Careers in Educational Technology
The following are brief descriptions of people working in various jobs in the field of Educational Technology.
K12 School Technology Director
Name: Grant Williams
Title: Technology Director
Employer: Frontier Public Schools
E-mail Address: williamsg at frontierok.com
Typical day: Troubleshoot problems with: student projects, teacher web pages and Moodle sites, student login/enrollment for software programs, teacher reporting/assessment in the software programs, and gradebook issues. Also on a daily basis I assist teachers with new ideas they come up with for their classrooms along with trying to encourage them to try different teaching strategies. It is my goal to unleash the creativity of students by providing the students and the teacher with technology to do so.
Favorite part of job: I love to teach students and teachers how to do things with technology. My reward is when they take what I have shown them and come back with what they have created.
Least favorite: Trying to keep up with the speed at which technology evolves. Sometimes I feel too
much of my time is spent learning new things as opposed to putting to use what I know.
Advice: Communicate with the peers in your field and try to keep an open mind for new ideas or ones that you missed.
How do you keep current in the field? Communicate with peers and attend selected conferences.
University Instructional Support
Name: Tawnya Means
Title: Director, Instructional Support
Employer: Warrington College of Business Administration, University
E-mail Address: tawnya dot means at cba dot ufl dot edu
Typical day: The best thing about my job is that there is very infrequently a "typical day" in my position. I have such a wide variety of experiences in this position. I am involved in a number of university committees and working groups (Course Management System advisory committee, Course Management System research group, E-Learning support group, Instructional Design at UF group, Distance Learning Committee, Virtual Worlds Working Group, Technology Innovations Advisory Committee, Information Resources committee); I work with faculty on a one-on-one basis to redesign their distance learning courses; keep faculty up-to-date on current instructional design ideas and concepts; manage a video production group and a instructional support group; work with the Deans in the college on accreditation, assessment plans, and creating/managing policies for quality in online courses; explore new technologies; assist in the planning of the AV requirements for the new building we are constructing; manage classroom technology for the on campus courses in the college; and assist in the planning and development of new programs.
Favorite part of job: Meeting with faculty and discussing ideas for innovative ways of teaching using technology
Least favorite: Managing my inbox
Advice: Get as much experience in as many areas as possible. Don't pigeon hole yourself into a niche. Some of the most interesting work that I do is not what I expected I would do.
How do you keep current in the field? Attending conferences, workshops (online and physically), participating in working groups and committees across the university, meeting with and sharing ideas with other instructional designers at the University of Florida and from other universities.
Name: Bruce Spitzer
Title: Department Head, Secondary Education and Foundations of Education Assistant Professor, Instructional Technology
Employer: Indiana University South Bend, School of Education
E-mail Address: baspitze at iusb dot edu
Website: http://www.spitzertech.com and http://mypage.iusb.edu/~baspitze
Typical day: Wow . . . I can honestly say there is no such thing as a typical day for me. But, I can probably describe my work by describing what I do related to teaching, service, and scholarship. Because I'm a department head, I have a two-course release for administrative work. That means I teach only one course each term. That class meets weekly on Monday mid-day, so I devote Mondays to teaching that class. It's one I've taught several semesters in a row, so prep time is minimal, but grading still has to be done.
Service takes the bulk of my time. As department head, I am charged with managing 11 other faculty. This involves scheduling, budgeting, and evaluation. Our schedules are created over a two-month period approximately 10 months prior to the term in question. So, here in the Fall 2008 term I am beginning work on the Fall 2009 schedule and finalizing the Summer 2009 schedule. Plus, I am responsible for hiring associate faculty for Spring 2009; those calls and emails happen daily. Budget is an ongoing challenge. I have purchasing power, so faculty in my department contact me with needs and I arrange the purchase. Much of it I can do on my own electronically via our university electronic procurement system, but some larger item purchases require bids and I simply hand that off to the university's purchasing department. Evaluation of faculty happens twice yearly. All employees of the university submit an annual report on a calendar year basis early after January 1. I write an evaluation of the faculty in my department, and that evaluation is due to the Dean's office by mid-February. Then, promotion, tenure, and reappointment documents are created in October/November of each year. These documents are written only for full-time lecturers and tenure-eligible faculty. Finally, in the category of service, I serve as the secretary for the faculty Academic Senate. That involves a minimum of two meetings monthly for which I take minutes and maintain a library of paper and electronic documents.
Very closely related to this clearly defined service is the service I provide in the form of dealing with student issues and concerns. Whenever a student has an issue with a faculty member, a School of Education policy, or anything else they feel they need to bring to an administrator, I'm the person they seek. In many cases of policy, I have the power to resolve the issue (either by granting an exception or sticking by the policy . . . ). In the case of an issue with faculty, I'll try to mediate some resolution that maintains the academic freedom afforded the faculty member, but meets the needs of the student as well.
Meetings happen a lot: I have some regularly scheduled meetings such as Senate, department meetings, and SoE Administrative Council. Other meetings happen as needed. I'm always glad for a day without meetings!
Scholarship is probably the one area I find challenging to make time for. I have some ongoing research projects underway. These are anywhere in a process from data collection to making final revisions following an editorial panel review. When I became a department head, this part of my duties took a back seat.
Finally, it feels as if every other free minute is taken up with responding to students, faculty, and staff emails. Email is the official means of communication in the university, so even the simplest questions are posed via email so as to create an e-paper trail of the communication.
Favorite part of job: I get to help students with issues resolutions. I can determine whether a student takes a course out of sequence and graduates on time or whether the student is delayed in his or her program by up to a year. Students prepare a written case presenting why they believe they should be given the exception. There must be extenuating circumstances, and if there are, I'm usually pretty sympathetic. But if a student simply "forgot" to take a pre-requisite course, I'm not.
Least favorite: Sometimes, faculty meetings can get dicey. Those in the professoriate cling to their academic freedom and often refuse to entertain the idea of change. This causes obstacles to program development and curriculum reform.
Oh, yeah, . . . NCATE. That, too, is one of my least favorite things about what I do.
Advice: Time management. Figure out when, where, and how you do your best work and then use that knowledge. I know I work best early, early in the morning. So, I find myself getting up at 4:30 AM and responding to emails. When I need to write extensively, I take my laptop and go to the library. I also find myself coming to the office for several hours on Sunday afternoons. The building is silent and I can get a concentrated effort on a project. Once you learn these things about yourself, you can use them.
How do you keep current in the field? In a most unconventional way . . . I have two close friends here who are geeks extraordinare. They both send me links to new toys, great articles, and other resources. When I've not heard from them for a while, I drop them an email and ask, "Hey, what new stuff are you working on?" That usually does the trick.
I do subscribe to journals and magazines, and I try to read them when I can. The professional organizations are a good place to look as well. Annual conferences are good for networking and for seeing what's new and upcoming. But you have to be selective; there are many, many conferences and you'll want to pick one that meets specific needs you might have.
Name: Lynn Korvick
Title: Assistant Professor
Employer: Oklahoma City University
E-mail Address: lynn dot korvick at okstate dot edu
Typical day: I am a full time faculty member at OCU. I integrate technology into each class presentation. I am a huge proponent of audience response technology, a.k.a. clickers, for dynamic classroom assessment. I am the go-to "technology person" among the nursing faculty.
Favorite part of job: I love figuring out how I can present my classroom content in a meaningful way while engaging students in the learning process. Class presentations are never the same throughout the semester.
Least favorite: Attending required meetings that have no relevance to my position.
Advice: Be patient with yourself and allow yourself to learn the teaching process. It takes time to develop your teaching style and to feel comfortable in what you do. It is likiely that poor classroom evaluations will come in the early years of teaching. Take the input and make yourself a better professor with the comments. Don't take it personally;grow with the feedback.
How do you keep current in the field? I attend teaching conferences annually and I read journal articles that offer new pedagogical techniques. I am actively engaged in educational research.
Director of Technology and Education Outreach
Name: Wesley Fryer
Title: Director of Technology and Education Outreach
Employer: Oklahoma Heritage Association and Gaylord-Pickens Museum
E-mail Address: wesfryer at pobox dot com
Typical day: Meet online or via videoconference to discuss statewide digital storytelling project logistics (Celebrate Oklahoma Voices), Oversee communication with teachers scheduling field trips to our museum for digital curriculum / digital storytelling follow-up activities, work on museum audio and video curriculum DVD and/or podcast media materials, plan professional development workshops for Oklahoma teachers focused on digital storytelling, safe online collaboration, teaching inquiry with primary sources, etc. Facilitate videoconferences with Oklahoma students and teachers about history and heritage projects.
Favorite part of job: I love empowering other learners to safely collaborate and share their voices online as digital witnesses.
Least favorite: Email.
Advice: Develop your personal learning community with both electronic/digital connections as well as face-to-face connections. Your PLC is the key to success in the 21st century information landscape. Using tools like Google Reader to aggregate web feeds, social bookmarking tools, live blogging tools like Twitter, and both wikis and blogs to document as well as share learning points is essential to document as well as share learning.
How do you keep current in the field? I connect with and build connections with my PLC as described above using the tools described above. I post daily to my blog as well as social bookmarks (http://delicious.com/wfryer), and read my Google Reader news feeds from other blogs daily on my laptop as well as iPhone. I attend and present at educational technology conferences regularly, and participate in virtual conferences via Elluminate, Ning social networks, and the free K-12 Online Conference (http://www.k12onlineconference.org).
School Library Media Specialist
Name: Beth Hawkins
Employer: Perkins-Tryon Public Schools
Title: Library Media Specialist, Perkins-Tryon High School
Email: bahawkins at p-t dot k12 dot ok dot us
There is no typical day. Even though each day is different, they all start early when I set up the lab for distance learning where our students obtain college credit concurrently. Almost every day, I partner with teachers to plan collaborative lessons and facilitate the research process. I present information and activities which stress the importance of finding valid sources of information as well as instructing students on how to use MLA style, computer applications as well as web 2.0 tools such as wikis and blogs. I teach them how to use video and photos as tools of communicating what they have learned. The students make very exciting videos in many subjects such as English and Science. I teach them editing programs as well as technical and aesthetic principles of video. Every day I find opportunities to encourage an appreciation of literature through discussion and through displays which promote various genres or events. Every day I get feedback from both teachers and students for selection and purchase of books. When I purchase books, I keep those suggestions as well as current events and poignant new subjects in mind. Every day, I hope to develop students’ hunger for information, culture, and literature. My student assistants and I circulate books checking them in and out. My days include a variety of requests for technical support for teachers when they need assistance with computer hardware and software.
Favorite part of job
Working with teenagers there is never a dull moment. Something is new every day. I love teaching them how to find information, helping them to develop a love for seeking new information. If they are information seekers they will become lifelong learners.
Cataloging and inventorying books
Love your job and have a positive outlook. Know that everything you say impacts students. Always be a positive and encouraging role model in their lives.
How do you keep current?
Read journals, attend state and national conferences, network with other media specialists, continue learning and absorbing new information.