Education Technology Certification
As the world around us becomes increasingly technological, so does the world of education. When public education was established in the United States, students used writing slates and slide rules. Today, they’re using computers. Chalkboards (or perhaps whiteboards) are still present in the front of many classrooms, but they’re joined by television sets and video screens for PowerPoint presentations. Libraries still have plenty of books; however, research is done more commonly through internet searches on the library computers than by using printed [and outdated] encyclopedias.
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Computers in particular play a greater role in education, connecting students and teachers to new resources and possibilities. And through the World Wide Web, there’s more information available inside the classroom than was ever contained in the Great Library of Alexandria.
Of course, not all educators are particularly internet savvy—a great misfortune, as this prevents them from tapping into such great resources. Consequently, more schools are looking for teachers with expertise in using and teaching with technology—and with the capability to lead other to do the same.
What is certification?
Education technology certification provides a common core of knowledge and skills for teachers who use technology in the classroom, as well as establishes a minimum level of performance. Obtaining a certificate or endorsement in education technology identifies a teacher as having the expertise necessary for effectively implementing technology in the curriculum. Learn about the specifics of certification in your state: Teaching Certification Requirements Map.
(Note: Industrial Technology Education Certification is a more comprehensive single-subject endorsement for teaching about technology—as opposed to teaching using technology. If you’re looking for that information, go here.
Why is Education Technology important?
Different states call their Education Technology endorsements by different names, including:
- Educational Technology Endorsement
- Computer/Technology Endorsement
- Certificate in Instructional Technology
- Master Technology Teacher Certification
Technology, and computer technology in particular, is becoming an increasing part of our modern lives. Not only are computers used more in the workplace (for word processing, spreadsheet, database, multimedia presentation, modeling, and research), but outside of the workplace they continue to take on larger roles as well. Shopping is done online; banking is done online; social networking (including dating) is done online; wi-fi hotspots are everywhere; and informational kiosks in airports, stores, and city halls are all run with advance computing software. If our experience of the world is going to be mediated by computer technology, it only makes sense to ensure that our education prepares us for it.
Using technology in the classroom to communicate information and explain concepts better prepares us for learning outside the classroom. Conversely, a classroom that neglects information technology only becomes more disconnected from, and less relevant to, life and learning outside of school. By making information technology a part of school curriculum—not simply as a subject to learn about, but as a tool that students actually use—students are prepared for using these same tools in their future jobs and other interactions outside of school.
In addition, much of the information on the internet is user-generated and interactive (as opposed to the early days of the internet, when most of the content was produced by experts sharing information with each other). While this extraordinarily enhances our access to information, it also generates social complexities, and a new set of formal and informal rules regarding research. For example: Is it legitimate to cite Wikipedia in a school research paper? These issues can only be resolved through an educational community who actively participatesthe in technology. (By the way: Professional research of Wikipedia has actually revealed it to have a lower incidence of error than most printed encyclopedias.)
Obtaining an endorsement in Education Technology
For teachers already in possession of their initial teacher licenses or credentials, obtaining an additional endorsement in education technology can be relatively simple. Many programs involve only four graduate level courses (12 units), which often can be taken online—which, after all, is consistent with the goal of using technology in education. Exact certification requirements vary by state, although all share common elements, including instruction regarding using the internet in education (not just for research, but also for teacher-student communication and student-student collaboration), evaluating and integrating software, and features of the Web environment.
- Web 2.0 for Educators
- Software and the Curriculum
- Distance Education Research and Design
- Integration of Instructional Design and Educational Technology
Classes and programs at any state university will be aligned with their state’s requirements for certification. Many states also have reciprocity agreements with other states, so that an education technology endorsement in Michigan, for example, is fully accepted in a state such as Wisconsin. If you wish to teach in a state without a reciprocity agreement, colleges will still often be able to work with other states’ departments of education in order to arrive at a workable solution.
Classes taken to obtain this endorsement can often be applied toward a master’s degree program in educational technology offered at the same college or university. They might also be accepted at other colleges and universities as well; however, not all classes will necessarily transfer between different programs in different states.
How your training prepares you to be an Education Technology leader
The classes you take to gain an endorsement in education technology will enable you to do so much more than simply use a computer in the classroom, or show students how to use a computer. Indeed, many if not most students already know the basics; a fifth-grade student today may be able to do more with his or her computer than many a college graduate could not so long ago.
In addition to being able to teach computer labs, you’ll also be able to transform much of your curriculum. Depending upon the grade level you teach, you may be able to give assignments online, establish means for students—and parents—to check on assignments and grades online, and set up forums for students to collaborate online.
Even without the internet, technology can make a dramatic impact upon your teaching. Multimedia presentations can become a normal part of your routine. Graphic illustrations and modeling can help communicate abstract concepts. Furthermore, special adaptive technology can be used to better reach students with hearing, seeing, or learning disabilities.
You’ll also be equipped to train other teachers and staff to use new hardware or software as it becomes available to your school. Instead of wondering at the complexities of the new software or systems, your command of education technology will give you a head start in learning and adapting any new device or resource into your educational program.
How Education Technology impacts your students and school
Many established teachers who have been teaching for decades may be reluctant to add new technology to their classrooms. Others may be concerned about safety issues, including viruses, malware, access to pornography, and maintaining privacy for student records and evaluations. Still others may simply be unfamiliar with computers, or only able to use them in a limited capacity, and are intimidated by the complexities of implementing computer technology in their curriculum.
Your expertise in education technology will equip you to become a leader in your school or school district, helping other teachers overcome their own obstacles and more effectively use computers in their classrooms. Also, when new hardware and software becomes available to your school, you may well be the “first adapter,” testing and working out any issues that arise before the new technology is implemented in the rest of the school.
Furthermore, your education technology endorsement is important for the future of your school, in terms of obtaining state and federal moneys for technology and improvement. What good is a grant to put laptops in the classroom if none of the teachers know how to incorporate them into the curriculum? Without teachers competent in the implementation of technology, schools will be unable to modernize, and languish in increasingly outdated educational environments. Your education technology endorsement will help ensure that your school is able to keep the latest changes in technology, and put them to the best use.