(Teachers) Get Educated

How to compare online Masters for edtech careers (5 tips)

GUEST COLUMN | by Vicky Phillips

CREDIT GetEducated.comOnline education for educators is booming. There are now a whooping 420+ accredited online master’s degree programs that cater specifically to educators and teachers. Columbia University Teachers College has offered an online master’s in computing in education for school teachers since 1983. If Columbia is too pricey, more than 50 solid state universities, such as the University of Missouri Online, offer a bevy of low-cost online master’s for educators. Be picky. It’s a buyer’s market. With so much choice you can – and should – compare online degree programs in search of your dream grad degree. I’ve been comparing online degrees for 24 years. Here are my top five tips on how to choose an online master’s that will lay a solid educational foundation for any edtech career.

# 1 Pedagogy vs Andragogy

The education job market is highly specialized. Many online master’s degrees, on the other hand, offer an antiquated one size fits all curriculum. For many edtech jobs a “general” master’s in instructional or educational technology may not be adequate.

Begin winnowing your options by selecting one of two instructional markets: children (pre-K through 12) or adult learners. Once you have a target market, dissect online degree plans until you find “the one” that matches your niche.

Concentrations or majors as spelled out in degree titles – school technology vs. adult training for example– give strong clues up front. For some of the best master’s for K-12 teacher techies check out my hand-picked list of the Top 10 Online Master’s for Teachers http://www.geteducated.com/elearning-education-blog/10-top-online-masters-in-education-technology-for-teachers/

#2  Majors

Ten years ago the term “edtech” referred to jobs in CBT (computer-based-training). Ed techies ran computer learning labs.

Today, ed techies are involved in online teaching, instructional design and curriculum development, virtual reality, gamification, adaptive technology and special education, educational metrics, ed app design, the management of e-learning, technology integration in residential teaching .. and, well you get the picture.

Look for online degrees that boast concentrations that mirror your career interests. Check out the University of Illinois Online http://www.online.uillinois.edu/default.asp for cool career majors like Educational Psychology with an emphasis in Curriculum, Technology, and Education Reform.

#3 Cost

Education: YES.

Education at any cost: NO.

My national survey of 35 online master’s degrees with instructional or ed tech concentrations, revealed a cost range of from $6,450 to over $39,000 for this one major. Average cost rang in at about $15,000.

For the lowest cost online degree without sacrificing educational quality look to large state universities, especially those located in the South or Midwest.

#4 Admission Requirements

Good news for any student who suffers from test anxiety. The majority – 932 out 1000 online master’s programs surveyed by GetEducated.com — do not require standardized tests, such as the GRE, for admission. 

Why no GRE? Online students are significantly older than their residential peers. The average online student is about 46 years old. Many believe that standardized exams like the GRE are not relevant measures of academic preparedness for students who are that far removed from a traditional undergraduate experience.

#5 Long-Term Value — Stackable Credentials

Education careers often require master’s degrees. Salares in this sector often jump significantly based on the completion of a master’s degree or graduate level courses. Many corporate tuition assistance programs pay only for “degree credits” or credentials, such as credit-bearing graduate certificates. As a result, online grad schools offer more than125 education related specialty certificates. Specialties range in emphasis from e-learning design to technology leadership.

Most online graduate schools offer certificates that consist of from 3 to 5 courses. These certificates can be earned quickly, then stacked into a master’s degree plan later. Stackable certificates allows students to acquire a focused career credential – such as a certificate in online teaching – asap. Because certificates award degree credits teachers can take these courses using their tuition benefits. They can also earn a highly marketable specialty certificate as a hot career take-away.

Vicky Phillips is founder of GetEducated.com, a consumer site that publishes data-driven rankings and reviews of the best (and worst) online colleges. In 1989, she designed the first online counseling center for adult distance learners. She was recently cited by U.S. News & World Report as “for 20 years the leading consumer advocate for online college students.” She welcomes questions on online learning on her forum or through Google+

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