You have a passion for education and a fascination with technology. Have you ever considered combining your two interests into one dynamic career path? Educational technology careers are at the intersection of education and technology. Here’s what you need to know about educational technology and its related careers.
What Is Educational Technology?
Educational technology, or EdTech, is a cutting-edge, hybrid subfield of education and technology. It’s also frequently referred to as instructional design or instructional design and technology.
EdTech is often thought of as an emerging field, but it has ancient roots. In fact, one might say that educational technology began with the invention of ancient educational tools such as the abacus. Of course, modern educational technology involves far more screens and far fewer beads on rods.
Educational technology can be defined a few different ways. One professional might define it as a field of study that involves analyzing, developing and implementing the instructional environment, learning process and instructional materials.
Another might say that it’s a way to support learning and improve performance through the application of technological tools and processes. And still another might simply say that it’s the process of transferring traditional learning materials into digital formats. In short, educational technology fuses tech and learning, allowing for more innovative instructional methods, more engaged learners and better collaboration.
Industries Offering Careers in Educational Technology
You’ll find EdTech careers in a wide range of industries. Educational technology professionals often work within K-12 school systems, as well as higher education institutions. They may also find work within the Department of Education, which has an Office of Educational Technology whose mission is to develop national EdTech policies and enhance the accessibility of EdTech for learners of all age ranges.
You’ll also find educational technology careers within the corporate sector. Many corporate trainers can be considered EdTech professionals, as they often rely heavily on technological innovations for their work. Corporate sector EdTech professionals might work for eLearning companies, software development companies and consultancy firms, just to name a few.
You’ll even find EdTech experts working in industries like banking, biotechnology and healthcare. In short, there is a world of possibilities out there for a qualified individual with a passion for education and technology. Take a look at some specific options below.
Education Technology Careers and Options
The careers in educational technology are highly diverse and require varying academic credentials. Before you begin planning to further your education in pursuit of educational technology careers, you should carefully consider exactly which type of career is best suited to you. Some might require a stronger background in education, for example, while others might require hands-on tech skills or polished writing skills.
Instructional coordinators work behind the scenes in school systems to support the work of educators and administrators. They work closely with teachers and administrative professionals to develop, implement and evaluate academic improvement initiatives and professional growth opportunities. In other words, an instructional coordinator may work on learning materials for the school’s students, as well as professional development workshops for the educators.
Increasingly these days, instructional coordinators are focusing on the use of technology within the classroom. They may review new EdTech platforms, devices and tools to determine if they would fill a need within their school or enhance the learning experience and performance of the students. Instructional coordinators can also help the school launch, coordinate and evaluate virtual classes and digitally accessible learning materials.
An instructional coordinator is generally expected to have a strong background in education, such as a master’s degree in education. Some might have a master’s degree in a specific subject area with a concentration in education. In some cases, instructional coordinators are required to hold a teaching license, and many of them work as teachers before becoming instructional coordinators.
Instructional coordinators and other EdTech professionals must stay on top of the latest trends in this ever-evolving subfield. One way they accomplish this is by following the work of EdTech journalists and content writers. If you have strong writing skills, you might want to consider pursuing a career in EdTech journalism.
As an EdTech journalist, you might work for a publication or website dedicated solely to educational technology. Or, you might cover the EdTech section of a broader publication or website. You would be responsible for interviewing experts, checking the facts to ensure accuracy and writing feature stories and breaking news stories.
It’s ideal to have a bachelor’s degree in journalism. You can also benefit from holding a relevant master’s degree, such as a master’s in human factors psychology.
Not all EdTech professionals work in school systems. Continuing education and professional development are crucial for many corporate professionals. It’s the job of the corporate trainer to help employees and executives refresh their skills and acquire new ones.
Corporate trainers can work in practically any industry. They are responsible for evaluating the employees’ training needs, reviewing training materials (including digital materials), developing and implementing training programs and executing corporate workshops, seminars and similar learning initiatives. Corporate trainers often rely on educational technology to help their learners acquire and retain new information, and corporate trainers may also train their learners on the use of emerging technologies.
Distance Education Specialist
A distance education specialist, also known as a distance education coordinator, may work directly for a school system or for a consulting firm that specializes in education clients. They can lend their expertise to K-12 schools or institutes of higher education.
Distance education specialists are responsible for collaborating with educators and academic administrators. They develop, implement and evaluate the school’s virtual learning programs and classes. To facilitate student success, a distance education specialist may do any of the following:
- Review, select and implement a remote learning platform for the school.
- Manage course requests, including creating new course shells for instructors, who can then upload their course materials.
- Train educators and administrators on the proper use of the eLearning platform.
- Develop or recommend eLearning policies and best practices.
- Evaluate remote learning programs, troubleshoot problems and assist users.
Clinical Education Specialist
A clinical education specialist is typically someone with a background as a working healthcare professional, such as a nurse. Healthcare providers with an aptitude for technology and a passion for education may decide to transition to clinical education. They may work for a specific healthcare organization, for a nursing or medical school or for a company that provides clinical education materials.
The specific duties of a clinical education specialist will vary based on their employer. In general, however, they may assess the professional development and continuing education needs of the staff, review and select or create training materials and administer training programs. A clinical education specialist’s goal is to improve patient outcomes by enhancing the knowledge and skills of the medical providers.
Pursue a Graduate Human Factors Psychology Degree From GCU
As you can see, careers in educational technology are incredibly diverse, and all of them require differing academic credentials. In general, educational technology careers require at least a bachelor’s degree, but many also require a master’s degree. Depending on the specific career you’ve chosen, you might consider pursuing a graduate-level human factors psychology degree.
Human factors psychology is the field of study that considers how a person’s environment, equipment and processes can complement that person’s capabilities and performance. It also studies human-computer interactions, and how best to optimize them. For example, a human factors psychology expert might consider how virtual reality could be implemented in the classroom to enable children to take virtual field trips to historical sites, art museums and similar places.
Although there are multiple degree options available to an aspiring EdTech professional, a human factors psychology degree may be a good choice. Depending on the school you choose, you might also be able to earn your degree entirely online.
You can begin working toward a meaningful and rewarding career in educational technology when you apply for enrollment at Grand Canyon University (GCU). In addition to our many undergraduate degree programs in education, technology and related STEM fields, we offer the Master of Science in Psychology with an Emphasis in Human Factors Psychology degree. Graduates will emerge with strong competencies in developing and improving technology products that support and optimize human performance and learning.
Approved by the assistant dean of Behavioral Health for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences on Dec. 29, 2022.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.