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Thursday, March 24, 2005

The Demand for Educational Technologists

My professor wrote the following quote in response to a colleagues vision statement, and below is my reply...

I am glad you have included BOTH instructional and technical follow-up on support. Usually you will find in workshops that one takes precendence over the other because the trainer is used to wearing only one hat (either a techhie or not).

I am noticing an increasing demand for people who wear both hats at once, education and technology, which I suppose is good news for people studying for an educational technology degree.

For instance, this week a woman who heads a federally funded professional development program for teachers of English Language Learners came to my department looking for someone with the skills to overhaul her program's website (to implement a content management system even), and yet also be able to understand her when she spoke (in our specialists' jargon) about the educational issues involved. She was unhappy with the help she was receiving from the IT department because she wasn't able to speak to them as teachers, and of course the educators in her program were useless as web programers, so she turned to educational technology. This need is not limited to specific programs. Small school districts in this county are increasing interested in hiring a single technology director who can fulfill both roles rather than hiring separate IT and Ed Tech directors.

Unfortunately, I fear these people are even harder to find than people with Ed Tech degrees, particularly masters degrees. Most of the teachers I know with Ed Tech masters degrees have skills not unlike what I would consider a technically savvy teacher, and not at all like what I would expect of an IT technician.

Clearly not everyone needs to be a technician, but there is such a critical need in education for someone to bridge the gap between classroom teachers and server room technicians that I wish there were more emphasis on underlying technical principals in educational technology programs. Unfortunately, most educational technology coordinators are also called upon to be be part administrator, part staff developer, and part clerk as well, so the time and effort available for acquiring and applying truly technical knowledge is limited.

-Mark

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