are just beginning to recognize the importance developing students’ visual literacy so they may survive, communicate, and succeed in a highly complex world.

Preparing Students for the Workplace

The DOE report makes it clear that educational technology consists of a set of strategic resources that improve a student’s “ability to sense, measure, question, understand, communicate, and learn.” These resources enable students to become scientists, focused on active learning, rather than passive consumers of textbook-delivered content. Students find it easier to learn core concepts because they are offered visual representations of ideas that provide more precision and clarity. Boring, passive memorization of content transforms into a dynamic, hands-on investigative process that exposes them to many of the same tools and processes that they will encounter in the workplace as adults.

Teaching visual literacy in the classroom means providing activities for students to critically analyze the images presented to them through media. It also means equipping students with the tools they need to present their work in a way that effectively communicates the content. More and more students are looking for educational technology to enhance their individual learning environments. As educators, it is our duty to provide it.