What Is Educational Technology?
Technology has changed every industry and aspect of our lives—education most definitely included. New technological devices and software have impacted the educational experience at every level. It's changed the way teachers organize material and the way students access it. It's transformed the way students connect with their peers and the way they’re evaluated by instructors.
The vast amount and variety in technology available in the modern world can be overwhelming. It’s no easy task for teachers to navigate how to effectively incorporate tech in the classroom. That’s where educational technologists come in.
Broadly speaking, educational technology is the practice of designing, creating, and implementing technology-driven solutions to to address learning challenges. To do this, educational technology specialists utilize a wide array of tools, including:
- Learning management systems
- Mobile apps for phones and tablets
- Software for desktop computers
- Activities that encourage content creation, either through writing or other media
- Videos and animations
- Customized website development
- Simulations and digital modeling
These tools must be developed and put into practice by professionals who have both a strong expertise in instructional theory and in new and emerging technologies. This is the role of educational technology specialists. Whether in K-12 settings, at the collegiate level, or in a corporation or other organization, these specialists ensure that technology is used as effectively as possible.
As you can likely tell, ed tech is a diverse field. Professionals in ed tech fill many roles. Some of the most common ed tech occupations include Chief Technology Officers, Managers of Training and Development, Distance Learning Coordinators, and Instructional Coordinators.
The path to one of these roles most often includes a master’s degree. We’ve provided more information about master’s degrees, and other types of degrees, in another FAQ post: “What kinds of degrees can I earn in educational technology?” But here are the highlights:
A Master of Education in Educational Technology or Instructional Technology is usually designed for individuals who plan to work in a K-12 school. These programs tend to strike a balance between technology-focused classes and classes in educational policy, pedagogy, and cognition and memory.
Many schools also offer a Master of Arts or Master of Science degree program that emphasizes technology rather than K-12 instruction. These degrees are often much more widely applicable. An M.A. or an M.S. can be ideal for trainers and instructors working in a corporate or nonprofit context.
Educational technology is perfect for people who have a passion for teaching others as well as a strong interest in working with and even creating new technology. If you think an ed tech career is in your future, take a look at our next FAQ: “What are my job prospects with a degree in educational technology?”