Although technology has become a cornerstone of modern society, educators have been slow to embrace the digital revolution. A recent survey from U.S. News & World Report found that merely 8% of teachers 'fully integrate' technology in their classrooms; meanwhile, 43% of students feel 'unprepared' to use technology as they advance to higher education or enter the workforce. The field of educational technology seeks to reverse these trends.
What are the best educational technology programs of 2020? Here are our top 10:
|1||Johns Hopkins University||Baltimore, MD|
|2||North Carolina State University||Raleigh, NC|
|3||Florida State University||Tallahassee, FL|
|4||University of Central Florida||Orlando, FL|
|5||University of Georgia||Athens, GA|
|6||California State University, Fullerton||Fullerton, CA|
|7||University of Virginia||Charlottesville, VA|
|8||George Washington University||Washington, DC|
|9||University of Houston-Clear Lake||Houston, TX|
|10||Pepperdine University||Malibu, CA|
Also known as instructional technology, educational technology is the study of various tools, platforms, and learning management systems used to facilitate and enhance learning at all academic levels, from preschool and kindergarten to the postsecondary level. This discipline not only explores the design and implementation of various educational media, but also the underlying theories and approaches to learning that drive these innovations. Educational technology is a popular area of specialization among today's students seeking master's degrees in education. Many graduates go on to pursue careers as instructional coordinators, utilizing different technologies to develop curricula and learning standards at schools across the country. However, the multidisciplinary nature of educational technology is also useful for aspiring teachers, school administrators, counselors, and other school personnel.
Read on to learn more about the cutting-edge field of educational technology, as well as some tips for finding the best online master's degree in educational technology programs.
- WHAT CAN I DO WITH A MASTER'S IN EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY?
Graduates with a master's in educational technology are prepared for many careers, including curriculum developer, curriculum director, and technology coordinator. Read more here..
- WHERE CAN I GET A MASTER'S DEGREE IN EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY?
Many schools offer on-campus and online programs in educational technology. BestColleges has a ranking of 50 schools that offer online master's degrees in the field. Read more here..
- WHY GET A MASTER'S IN EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY ONLINE?
Professionals who hold a master's degree have a lower unemployment rate than those with a bachelor's. They also have a higher earning potential. Read more here..
- WHAT IS AN EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY DEGREE?
Educational technology programs teach students how to integrate various tools, platforms, and learning management systems to enhance learning at all academic levels. Read more here..
Choosing a Program
WILL THIS PROGRAM PROVIDE ME WITH THE SKILLS I NEED TO ADVANCE MY CAREER?
A master's in educational technology online program will introduce students to the latest tools and platforms used in the education profession, as well as the foundational technologies that have served as building blocks over the years. Some programs allow students to concentrate their studies in certain specialization areas, such as special education technology or early childhood education technology. Additionally, many online master's in educational technology include practicum courses, which allow students to visit working schools and receive hands-on training from experienced teaching professionals. Some programs culminate in a capstone project, as well, which may take the form of a formal presentation or a portfolio requirement.
HOW DO I FIND THE RIGHT ONLINE PROGRAM FOR ME?
The requirements of an online master's in educational technology program will vary from school to school, so you should take time to research each program and ensure your top choices align with your career goals. Student outcomes can be quite useful during this process; carefully vet each candidate school to learn about dropouts, student retention, graduation rates, post-degree career statistics, and other learning trends. Accreditation is also crucial; all of your potential schools should have earned accreditation from a recognized, accrediting organization. Also keep an eye on courses and programmatic requirements, such as capstones and practicum courses, to ensure that you'll receive an adequate level of education, training and evaluation before entering the workforce.
CAN I WORK WHILE I COMPLETE MY ONLINE MASTER'S in EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY?
Online students with part- or full-time jobs tend to thrive in asynchronous (or self-paced) master's degree programs. These flexible tracks allows you to access lectures and course materials using streaming video and other online platforms, submit assignments via email, take online exams, and participate in virtual discussions with your professors and fellow learners. Current technology also enables you to study away from your home computer using a laptop, tablet, smartphone, and other devices with Wi-Fi access. For added convenience, you will be able to coordinate practicum courses at schools that are reasonably close to your current residence, rather than commuting long distances.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES TO EARNING MY MASTER'S IN EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY ONLINE?
The best online master's degree in educational technology programs are designed to mirror on-campus offerings. Web-based students follow the same rigorous curriculum as their brick-and-mortar counterparts, and often compete for the same jobs after graduation. In exchange, online learners follow a flexible course structure that is particularly conducive to those with jobs, small children, and other important commitments that may potentially conflict with campus-based education.
What Are The Best Online Master's in Educational Technology Programs?
Johns Hopkins University
|Baltimore, MD||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 93%||
The School of Education at Johns Hopkins confers about 1,000 degrees each year, including online master's degrees in digital age learning and educational technology. Students can complete this 36-credit master of science program in two years (with full-time enrollment) to five years (with part-time enrollment). Program and course objectives align with standards established by the International Society for Technology in Education.
Required courses utilize project-based and collaborative learning strategies. Core courses explore culturally responsive teaching, emerging issues in digital age learning, research, and advanced applications in digital learning. Required courses focus on skill development in instructional design, data-driven decision-making, integrating media, and technology leadership.
Johns Hopkins accepts applications on a rolling basis. Prospective students must complete an online application and submit a resume, 500-word essay, two letters of recommendation, and official transcripts.
North Carolina State University
|Raleigh, NC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 81%||
Teachers and other individuals interested in pursuing online graduate study in educational technology at NC State can earn a 30-credit M.Ed. or a 36-credit MS in learning design and technology. MS students complete a thesis, and licensed teachers who enroll may add a technology endorsement to their license.
Students may specialize in digital leadership, inquiry, or design. Core courses include cultural investigations, instructional materials design and evaluation, and a field-based practicum. NC State offers additional courses in emerging technologies, staff development, and online instruction.
Applicants with a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA qualify for unconditional admission. Interested educators should submit official transcripts, three letters of recommendation, and a 500-800-word professional statement to apply.
Florida State University
|Tallahassee, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 83%||
FSU offers an online master's in instructional systems and learning technologies that is designed for those interested in becoming instructional designers. Students can complete this 36-credit master of science degree in two years by taking two courses at a time on a year-round basis.
Learners must complete 18 credits of required coursework, 15 credits of electives, an internship, and a portfolio. Required courses introduce learning theories, instructional design, current trends, technology, and inquiry. Additional course topics include measurement, evaluation, and emerging technologies.
FSU seeks applicants with a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. The school may waive GRE scores for experienced instructional designers and others with prior graduate study. Applicants must submit a statement of purpose, resume, transcripts, and three letters of recommendation. Out-of-state residents may qualify for a reduced online tuition rate.
University of Central Florida
|Orlando, FL||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 73%||
UCF offers more than 30 online master's degrees, including a master's in instructional design and technology with concentrations in educational technology, e-learning, and instructional systems. Designed for teachers, the fully online, 36-credit educational technology track requires core classes in instructional technology, specialization courses, elective classes, and a practicum.
Core course topics include current trends, research, statistics, data-driven decision-making, and instructional systems design. Students take professional specialization courses in emerging technologies, multimedia, and technology integration. Participants can choose from a variety of electives, although UCF does not offer all electives online.
Applicants must apply online and submit official transcripts, a resume, and two letters of recommendation. UCF offers several start dates each year.
University of Georgia
|Athens, GA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 86%||
Chartered in 1785, UGA offers 19 online graduate degrees, including a master of education in learning, design, and technology with a concentration in instructional design and development. Students can complete this 36-credit master's degree entirely online, although UGA encourages students to attend an annual on-campus conference.
This two-year cohort program requires students to take two courses per term. Students also complete a portfolio, which serves as the basis for a comprehensive exam. Course topics include learning environments design, e-learning assessment, research methods, and designing online courses.
As part of UGA's online application process, applicants must submit GRE or MAT scores, a goal statement and online portfolio, a resume, three letters of recommendation, and unofficial transcripts. Accepted students may transfer in up to nine credits.
California State University, Fullerton
|Fullerton, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 68%||
CSUF's College of Education offers an online master of science in education with a concentration in educational technology. The degree requires 10 classes, including a culminating project, research project, or thesis. Students can complete this cohort-based program — which aligns with standards established by the International Society for Technology in Education — in 16 months.
Core courses explore educational research, learning theory, and curriculum theory. Concentration courses cover technology in schools, instructional design, multimedia, web design, and professional development. Students engage with course content collaboratively and through a variety of current media.
Applicants with an approved study plan, a minimum 3.0 GPA in previous coursework, an approved major, and a teaching credential or other relevant experience may qualify for graduate standing. However, this program does not require applicants to submit GRE scores.
University of Virginia
|Charlottesville, VA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 94%||
UVA's School of Education offers a 30-credit master of education in curriculum and instruction with a 15-credit concentration in instructional technology. Full-time students can complete this fully online degree in one year, while part-time students may take up to five years.
Students take core courses in curriculum, instruction, assessment, and diversity. Instructional technology course topics include instructional design, courseware tools, online K-12 instruction, and instructional materials design. Students must pass a comprehensive exam to graduate.
Applicants should submit transcripts, GRE scores (or an approved alternative), a goal statement, a resume, and two letters of recommendation. Students may transfer up to six relevant graduate credits into this program. In-state and out-of-state distance learners pay for the same tuition rates, and Virginia K-12 educators qualify for tuition discounts.
George Washington University
|Washington, DC||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 82%||
Offering education courses since 1904, GW currently awards an online master's in educational technology leadership. Students interested in leadership roles in schools, colleges, or other organizations can complete this 36-credit program in two years.
GW requires core courses in research methods, trends and issues in educational technology, educational hardware systems, instructional design, and computer applications. Students select four electives from topics such as education policy, needs assessment, computer interface design, developing multimedia materials, and developing effective training.
GW accepts students into this master's program three times each year and does not require applicants to submit test scores. However, applicants must supply a resume, statement of purpose, two letters of recommendation, and transcripts.
University of Houston-Clear Lake
|Houston, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 54%||
Designed for experienced educational technology professionals, UHCL's online master of science in instructional design and technology prepares individuals already involved in areas of educational technology or curriculum development for leadership roles. Students can complete this degree in two years by taking two courses each term on a year-round basis.
Degree requirements include three core classes in education, three instructional technology core courses, and one elective class. Courses explore areas related to research methods, trends and issues, design, and project management. Students must also complete a master's thesis, research project, or practicum at an approved site. They also have the option to take a comprehensive exam.
This program offers three start dates per year. Applicants must submit transcripts and standardized test scores.
|Malibu, CA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 93%||
Pepperdine's Graduate School of Education and Psychology offers a hybrid master of science in learning design and innovation. Students can graduate from this 32-credit program in 20 months; they complete the majority of their coursework online but spend one weekend on campus in Los Angeles each term.
Designed for individuals who want to implement instructional design tools in schools or other organizations, Pepperdine's program employs synchronous and asynchronous learning formats. Required courses explore topics like virtual learning, ethics, emerging technologies, applied analytics, and leadership. Students must also complete a culminating capstone experience.
Applicants must submit transcripts, two professional recommendations, and a 1-2-page goal statement. They may also submit a resume. Applicants hoping to receive an exemption on test score or GPA requirements (i.e., a minimum 3.0 GPA) can submit an exception request.
What Else Can I Expect From an Educational Technology Online Master's Program?
While specific requirements and coursework will vary between programs and schools, these educational technology online master's programs prepare teachers and K-16 technology facilitators and resource personnel to integrate technology into an educational environment. The program can also be used for implementing technology into training programs in the private sector. The following is a general overview of what you can expect from most online master's in instructional technology programs.
CONCENTRATIONS OFFERED FOR AN ONLINE EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY DEGREE
|Concentration||Description||Careers This Concentration Prepares For|
|Distance Learning||Concentrations in distance education focus on applying distance learning theories to the design, delivery, and management of distance education programs. Related coursework involves the investigation of theoretical concepts of online learning.||Distance education coordinator, eLearning specialist director, or manager|
|Curriculum, Technology & Educational Reform (Technology Specialist Track)||This concentration equips educators with a better understanding of technology and how to apply it in their workplace or classroom. Topics include the implications of emerging technologies on teaching and learning.||Technology specialist|
|K-12||Programs concentrating on K-12 environments focus on enabling graduates to integrate current and emerging technologies into curricula, instruction, and assessment. Graduates are trained to utilize school-based data and empirical research to assess the effectiveness of individual technologies in the classroom, as well as develop lessons that align with Common Core standards.||Technology resource personnel, technology facilitators, and training specialists and instructional designers in education|
|Multimedia||This concentration has students explore and apply multimedia learning theories to the design and development of learning solutions that integrate multimedia software applications.||Multimedia designer,
CURRICULUM FOR AN ONLINE MASTER'S DEGREE IN EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY
The following is a sample curriculum featuring many common courses in educational technology online master's degree programs.
- Introduction to Instructional Technology: This course presents an overview of the International Society for Technology in Education and the National Educational Technology Standards for Teachers. Students will explore methods of incorporating instructional technology as a teaching and learning tool in school and non-school settings. The course also provides an opportunity for students to get hands-on experience utilizing software and technology as teaching tools.
- Mobile Technologies in Education: Students explore how mobile technologies, including wearables, tablets, and augmented reality applications, are used to teach in classroom settings and other informal environments. Learners analyze case studies and identify common strategies for integrating mobile technologies and how these are adapted based on economic, educational, and socio-political contexts.
- Distance Teaching & Learning: The coursework examines theory and practice of various forms of synchronous and asynchronous distance education models. Students interpret and apply theory, research, and standards-based effective practice to distance learning design, development, and evaluation. Topics include applying design and learning standards in a range of development and delivery tools.
- Instructional Design: This course focuses on applying instructional design principles to the development of instruction. Topics include foundations in learning research, learning situations and instructional models, innovations in software and hardware, and contemporary trends and issues in instructional design.
- Philosophies of Education: In this course, students examine the educational issues confronting society and philosophical problems. The purpose of this course is to provide a foundation for understanding concerns regarding modern society and education.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET AN ONLINE MASTER'S IN EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY?
Online educational technology degrees usually require students to earn 30 to 39 credit hours. Most master's degrees can be completed in two years. Some considerations that affect the length of an online master's in instructional technology program include the availability of summer term courses, whether programs require the completion of a thesis in order to graduate, and whether the student is pursuing a dual degree program. Another important factor is whether the program is cohort-based, which requires students to move through courses in a particular sequence with a group of their peers. Cohort-based programs tend to have a more rigid timeframe for completion. Students who prefer to set their own pace should select individually paced programs rather than cohort-based programs.
CERTIFICATIONS AND LICENSES A MASTER'S IN EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY PREPARES FOR
- Certified Education Technology Leader: Demonstrates the mastery of knowledge and skills necessary to successfully build and implement modern K-12 learning environments. This certification prepares professionals for careers as chief technology officers, technology directors, chief information officers, and directors of digital learning.
Accreditation for Online Master's in Educational Technology Degrees
Online master's degrees in instructional design and technology can hold specialized accreditation through the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). The goal of the CAEP is to advance the preparation of educators through evidence-based accreditation, assuring quality and continuous improvement to strengthen student learning.
Online educational technology degrees can obtain accreditation through national and regional accreditation bodies, which ensures that institutions of higher education meet acceptable levels of quality. There are a total of 19 recognized accrediting bodies in the U.S., which are reviewed for quality by the U.S. Department of Education and/or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, an association of 3,000 degree-granting institutions. A list of all accredited schools can be obtained through the DOE or CHEA websites.
Employment Outlook for Master's in Educational Technology Graduates
Many careers in education are attainable with a bachelor's degree, but most positions related to classroom teaching, school administration, and curriculum development heavily favor candidates who have earned a master's degree. As a result, unemployment rates are much lower for master's recipients working in education. The table below features data published in 'From Hard Times to Better Times', a 2015 report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW). As the table indicates, unemployment rates are better for education master's degree-holders across the board; please note that the master's degree fields listed below include those with specializations in fields like educational technology. For comparison, the unemployment rate for all occupations in the U.S. currently sits at 4.3%.
|Master's Degree Field||Unemployment Rate for Bachelor's Degree-holders||Unemployment Rate for Master's Degree-holders|
|Miscellaneous Education (Includes 'Instructional Development')||3.6%||2.3%|
|Language and Drama Education||4.2%||2.3%|
|Physical and Health Education Training||3.5%||2.6%|
MASTER'S IN EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY SALARY
Salaries in educational technology will depend largely on the employee's experience level, as well as other factors like degree attainment level, certification status, school size, and city/state of employment. The following table features career salary projections for five of the most popular careers linked to educational technology.
|Occupation||Median Entry-Level Salary (0-5 Years)||Median Mid-Career Salary (5-10 Years)||Median Experienced Salary (10-20 Years)||Median Late-Career Salary (20+ Years)|
|Instructional Technology Specialist||$47,426||$59,616||$57,394||$65,459|
|Director of Instructional Technology||$60,000||$71,000||$77,000||$74,000|
MASTER'S IN EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY CAREERS
A master's in educational technology will be suitable for any aspiring teacher, school administrator, or instructional developer with an interest in bringing technology to the classroom. Five popular career paths for online educational technology degree recipients are described below, along with their median salaries and projected job growth over the next seven years.
- Instructional Coordinators: Instructional coordinators are responsible for developing and implementing curricula and learning standards at elementary, secondary, and postsecondary schools. They must be familiar with various forms of educational technology, and may also have a hand in designing new tools and platforms. They also analyze test scores and evaluate students to ensure their implementations are effective.
- Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers: Technology plays an important role in K-3 education as students acquire foundational knowledge and skills in core study areas; most classrooms feature computers equipped with games and programs designed to help students build these areas, and many teachers have introduced tablets into their lesson plans as well. Kindergarten and elementary teachers must also craft lesson plans that incorporate learning technologies, and demonstrate how to use them for their young students.
- High School Teachers: In recent years, educational technology has become fundamental at the high school level. Students are required to complete assignments and projects using web-based sources, and most schools include tech-based courses as part of the standard curricula. High school teachers are responsible for helping students utilize technology in order to excel in their classes, as well as enabling them to use these tools and platforms as they advance to college or enter the workforce after earning a diploma.
- Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals: Principals oversee all day-to-day activities at public and private school across the country, including curriculum development and the implementation of educational technology. They also work with other administrators to evaluate overall student performance based on several factors, including access to reliable learning technology. They are also responsible for ensuring that their teachers are integrating technology in an effective, impactful way.
- Special Education Teachers: Today's educational technology offerings include various programs aimed at students with emotional, behavioral, physical and/or cognitive disabilities. Special education teachers lean on these tools and platforms as part of their daily classroom routine. They may also work with parents or guardians of students to help them integrate these helpful technologies into their home life.
|Position||Median Annual Salary||Projected Growth Rate|
|Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers||$55,490||6%|
|High School Teachers||$58,030||6%|
|Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals||$92,510||6%|
|Special Education Teachers||$57,910||6%|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Many master's in educational technology online program graduates benefit from obtaining membership with a professional organization grounded in their field. These organizations grant access to academic journals and publications, invite members to attend conferences and networking seminars, offer reduced rates for certifications and professional development courses, share job leads, and provide advocacy on behalf of the entire profession. Three leading organizations in the field of educational technology are outlined below.
- International Society for Technology in Education: For more than 40 years, ISTE has bridged the gap between educators and computing technology. The society has produced comprehensive learning standards for students, teachers, administrators, coaches, and dedicated computer science teachers. ISTE also holds an annual conference, and offers a wide range of online courses and webinars.
- State Educational Technology Directors Association: SETDA is a nonprofit organization launched by state education agency leaders in 2001 that has spread to every state and territory in the U.S. The association provides resources focused on five core areas: equity of access, digital content, online assessment, interoperability, and digital learning. SETDA also strives to provide advocacy for various educational technology policies and implements, and also offers professional development opportunities for members.
- Association for Educational Communications and Technology: Founded in 1923 as the National Education Association's Department of Visual Instruction, AECT today boasts 24 state and six international affiliates. Member benefits include invitations to conferences and professional networking events, access to an extensive selection of online publications, scholarships, internships, and reduced insurance rates. Standard membership is available for $135 per year, while students can join for $75 per year.
Financing Your Online Master's in Educational Technology Program
An online master's degree in educational technology is a significant financial investment, and as a result many students must rely on financial aid to afford the various costs associated with these programs, including tuition and course supplies, housing, meals, and administrative fees. A large number of undergraduates and graduate students receive support through federal student loans, which ― unlike private loans ― carry a fixed interest rate. You can learn more about federal loan opportunities by submitting a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). In addition, a wide range of scholarships, grants, fellowships, and work-study programs are available for students earning a master's degree in educational technology online. For more information about financial aid options, please visit the links below.
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