What Is Educational Technology?

Educational technologists are at the cutting edge of modern education. These professionals utilize the latest in digital and technological advances to meet the learning challenges of the 21st century.

The study of educational technology, also known as instructional technology, can be applied to a wide variety of roles and contexts. For example, a background in ed tech can be useful in designing curriculum or overseeing the integration of new technology. Ed tech skills might be put to use in the creation of educational software or web-based learning systems. 

Most professionals who work in educational technology need at least a master's degree. Our rankings for the Best Master's in Educational Technology Degrees and the Best Online Master's in Educational Technology Degrees can kick-start your search for an ed tech program.

Because educational technology is such a widely applicable field, an ed tech degree can lead to a number of careers. Some individuals who study ed tech act as advisers to schools or districts in the purchase and implementation of tablets, computers, and other hardware and software. Other ed tech graduates might provide support services through a library or media center at a college or university.

Still others offer professional development and training to K-12 school personnel in the use of technology in instruction. Many remain as classroom teachers, utilizing their skills in educational technology to improve their effectiveness within their area of teaching.

It’s important to note that a degree in ed tech isn't just for K-12 teachers, or even teachers at the collegiate level. Trainers and instructors in a corporate setting can also benefit from integrating technology into their practice. An ed tech degree can provide the skills to effectively train staff in the use of new equipment or software. Instructional technology can also be a powerful tool for compliance training in company or industry standards and procedures.

Specific job titles commonly held by ed tech graduates include Distance Learning Coordinator, Instructional Coordinator, and Director of Leadership and Development. For more information about careers in ed tech—including average salaries and projected growth rates—visit our “How much can I earn with a degree in educational technology?” FAQ post.

How do you get started in an ed tech occupation? For many positions in this field, candidates will be expected to hold at least a master's degree. A common academic path starts with a bachelor’s degree in an education-related field. This bachelor’s degree might include a teaching license. A valid teaching certification allows the graduate to obtain experience as a practicing classroom teacher.

The next step is a master’s degree. Common graduate degrees in the ed tech realm include a Master of Instructional Technology or a Master of Education in Learning Design and Technology. Find out more about these degrees and the other academic programs in ed tech in this FAQ post.

When choosing a degree program and setting professional goals, it’s important to think about what aspects of ed tech you find most interesting. For example, you might want to pursue a career in a niche area of instructional technology, such as graphic design, learning management systems, web development, or curriculum design.

If you’re not sure which direction you’d like to go, think more broadly: Are you most passionate about the design of educational technology, or its implementation? Our FAQ post about ed tech specializations can give a solid overview of your choices.

With technology becoming ever more important to all levels of education, now is the perfect time to get started on your ed tech career.