Let's Talk About Your EdTech Career

Productivity and the future of our profession.

November 24, 2013

Let’s talk about your edtech career.

What is your current role? How long have you been doing this work? What is your title?

How do you see your career progression? Looking ahead using 5 year intervals, where do you see your career going in 2018, 2023, 2028?

Do these dates seem far away? They shouldn’t. You can’t start planning for 2018 in 2017.  And what happens in 2023 will depend on where you are in 2018.

I love to chat with edtech people about our careers because we share such nonlinear employment biographies. Most of us did something sort of (or totally different) before we found ourselves working in edtech.  

We seem to be more likely to have education rather than technology skeletons in our closet, but not uniformly.  

Over the last few years a change has started to come to edtech in which more of us have honest-to-goodness credentials in our field of practice. Learning designers with Masters degrees in learning design (or some related discipline). These professionals are very good. I’ve certainly learned almost everything I know from them.   

Despite the growth in professionally credentialed educational technologist, I’d wager that the majority of us are still immigrants to the field. Working with the enthusiasm of the converted, refugees from our the home nation’s of our disciplines (I hail from Sociology), we have been fully assimilated into the gospel of technology enabled active learning.

We should let the world in on a secret.

The job of a educational technologist, be it a learning designer (you know how people learn and how to collaborate with faculty to create effective learning environments) or educational technologists (you know some about learning and course design, and also spend time running and improving technology platforms and negotiating with vendors), is the best job on campus.

Let me repeat. The role of a learning designer or educational technologist (or instructional designer or whatever we call ourselves) is the best gig in higher education.

And why shouldn’t this be?  

We get to work at the intersection of two of the most exciting areas of human endeavors:  education (how people learn) and technology (how the world changes).

We get to work with the world’s smartest people. Yes, faculty, I am speaking about you. But also the smart people throughout our institutions. From librarians to programmers. Staff ever every level.

We get to play a role in improving higher education. In evolving how our classes our taught and how our students learn. This role is always collaborative. Always embedded in relationships.   

We should be involved, if we are doing our jobs well, with helping our colleges and universities become more productive. In improving learning while ideally reducing costs and improving access. These are challenging goals, and people in edtech are in the mix in figuring out how we are going to reach them.

Our goal in the edtech profession is to figure out how to bring more resources to teaching and learning. More resources to faculty. More resources to students.   

We know that these resources will not appear magically. There is no money tree. What we need to do instead is re-allocate resources currently spent on academic tasks lower down the value chain. On services or operations that have become commoditized, and are available for less money and require less people time from consumer (rather than enterprise) grade sources.   

We need to figure out how to reduce the dollars that we currently spend on things other than our core missions of teaching, research and service.  

This drive to improve postsecondary productivity will be within the core work of tomorrow’s edtech professional.   

It will no longer be enough to know how to collaborate with instructors, librarians and other campus professionals to leverage technology to improve teaching and learning.  

If you want to make a real difference on your campus, and on the larger higher ed environment, you will need to understand how to improve learning while either lowering costs or bringing in new resources.  

As you look to 2018 in your edtech career I advise that you keep one eye on learning and technology, and the other eye firmly on the goal of improving our productivity in higher ed.

What is your 2018 edtech career path?

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Joshua Kim

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