What is an Ed.D. in Educational Technology?
The Ed.D. in Educational Technology blends subjects that you don’t often see in the same major, as it includes both advanced study of educational theory and advanced study of information technology. The curriculum reflects this broad, challenging range of topics. The blend of applied and social sciences that characterizes educational technology appeals to a unique skill set, one that most people haven’t developed. For this reason, competent specialists in educational technology tend to stand out.
Types of Doctorate in Educational Technology Programs
Educational technology, sometimes called instructional technology, primarily interacts with two other majors: curriculum and instruction, and educational leadership.
Curriculum and Instruction
There’s no separating educational technology from curriculum and instruction, because educational technology is essentially about using new tools to aid curriculum and instruction. For this reason, educational technology often appears as a subspecialty within Ed.D. programs in curriculum and instruction. You see this, for example, in the educational technology track within Boise State’s online Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction, in the educational learning technologies track within New Mexico State University’s Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction, and in the online educational technology track within the University of South Carolina’s Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction.
Educational leadership may initially seem like a strange fit as a double-major for educational technology, but it works for two reasons. The first is that many educational technology positions oversee use of technology on a district or large-scale organizational level, and function in a heavily administrative way. The second is that it allows degree-seekers to hedge their bets, working in other educational administrator roles when educational technology positions aren’t available. Examples of the educational technology/leadership double major include Morehead State’s Ed.D. in Educational Technology Leadership, the educational technology track within Concordia University’s online Ed.D. in Leadership, and the instructional design and technology track within the University of Memphis’ online Ed.D. in Instruction and Curriculum Leadership.
Educational Technology and Educational Psychology
The recent increase in programs covering both educational psychology and educational technology can be attributed to the emerging interdisciplinary field of human-computer interaction (HCI), which studies technology with an eye for cognitive science and theories of learning. Examples of programs in this field include the Chicago School of Professional Psychology’s online Ed.D. in Educational Psychology and Technology, though the more common presentation of these fields is to cover them both within the standard curriculum of an Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction.
How About an Ed.D. in Distance Learning?
Educational technology is central to online and distance education, so it’s no surprise that this field often appears as a specialty or co-major in educational technology programs. Examples include Nova Southeastern University’s low-residency Ed.D. in Instructional Technology and Distance Education and the distance education tracks within the University of West Florida’s Ed.D. in Instructional Design and Technology and Towson University’s Ed.D. in Instructional Technology.
Whether it’s designated as such or not, any Ed.D. program focusing on online and distance education is effectively a specialized program in educational technology.
Earning an Ed.D. in Educational Technology
Educational Technology Prerequisites
Ed.D. programs usually require an M.Ed., M.A. in education, or comparable master’s degree. A master’s degree in computer science, information technology, or a closely related field is not generally sufficient for admission into an Ed.D. in Educational Technology, as an extensive background in education is assumed. Holding an educational specialist degree (Ed.S.) does typically grant advanced placement.
Some programs may also require a minimum GPA, a GRE exam, and an admissions essay.
Educational Technology Coursework
An Ed.D. in Educational Technology typically blends coursework dealing with specific kinds of educational technology with more theory-driven coursework in educational administration, curriculum and instruction, assessment and supervision, and research methods. It is increasingly rare to find programs in educational technology that do not deal in a substantive way with online learning technologies, including streaming video. Human-computer interaction (HCI) has also become an increasingly central focus in educational technology programs.
Educational Technology Internships and Field Work
Ed.D. programs in educational technology often require at least a small amount of field work, but this usually takes the form of individual work on a capstone project. Furthermore, the student and faculty advisors are generally given a great deal of latitude with respect to the format and requirements of the field work or internship.
Towson University’s Ed.D. in Instructional Technology is fairly typical in this respect. Students are required to complete an internship under the supervision of a faculty mentor, and this internship can be used in the service of a project that can appear in the student’s capstone portfolio (a permissible substitute for a dissertation), but the faculty mentor and student are given near-unlimited latitude with respect to the details of the internship.
Educational Technology Dissertations
Perhaps because of the program’s practical bent, the Ed.D. in Educational Technology is less likely to require a dissertation, and more likely to accept a capstone project as an alternative, than most other Ed.D. majors. This is not to say that a dissertation is never required, but programs that do not require a dissertation are relatively easy to find.
Online Ed.D. in Educational Technology Programs
Are Ed.D. in Educational Technology Programs Offered Online?
Yes. Perhaps in part because of the major’s own focus on online and distance learning technology, numerous online and low-residency Ed.D. programs in this specialty are available. Among the most prestigious are Duquesne University’s Ed.D. in Instructional Technology and the University of Florida’s Ed.D. in Educational Technology.
Online Ed.D. in Educational Technology Residency Requirements
Most require a small amount, usually a week or two per summer, but this requirement is sometimes negotiable. Some, such as Boise State’s online Ed.D. in Educational Technology, openly and officially require no residency at all, and can be completed entirely online.
When residency is required, the format of Duquesne University’s low-residency Ed.D. in Instructional Technology and Leadership is fairly typical: two weeks on campus over the Summer at the beginning of the first year, an additional week over the next Summer, and no further on-campus requirements. During the residency, students are expected to socialize and network with a group of classmates, called a cohort, who are completing the program online on the same timetable.
Educational Technology Careers
Ed.D. in Educational Technology Jobs
People who specialize in the field of educational technology typically work as educational technology specialists, course designers, computer lab directors, multimedia specialists, online course directors, and web service directors. It’s also fairly common for them to hold more general positions in curriculum design.
It’s a testament to the groundbreaking, fast-growing nature of educational technology as a field that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has no job category that neatly fits people who work in the above capacities. They are classified by the BLS as either instructional coordinators whose work happens to center on technology, or as computer support specialists who happen to work in schools. Both job categories are growing quickly (with 11% growth projected over the 2016-2026 period), no doubt in large part because of the growth of educational technology as a specialty.
Ed.D. in Educational Technology Salary
Indeed.com lists average annual salaries for computer specialists ($54,918), education specialists ($52,573), and instructional designers ($63,267) that are in the same salary range as Glassdoor.com’s average listed salary for educational technologists ($55,585), as well as the BLS estimates for instructional coordinators ($63,750) and computer support specialists ($52,810). It also lists a few lucrative six-figure educational technology gigs, but their relatively small number and exceptional pay suggest that they’re competitive.
The emerging narrative is that educational technology specialists are beginning to break out of more traditional curriculum- and support-centered roles, but only in small numbers, and mostly at the top tier.
Is an Ed.D. in Educational Technology Worth it?
Strictly speaking, you don’t need an Ed.D. in Educational Technology to work within this field; a master’s degree will do. But it’s a new, fast-growing, competitive career track, and people who plan to specialize in it will need to find ways to stand out. A terminal degree tends to do that.
There are a few caveats that are worth bearing in mind, if you’re looking to go this route. You may need to make your own path. You may need to dedicate a large chunk of your regular work schedule to issues that are not directly pertinent to educational technology, such as technical support or broader curriculum design issues. And despite the growing number of jobs in this field, you may find that you have to compete fiercely for the kinds of specialized, top-tier positions that allow you to focus on your passions.
But if broader curriculum issues and technical support services do interest you, there’s really no downside to an Ed.D. in Educational Technology. It seems unlikely that any well-rounded educational specialist has ever been criticized for knowing too much about educational technology, and the broad, interdisciplinary character of the degree means that it’s likely to serve you well even if much of the work you end up doing is not directly related to educational technology.
Educational Technology Resources and Organizations
- The Consortium for School Networking (COSN): COSN is the most prominent professional development organization for educational technology specialists in the United States, offering online courses, webinars, and a certification program for leaders in the field.
- EDUCAUSE: EDUCAUSE is to educational technology educators’ networking and advocacy efforts what COSN is to professional development, sponsoring a job board, extensive research opportunities, and regular conferences. There are also substantive volunteer opportunities.
- International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education: If you’re interested in how colleges and universities use educational technology to advance their goals, this journal will keep you up to date.
- International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE): ISTE is the leading international organization bringing together experts in educational technology from all over the world.
- State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA):The SETDA brings together leaders in educational technology from throughout the United States, but also offers extensive policy and collaboration resources for the vast majority of us who aren’t state educational technology directors.