I wrote a recent blog post that I'm looking for feedback on. I'm wondering what you think is the real job of an Educational Technologist? Should an edtech specialist teach their teachers how to be better educators or better technologists? I'm in an edtech Master's program and really frustrated that a course about the Internet is more about coding html and CSS then about using the real power of the Internet. Looking for your views on dealing with edtech specialists in your school or district. Do they teach you how to write code, use creative tools on the Internet, or just help you fix computer problems?

If you want to read the full Classroom 2.0 blog post, click here.

Tags: edtech, web2.0

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I agree with your statement however I think the problem is people's definition of the term mentioned in the original post. I still stand by that a person considered to be an educational technologist needs their hands in all the pots. However a technology coach would be some one who helps teachers with the basics, accessing their e-mail, setting up google reader and such.
Stu--well put. We're required to know some techie stuff, so while we're in the trenches and something breaks, we can start troubleshooting until our heroes (translation: engineers) arrive on the scene. However, the mantra is that instruction will always come first because that is why we're here in the first place. I remember one lesson we were having grinded to a halt because something didn't work right. I was able to troubleshoot and get the lesson back on gear. The engineer was out of the building and wouldn't have been able to help us.
Hi Cory,

I think one of the biggest issues that tends to happen more in education with regards to naming positions is that there is little standardization of what job titles imply. Part of that is due to necessity and part of that is the way technology has been adopted into the school environment. In the corporate world, the name "database administrator" means a certain skillset and job responsibility. Same goes for "network administrator", "CIO", etc. There is standardization in naming.

In education, it's quite a bit different. As schools have adopted technology, the talent pool available is quite varied and schools (many who had little knowledge of what they were looking for) had to come up with a title that best tried to describe what they thought they wanted. Rather than specialize on one particular area, most people in EdTech have to know about a lot of different things. In my experience, only in very large districts does one have the specailized role like "database administrator". In EdTech, we wear many different hats. In fact, at a recent conference I attended, it was really funny to read all the various job titles on the nametags of people present...and as you talked to them, the job title reflected only a portion of what they did on a daily basis.

My official title is "Director of Technology"....pretty heavy sounding, isn't it? What do I do? I make sure the computers work, the network and servers function, I teach classes to students, I work with teachers on integrating tech into their classroom, I provide a vision for technology for the school.....I'm also the head ice hockey coach and conduct the orchestra for the school musicals. I don't think that's entirely uncommon for most of us. We do what needs to be done with what we are passionate about. I choose to work in education with my skillset, even though it doesn't pay as well as corporate, because I like the variety of what I do.

In the end, I'd say try to enoy the skills that you are learning in the class. If nothing else, they will provide you with a certain amount of problem solving skills and a mental hueristic database to do other things. As we all here know, what you're probably learning in your class right now, will change tenfold by the time you're done. Look at your program as a whole...do you feel that all the classes collectively are preparing you for the challenges you will face in the school? If your real passion is "educator" then after you are done, you will probably naturally drift to those jobs. If you like the "technologist" side..you will probably drift to those activities. If you choose education, you will probably do a little bit of both no matter where you go.

I guess I've said enough (too much?). I'll shut up now :)
Im a teacher at an online school and very active in helping teachers with their computer problems as well as modeling the use of emerging technologies. I joined the Master's Program in case I wanted to go into a job that helped educators use the effective and engaging tools that are now available for teachers and students. My main goal is to help kids. As an edtech specialist the route to do that would be through educating the teachers on whats available. Of course I would need to know html and css for my own use, for troubleshooting, and for answering basic problems that teachers might have about that, but as a tool for educating students I can't really see the upside. At least not the upside of spending 15 weeks learning those languages. Maybe half the course learning those and half the course learning emerging technologies? I've been helping teachers with edtech problems for 4 years, the only html question they have ever asked me is about embedding Youtube into their online courses.

While I agree with you that standardized naming would help this conversation, its not completely essential. There are tech people at my school who are like IT guys in the corporate world, then there are the tech people who help teachers with developing curriculum and course design. I would certainly not be interested in job that entails the IT side of things because that doesn't help teachers become better educators for their students. It does help keep the school running which is important, but not my interest. Thanks for differentiating.
You have made really good points throughout this discussion and I apologize for not addressing them sooner. I think there are some distinctions to clarify. When we are talking about teaching a class, of course you have to know the content. However, I'm talking about teaching educators. Would an edtech specialist ever go into a school and teach the average secondary ed teacher how to use Java? Or work on servers? Or set up networks? I think that is a different job all together and doesn't usually involve teaching.

I think that one of the fundamental points I have been thinking about might not have come out clearly. The system has to change and that change has to focus on making classes more relevant to students. One of the best ways to do that is to move the classrooms into this century. Fill them with tools that students find interesting and applicable to their lives. In order to do that, the teachers have to get training in those tools. That is going to come from the edtech people who train the teachers or the pre-service teacher training programs in college. Until universities start moving away from old practices and begin updating their courses to fit what the world is using, the teachers won't systematically get to benefit from these applications. If the teachers aren't trained properly then they won't be able to share these tools with their students.
I think back to MOST under grad classes...be happy if you think only ONE class seems pointless...
Thank you for this simple point.

Also important is that graduate degrees are not always supposed to be predictable. My courses that surprised me and offered the greatest options for development were those that I gave my energy even though I didn't see the point. College courses are unfortunately rather simple lately and contain more hoops than I would rather count. Personally, I would rather have an advanced program that offered options when I was finished than a class of hoops that I could have predicted from the beginning.
I'm in your shoes here in St. Louis..yeah, I found out I have to take a course about xhtml and dreading it...can we focus on EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY please! I think the graduate programs should be reassessed...I'm sure, back in the day, that class might have been important...I soooo agree!
Yes, and, how does your definition of educational technology reflect the times in which you live?
I'm in library school, and took classes that did both. I found the class that taught about using creative Internet tools more immediately practical, but I'm glad I also learned to code. You can make better sites when you can code it yourself.
We are a small district, but our Tech specialists just help us with computer problems. We get sent out for extra lessons.
The real job of the Educational Technologist is to advise teachers on which tools might be appropriate for the teacher to use to reach a particular educational goal. Toward that end, the Educational Technologist needs to know a LOT of technology in order to be able to advise the teacher. Not just computer technology but all kinds of tech. How to make a good bulletin board, for example.

Educational Technologists need to know a lot of Educational Psychology. Not just child development, but actual learning theories, applications, and how those various theories and models are applied in a variety of settings. Classroom, for one.

Educational Technologists need to know a lot about learning and the neurophysiology of the brain.

Educational Technologists need to keep up with current research. Did you see that study that indicates that boys and girls *process* lessons differently? The research team used CAT scans to examine the activation centers in the brains of boys and girls. Major implications for lesson planning.

Educational Technologists need to know about the financial implications of platform selection. Too often those decisions are left in the hands of people who are being swayed by advertisements and pretty pictures without understanding the wider implications and costs of what it is they're buying.

Educational Technologists need to know about books and other print based tech. How obsolete are the new texts? How can a school protect itself from the costs involved.

Educational Technologists need to know about the law. Title 17 is critical. There's a movement out there that is claiming that education really has a lot more "right" than "copyright" seems to provide. Are they correct? What are the rules of thumb and how can you be sure you're not breaking the law? "Fair Use" is a defense and can only be determined after you're in court. Who's paying the lawyers?

Oh, and yea, they need to know a variety of code, hardware, tools, and applications so they can advise the teachers who rely on them to provide the kinds of specialized knowledge that a *teacher* shouldn't have to worry about because they have Educational Technologists to advise them.
I so agree with that. I recently reviewed a colleague's review on development tools. One product made me laugh; it had styled itself as an e-learning management system. It was clear from a quick reading of their blurb that they were peddling an unremarkable CMS and had written a spiel to try and tie it in with e-learning development. I couldn't shake off the image of the Simpson's Troy McClure delivering this spiel complete with 'air quotes'.

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