Wednesday, May 1, 2013

What Does it Take to Get Into Instructional Technology?

I got an interesting question from a teacher this morning, basically, the question is:

What does it take to get a job in Instructional Technology? Do you think I should do that?

Here is my answer. What is yours? Please reply in the comments.

There seem to be quite a few jobs emerging in Instructional Technology/Innovation. The issue I see most often is that people get a degree, but they don't keep up with it. If someone got a Master's Degree in Literature 17 years ago, that degree still means the same thing, but if you got one 5 years ago in Educational/Instructional Technology and never did anything with it, it is virtually meaningless. Even 5 years ago, you probably made hyperlinked Powerpoint presentation games. Nobody is doing that now . . . it's old school. Now we know it's not really about what the teacher is doing; it's about what the students are doing that matters, and playing a game the teacher made is NOT technology integration.

As a person who has hired three Instructional Technology Specialists in my career, not a lot, but enough to make me think, I am extra cautious of employees who have a degree (even a new one) in this field. Do they really understand technology integration or do they just want to "make things" themselves? Do they know how to keep their skills current for years to come? Do they have a passion or did they get the degree in order to get "out of the classroom"?

Meanwhile, my analysis of "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" still works. I could literally turn it in TODAY and get the same grade. So there.

You have to have a passion for instructional technology and keep doing it ALL the time, you have to keep learning and growing your skills ALL the time, you have to develop a philosophy that is makes it truly a part of everything you do and even a part of who you are. The degree might get you in the door, but what will get you hired and keep you is a passion for education and technology integration. You also usually have to be good at providing staff development and communicating in a great variety of ways. I don't think most universities are doing a very good job of teaching the skills and habits actually needed to succeed, but then maybe it's more about the kind of person you are.

I hope that helps. Please let me know your thoughts.

P.S. I have a Master's Degree in Literature; I got it in 1996. No kidding.

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