What is your career path? How did you get to your current job? If you are anything like me, or the people I work with, your path has been anything but straight. I'm often struck by the diversity in experience of the educational technology professionals that I work with. In my current team, we have an MPH working as a learning designer, a comp lit PhD / MBA leading our program, and a gaggle of PhDs and MBA's and MA's from various disciplines all working on developing a blended learning program. My colleague, a french lit PhD, is heading up our campus educational technology team, and is joined by an MA in Japanese language, literature and culture. Our wonderful and amazing CMS specialist was a chemistry professor in a past life.
What unites us all is the circuitous path we all took to our current positions, and our lack of a degree in learning design or educational technology. What about you?
I'd like to stipulate that most of what I learned about learning design, I learned from people who actually did their graduate work in this field. Pretty early in my career I was lucky enough to work with people who had trained in the learning, education and technology disciplines. I'm a big believer in the diversity of teams, and I think any post-secondary educational technology team should include people with graduate training in educational technology, course design, and learning theory.
What I'm interested in is that the field of learning technology seems to attract people with diverse backgrounds. There may only be a few routes into becoming a professor, but educational technology is wide open. I think that this diversity is a good thing. We are continually absorbing new ideas, new frameworks, and new methods. People with training in specific disciplines speak the language of academics, and can work very effectively with faculty from these academic fields. Learning technologists with teaching backgrounds understand the joys and stresses of the classroom, and can navigate the peculiar incentives and cultures of faculty life when partnering with our tenure track, visiting and adjunct colleagues.
Why does learning technology attract people who have enjoyed non-linear careers? I'd like to hear your story, but some reasons may include:
- We are generalists, where traditional academia tends to rewards specialists, so learning technology is a good fit.
- We love change, new things, and innovation - and are attracted to learning technology due to its pace of change.
- Our academic careers are situated within the context of navigating work and family life, and an educational technology career has afforded greater options and mobility than a traditional academic path.
- We are learning geeks, and educational technology is the best place to be if you want to be at the center of changes in how education is delivered.
- We are technology geeks, and believe that technology is one of the best levers we have for transforming education.
What do you think explains the diversity of career paths for people in educational technology?
How can we get a handle on the career paths of the people in our field?
Has anyone done any research into the education and employment backgrounds of learning technology professionals?
What is your career path?